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Chicago, IL ~ Sunday May 19th and Monday May 20th ~ 339 N. BELL AVE., CHICAGO, IL 60612

Muhammad Abdul-Hadi

Muhammad Abdul-Hadi is the founder and owner of Down North Pizza, a mission-driven restaurant that exclusively hires formerly incarcerated individuals and serves up pies with a purpose in Philadelphia. He sits on The James Beard Foundation’s Legacy Network Cohort and was most recently named as one of the Foundation's 2024 Leadership Award winners.

Tyler Akin

Tyler Akin is the chef of Form-Function Hospitality. Akin is currently the chef-partner of Le Cavalier at the Green Room, a reimagined French brasserie at the iconic HOTEL DU PONT in Wilmington, DE opened in September 2020 and Bastia, a laid-back restaurant and leisurely all-day café drawing inspiration from the Mediterranean and coastal cuisine of neighboring islands Corsica and Sardinia at the forthcoming Hotel Anna & Bel in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood.

IRC Board Member

Catarina Bill

As director of programs and philanthropy, she oversees the Foundation’s development as a nonprofit by shaping and maintaining relationships with donors and foundations. She also is spearheading the nationwide expansion of Behind You, the organization’s program that provides no-cost mental health counseling to food and beverage workers and their children.

Kevin Boehm

CEO & CoFounder of the BOKA Group. After opening 40 restaurants over the last 30 years, James Beard Foundation Award-winning restaurateur Kevin Boehm has established himself as one of the world’s foremost hospitality visionaries. Kevin, along with his partner Rob Katz, has built a restaurant group based on great chefs, inspired design, and enlightened hospitality.

IRC Founder

Michael Carter

Chef Mike Carter aka "The Flavor Regulator" is the Executive Chef of Down North Pizza, a mission-driven restaurant in Philadelphia, where he's known for his Philly-Detroit-style pies and ongoing community efforts. This year, Mike was named one of StarChef's 2024 Philadelphia Rising Stars.

Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio is the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes New York’s Craft, Temple Court and Vallata; Long Island's Small Batch Los Angeles’ Craft Los Angeles; and Las Vegas’ Heritage Steak and Craftsteak. 

IRC Founder

casey doody

Director of Pastry for the BOKA Group. Experienced Pastry Chef with a demonstrated history of working in the food & beverages industry. Skilled in Pastry, Restaurant Management, Banquet Operations, Hospitality, and Menu Development. Strong entrepreneurship professional graduated from The French Pastry School.


Joe Flamm is the Culinary Director of Day Off Group overseeing Chicago restaurant stalwarts Rose Mary and BLVD Steakhouse. Born and raised on Chicago’s Southside, Joe is a veteran of some of the city’s most prominent and Michelin-starred kitchens, and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef season 15. 

Anna Gordon

Chef Anna Gordon introduced her one-of-a-kind cookies to New York City in 2010 by launching The Good Batch at the Brooklyn Flea. In September 2014, The Good Batch opened its flagship brick and mortar bakery in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

Sarah Greuneberg

Grueneberg is Chef/Co-owner of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago’s West Loop, which she opened in November 2015 with business partner and long-time friend Meg Sahs. The restaurant has received acclaimed reviews from various outlets, including three out of four stars by The Chicago Tribune.

Dan Jacobs

Chef Dan Jacobs is the head chef and co-owner of acclaimed Milwaukee, WI restaurants EsterEv, a globally inspired tasting menu concept, and DanDan, a modern Chinese-American concept with Midwest sensibility. Jacobs and his business partner, Chef Dan Van Rite, are 5x James Beard Best Chef Midwest Semi-Finalists, and 2024 James Beard Best Chef Midwest Nominees, who extend their work far past the kitchen: Jacobs is a board member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), was instrumental in the Restaurant Revitalization Fund’s $28.6B raise in 2021, and was one of four Americans to speak to President-Elect Biden on behalf of the independent restauranteurs.

IRC Member

Beverly Kim

Beverly Kim has risen through the ranks of Chicago’s restaurant scene to become one of the city’s most acclaimed and recognized chefs. She is one of the few women of color to be awarded the prestigious James Beard Award, and is a proud mother, and industry activist who first gained notoriety as a contestant on Top Chef in 2011. She co-owns the Michelin-starred Parachute in Chicago with her husband, Chef Johnny Clark which was recognized by the Chicago Tribune as Best New Restaurant in 2015 and a spot on Bon Appetit’s nationwide “Best New Restaurants” list.

In 2024, as part of Parachute’s ten-year anniversary, Chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark paused Parachute to debut a new high fidelity music bar and restaurant, Parachute Hi-Fi, which is set to open later this year.


Kyle Knall is the Culinary Director at Stone Bank Farms and Chef and Co-Owner of Birch, which
spotlights ingredients sourced exclusively from the region in an open-hearth setting while
prioritizing delicious, honest cooking and sustainability.
His work has contributed to the transformation of Milwaukee’s dining scene and earned
impressive accolades, including a nomination for “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard
Foundation (2022) and a nod for Birch on The New York Times “The Restaurant List” (2023).

