Nyesha Arrington has been in love with the kitchen since she was just a little girl, cooking from the age of five alongside her Korean grandmother. Born in Southern California to a multicultural family, she was introduced early on to diverse foods such as bulgogi, octopus, and homemade kimchi. These first stages of culinary experiences definitively shaped her palate and her ideas. By integrating flavors and techniques from around the world, Arrington has been able to create a style that is both personal and unparalleled.
In 2021, after graduation from the prestigious Culinary School at the Art Institute of California in Los Angeles, Arrington built an impressive resume working with Josiah Citrin at the acclaimed 2 Michelin Star Mélisse in Santa Monica as well as legendary French chef Joël Robuchon at his Michelin Star restaurants in Las Vegas, L'Atelier and The Mansion. She then went on to helm Leona and Native in Los Angeles where she was celebrated for using farm-fresh, locally, and responsibly sourced ingredients. In 2012 she was named to Zagat’s 30 Under 30 and in 2015 was recognized as LA’s Chef of the Year by Eater.
Arrington hit the national stage as a fan favorite on Top Chef in season 9 and is currently the host of Plateworthy on Eater and will join Gordon Ramsay as a judge/mentor on FOX’s new culinary competition show Next Level Chef in the fall. She is also the co-host of the Happy Mouth podcast alongside restauranteur Philip Camino.
Arrington draws inspiration from art as well as her African American and Korean background and is passionate about food and culture, nutrition and vegetables, storytelling, travel and fitness.
Most people know Rick Bayless from winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. His highly rated public television series, Mexico: One Plate at a Time, is broadcast coast to coast and his nine cookbooks have earned multiple high-profile accolades.
Located in Chicago, Bayless’ Frontera Grill and Topolobampo have each received the “Outstanding Restaurant of the Year” designation from the James Beard Foundation — an unprecedented feat for side-by-side restaurants. His wildly popular fast-casual Xoco debuted in 2009 and Tortas Frontera at Chicago’s O’Hare airport has changed the face of airport dining. In 2016, he opened Frontera Cocina in Disney Springs. In 2018, Bayless expanded his Clark Street restaurants by opening Bar Sótano, a Oaxacan-inspired mezcal bar with modern Mexican bar food. Tortazo, Bayless’ new fast-casual concept, debuted in 2020 in Chicago's iconic Willis Tower, with plans to open an outpost in New York City in fall 2021.
In 2012 and again in 2014, Bayless joined forces with Lookingglass Theatre Company to create Cascabel, the story of food’s capacity to change lives. Cascabel’s audience shared a meal with the cast of actors, musicians, singers, and circus performers as the tale of unrequited love resolved into magical beauty.
Always a philanthropist, Bayless and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms. To date, the foundation has awarded nearly 200 grants totaling nearly $3 million. He also launched the Frontera Scholarship, a culinary school scholarship for Mexican-American students in Chicago. In 2019Bayless founded Impact Culinary Training, a restaurant job readiness program on the city’s west side. And in 2017 he established the Bayless Family Foundation to support the city’s vibrant theater scene with grants to Chicago theater companies totaling $1.5 million to date.
The Government of Mexico has bestowed on Bayless the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle—the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners whose work has benefitted Mexico and its people.
Melissa King is an accomplished chef, advocate, and entrepreneur, a judge on Top Chef: Season 18, was the Top Chef: All-Stars Season 17 winner and has won the most challenges in the show’s history. Known for her blend of California cuisine with Asian flavors, King was recognized as “one of the best female chefs in San Francisco” and a“40 under 40:Rising Star”.
With over 15 years in the industry, she’s helmed Michelin-starred kitchens under names such as Dominique Crenn and Ron Siegel. King leads virtual cooking classes, creates small-batch sauces, and designs unique ice cream flavors with Humphry Slocombe.
King is a proud Chinese-American using her platform to advocate. Through her Top Chef Fan-Favorite award and proceeds from classes, King raised over $20K benefiting The Trevor Project, The Okra Project, Asian Youth Center, and more. She’s featured in GAP’s 2021 spring campaign celebrating diversity. Visit chefmelissaking.com.
Jamika Pessoa is a classically trained chef and TV host.
Since launching her television career as a contestant on The Food Network’s Next Food Network Star in 2009, she has appeared on a number of nationally-acclaimed television shows including Guy’s Grocery Games, Best Thing I Ever Ate, as well as Food Network’s latest cooking competition show Raid the Fridge. She makes regular appearances on Good Morning America, the Wendy Williams Show, and the Tamron Hall Show. Currently, you can see her as a weekly contributor and cohost on Dr. Oz’s new series The Dish on Oz. From contestant to guest judge, contributor, and host, she is seriously stirring up the food industry!
A self-described Southern belle with Caribbean roots, Chef Jamika’s cooking style is “Caribbean Heat meets Southern Sweet,” and her mouthwatering, delicious recipes offer bold flavors and unexpected twists for meals for any occasion.
