Walk down The Celebrity Chef Walk of Fame!

Walk down The Celebrity Chef Walk of Fame! 

Welcome to the Savannah Food & Wine Festival Celebrity Chef Walk of Fame! Here you will see all of the stars featured this year at the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner at the Perry Lane Hotel.

Featuring some old and new stars, the celebrities this year are better than ever – let’s meet them now!


Kyle Jacovino

  • Executive Chef, 1540 Room – Savannah, GA
  • Kyle Jacovino is one of Savannah’s very own talents to be featured at the dinner this year. Having steeped himself in Italian food culture, Kyle sees a kinship between the timelessness of traditions in the South and Italy. In The Florence, he sees an opportunity to celebrate his ideal food, which emphasizes simplicity, beautiful ingredients and a symbiotic relationship between the restaurant and the people who raise the food he serves.

Michael Sullivan

  • Butcher/Charcutier, American Cured – Birmingham, AL
  • Michael Sullivan is from our neighbor state, Birmingham, AL and found passion in this industry through working solely with his hands to combine the most unique spices and flavors with numerous kinds of meats creating an innovative dish. His work as a professional butcher instilled a commitment to state of the art processing, allowing Sullivan to bring high-quality beef to the table.

Brandon Whitestone

  • Chef/ Partner, Cotton & Rye/Sugo Rossa – Savannah, GA
  • Brandon Whitestone is another local talent to be featured at the festival this year. He and his wife Kimberly made their way to Savannah in 2013 to begin creating Cotton & Rye and have been here ever since. At Chef Allen’s in Miami, Whitestone became deeply involved in a Farm to Table style of cooking and after several years he took over the kitchen and was nominated for Best Up & Coming Chef Miami.

Andrew Wilson

  • Host and Executive Chef, Perry Lane Hotel – Savannah, GA
  • We interviewed Chef Wilson a while back and when asked what his favorite part of the dinner was, he said, “Getting to know new chefs along with reuniting with ones I already know – the camaraderie of it all is fantastic.” Along with the opening of The Perry Lane Hotel comes Wilson’s Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market that lives inside of it where Wilson continue to delve into the farm-to-fork philosophy and utilizes the South’s rich agricultural offerings.

Vishwesh Bhatt

  • Corporate Chef, Grocery Restaurant Group – Oxford, MS
  • Vishwesh Bhatt joined the City Grocery Restaurant Group in 1997. With his years of culinary experience and exposure to worldwide cultures, he has developed a menu that intertwines both Southern and subcontinental food-ways. His work earned him a People’s Best New Chef nomination from Food & Wine in 2011. Snackbar has been recognized by local and national media as one of the finest restaurants in the South. The highlight of Vishwesh’s eight years as Chef at Snackbar has been the recognition by the James Beard Foundation, as a finalist for Best Chef South in  2014-2018.

Michael Kramer

  • Executive Chef, Jianna and Table 301 Restaurant Group – Greenville, SC
  • The California native has worked in kitchens from Coast to Coast. Michael Kramer started his career at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Los Angeles and then to the famed Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. In April 2013, Chef Kramer moved to Greenville, SC to take a position with Table 301 Restaurant Group Executive Chef of Culinary Operations for the restaurant group. He soon added Executive Chef at The Lazy Goat to his daily responsibilities, a position he held until July 2015 when he began working on the Jianna concept which opened in March 2017. Chef Kramer is no stranger to the festival scene. Over the last few years, he has been invited to participate in Taste of Derby, Gourmet & Grapes, Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic, Charleston Wine + Food, Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend, Memphis Food & Wine and Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Kramer was also a contestant on Season 12 of Beat Bobby Flay on The Food Network.

Zach Engel

  • Culinary Director, Pomegranate Hospitality – New Orleans, LA
  • Zach Engel spent a summer in Tel Aviv, Israel, staging alongside Chef Meir Adoni at Catit. Engel, hungry to continue to explore the foods of modern-day Israel and the  Middle East, joined Shaya’s opening team for his new namesake concept in New Orleans. At Shaya, Engel rose from sous chef to chef de cuisine in one short year. With a heartfelt obligation to honor the falafel and hummus he encountered in Israel (in a city known for gumbo and etouffée), Engel helped reel in Shaya’s James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant” in 2016. In 2017, Engel won the James Beard Award for “Rising Star Chef of the Year,” was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list, and promoted to Executive Chef. In 2017, he joined the team at Pomegranate Hospitality as Culinary Director.

James Lewis

  • Chef and Owner, Bettola – Birmingham, AL.
  • Lewis is the grandson of restaurateur Phillip George, who operated the Melba Cafe and Jefferson Seafood in downtown Birmingham. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from UAB and trained at the Plumed Horse in Saratoga, California and at in Italy at La Locanda di Bu in Nusco and the Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano. He has also worked at Winston’s and Cafe Julien before opening Bettola in 2006. In 2011 Lewis was honored as one of the “Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine. In 2013 Lewis fulfilled a dream of opening an Italian-style macelleria (butcher shop), next door to Bettola. He named it Vittoria in honor of his grandmother, Victoria George. In 2015 Vittoria was merged into Bettola.

Jean-Yves Vendeville

  • Department Head, Culinary Institute of Savannah Technical College – Savannah, GA
  • Jean-Yves Vendeville has been with Savannah Tech since December 2008 and has more than doubled enrollment in the program. Recently, Vendeville received an academic palm from France. This high honor is similar to being knighted. He is now known as Chevalier De L’ Ordre Des Palmes Academiques. The Culinary Institute of Savannah ACF-accredited culinary arts program has been described as the “best in the U.S.A” by its ACF accreditation review board. According to his committee chair, the Culinary Institute of Savannah, offering ACF-accredited diploma and degree programs in culinary arts, has gone “well over and above the standards and expectations for a technical college teaching facility.”

Tina Haldeman

  • Pastry Chef, The Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market – Savannah, GA
  • Focusing on the sweeter things in life, Pastry Chef Tina Haldeman has worked coast to coast from San Antonio Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, TX & Spa to Sea Island Resorts in Sea Island, Haldeman is currently the owner and pastry consultant of La Dolce, Executive Chef and F&B Director of ARI Korean Steakhouse & The Cake Shop, and Executive Pastry Chef of the host hotel of the dinner, The Perry Lane Hotel.


You can meet all these stars in person by joining us at the hottest red carpet event of the year – the James Beard Foundation, Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner! Get your tickets here today and join the stars as they take you on a truly exquisite dining adventure.


The Savannah Food & Wine Festival takes place throughout Savannah, November 5 – 11, 2018 with celebrity chefs and winemakers, connoisseur dinners, one-of-a-kind culinary, spirits and wine experiences. The most up to date festival information is available on the website at www.savannahfoodandwinefestival.com; Twitter: https://twitter.com/SAVFoodWineFest; Instagram: www.instagram.com/SAVFoodWineFest; Facebook: www.facebook.com/SavannahFoodandWineFestival.

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