Cheetie Kumar

Cheetie Kumar is the chef/owner of Ajja, a restaurant in Raleigh’s Five Points neighborhood that draws inspiration from the diverse foodways and cultures, vibrant spices, and cooking techniques of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and beyond. Ajja opened in June 2023 and is a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. Ajja was also named an Esquire Best New Restaurant and Eater’s Best New Carolinas Restaurant.

IRC Board Member


Owner, Head Baker, Executive Pastry Chef and Manager of Loaf Lounge.

In January 2020, she departed restaurants to return her focus to bread baking at Lost Larson, and then Aya Pastry in preparation for opening a bakery/sandwich shop with Benjamin Lustbader. The two opened Loaf Loungein the August of 2022.

Lynnette Marrero

Co-Founder of Speed Rack, MasterClass host; Partner and Chief Mixologist, Delola;Co-Author ofA Quick Drink: The Speed Rack Guide to Winning Cocktails for AnyMood

Elvis Mom

Elvis Mom is the Chef of Nine Bar, Chicago Chinatown's first cocktail bar that features Asian-inspired cocktails and bar snacks. Nine Bar is hidden behind Moon Palace Express, a family owned and operated Chinese restaurant for almost 30 years.


Partner and Executive Chef at Bronzeville Winery.


Novel is a Chicago-based creative concept that uses pizza as their canvas. Inspired by Chicago and Midwest pizzas, Filipino and Mexican heritage, and creative culture–Novel bakes original Chicago-Style pizza while pushing the norms in the industry.

David Posey

Elske, a modern American restaurant—located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood at 1350 West Randolph Street—from Chefs David and Anna Posey. With the restaurant borrowing its name from the Danish word “to love”, there is a strong focus on an evolving philosophy, centering on simplistic fare, seasonal ingredients, and energetic hospitality. They combine contemporary and classic techniques while showcasing local and seasonal ingredients.

Kareem Queeman

Kareem Queeman, known as Mr. Bake, fell in love with all things sweet and yummy at the tender age of 8.

Now, he is the Founder and Owner of Mr. Bake Sweets and a James Beard Award semi-finalist.

Chandra Ram

Chandra is a cookbook author and food writer, and the senior digital food editor of Food & Wine. I got here after earning degrees in journalism (Loyola University Chicago) and culinary arts (The Culinary Institute of America), and sipping and studying my way to pass the certificate level of the Court of Master Sommelier exam.

Caroline schiff

Caroline Schiff is an award-winning pastry chef and cookbook author in Brooklyn, NY with sixteen years of experience in restaurants, bakeries, and cafés. She is widely known by her instagram moniker, @pastryschiff and was most recently the Executive Pastry Chef at Brooklyn’s acclaimed Gage & Tollner (where she created her infamous baked alaska). Caroline is also a Food and & Wine Best New Chef 2022, James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef Finalist 2022 and author of The Sweet of Sourdough. Next up, she plans to open her first brick and mortar concept (a diner) in New York in 2025.

Ashok Selvam

Ashok Selvam is the editor at Eater Chicago, a position he’s held since 2020. He’s covered the city’s food and beverage world since 2014. He’s a native Chicagoan and raised on the North Side. He studied journalism at Syracuse University and returned home to work at the Daily Herald working the cops beat and local politics. He also covered healthcare for Crain’s Communications’ Modern Healthcare. He’s a three-time Peter Lisagor Award winner and regularly appears on outlets including WBEZ radio and Fox Chicago.

Chris Stang

Head of Chase Dining / Co-Founder of Infatuation. Since its inception in 2009, Chris Stang has been the architect of The Infatuation’s editorial voice, creative vision, and marketing strategy. Today his role still encompasses all of those things, but also includes pushing the company forward into new arenas, including the creation of The Infatuation’s food festival, EEEEEATSCON, and the company’s acquisition of Zagat from Google.

Valeria Taylor

Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, the head of Loba Pastry + Coffee has been fostering her love for food from an early age while experiencing her family’s strong cooking tradition through the women in her family. She has been cooking professionally since she moved to Chicago in 2010, learning the tricks of the trade while working at some of the best restaurants the city had to offer, like the now closed Blackbird. Unsatisfied with the mundane, Valeria is always learning new techniques, working with new ingredients, and inspiring us all with her creative and inclusive edge. She’s no ordinary chef pâtissier, she’s hungry like the wolf!

Erick Williams

Chef and Owner of Chicago’s Virtue Restaurant & Bar, Mustard Seed Kitchen, Daisy’s Po-Boy & Tavern, and Top This Mac & Cheese.

Ellen Yin

Ellen Yin is the founder and co-owner of High Street Hospitality Group, which operates some of the country’s most celebrated dining establishments, including Fork, High Street Restaurant & Bakery, + bar, High Street Hoagies and The Wonton Project in Philadelphia. In 2023, she was named “Outstanding Restaurateur” by the James Beard Foundation. Proudly dedicated to the flourishing of Philadelphia, Ellen is a co-chair of Sisterly Love Collective and a board member of the Philadelphia Award, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, and the Arden Theater Company. She is on the Community Advisory Board of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Kimmel Cancer Center. Nationally, she sits on the Restaurant Advisory Board of OpenTable. She earned her undergraduate degree and MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

IRC Member

Danielle M Baran PhD

Danielle Baran is the Director of Psychological Services Center at Northern Illinois University.