As a classically trained chef, Pessoa studied abroad in Italy and Austria. In 2006 she paired her business acumen with her love of cooking and entertaining and launched her catering business, Life of the Party Catering, becoming the celebrity chef for a high-profile roster of clients including rappers, athletes, and entertainers nationwide.
She is a dynamic businesswoman, wife, mother of two girls, and an inspiration as she shakes up perceptions of what a female chef can do. Whether it’s in the kitchen, in front of the camera, or behind the scenes, you will instantly be captivated by her bold flavors, wit, style, and celebration of life! For more information on the fife of the party herself, please visit ChefJamika.com.
Chef Fabio Viviani has harbored a passion for food since his childhood growing up in Florence, Italy. Between training in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at the top hospitality schools and working with culinary luminaries such as Alessandro Panzani and Saverio Carmagini, Viviani also owned and operated several concepts by the time he was 27 including two nightclubs and five restaurants in Florence. Although a well-respected businessman in Italy, he was ready for a change, and in 2005 Vivianio moved to California where he opened his first U.S.-based restaurant Café Firenze in Moorpark, California.
Teaming up with one of Chicago’s restaurant-consulting groups Dine|Amic, Viviani opened Siena Tavern in Chicago in 2013, and the following year he opened Mercato by Fabio Viviani, a quick-service Italian concept with branches in Chicago and San Diego. In 2015 he continued to make a name for himself in Chicago by opening Bar Siena and Prime & Provisions. In 2016 he expanded to the LAX Delta terminal with the opening of Osteria by Fabio Viviani, which won USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Airport Sit-Down Dining in 2018. Simultaneously, he opened additional Mercato by Fabio locations in Tempe, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Benton Harbor. In 2017 Viviani opened the Press Room in Detroit right after his February opening of Portico by Fabio Viviani in New York’s del Lago Resort & Casino.
Best known for his television debut on Bravo’s hit series Top Chef—earning the fan favorite title—his on-screen appearances have propelled him to become one of the top culinary names in the country.
He is a recurring guest on national television shows such as Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew, and countless Food Network Shows such as Cutthroat Kitchen: All-Star Tournament, which he won. In February 2017, he released Fabio’s Kitchen, a 52-episode cooking show hosted on YouTube followed by a second season that was launched in May 2018.
Offscreen, Fabio is a regular headliner at global food events. He also owns a Maine-based seafood delivery service called Lobster by Fabio and a winery in Sonoma that produces the five wine varietals in the Fabio Viviani Wine Collection.
In addition to having his own lines of cookware and culinary gadgets, he has also been a proud spokesman for international brands and has authored four successful cookbooks: Café Firenze Cookbook, The New York Times Best-Seller Fabio’s Italian Kitchen, Fabio’s American Home Kitchen, and most recently Fabio’s 30-Minute Italian.
His varied accomplishments have impressed many, resulting in his induction into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame as 2017 Chef of the Year on March 8, 2017.
Following Fabio’s initiation, the mayor of Chicago also declared March 8, 2017, to be Chef Fabio Viviani Day in Chicago, encouraging Chicagoans to recognize his achievements and contributions not only to his home city, but also to the nation’s culinary scene.
Jack Bishop is the chief creative officer of America’s Test Kitchen. He was part of the original team that started America’s Test Kitchen, beginning with the launch of Cook’s Illustrated in 1993. Jack directed the launch of Cook’s Country magazine in 2005 and the building of the company’s book publishing division. He is the tasting lab expert on America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country. Jack leads the creative teams working on the company’s television shows, podcasts, videos, magazines, books, and online cooking school. Jack is the author of several cookbooks, including Vegetables Every Day (2001) and The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook (1997). Jack’s first children’s book, Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie, was published in the fall of 2020.
Julia Collin Davison is an executive editorial director for America’s Test Kitchen. She is also cohost of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country and is an original cast member of both shows, which are two of the highest-rated instructional cooking shows on television. Julia began working as a test cook for Cook’s Illustrated in 1999 and led recipe development for America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks for more than a decade. Julia has been a guest on Good Morning America, Live with Kelly & Ryan, The Dr. Oz Show, Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, and The Tamron Hall Show. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1996. She received an Augie Award from the Culinary Institute of America and was inducted into the prestigious Disciples d'Escoffier culinary society in 2018.
Bridget Lancaster is an executive editorial director for America’s Test Kitchen. She’s known to millions of fans as a cohost of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country, which both air on public television. Bridget is also host and producer of Proof, a new podcast from America’s Test Kitchen. She began working as a test cook for Cook’s Illustrated in 1998. She was also part of the launch team for Cook’s Country magazine and led the magazine’s recipe development. Bridget is the lead instructor for America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School and has created hundreds of instructional videos. In her earlier career she cooked in restaurant kitchens in the South and the Northeast, concentrating on pastry. She was inducted into the prestigious Disciples d'Escoffier culinary society in 2018.