Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black and Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) Executive Director Karen Bremer announced the 2015 Georgia Grown Executive Chefs Feb. 18 at the GRA’s Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception, held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.

The four chefs for 2015 include Chef Matthew Basford of Canoe in Atlanta, Chef Cathy Conway of Avalon Catering in Atlanta, Chef Jay Swift of 4th & Swift in Atlanta, and Chef John Syzmanski of The Kroger Co.

“As we welcome another group of talented chefs into this distinguished program, we continue to further promote and foster relationships between Georgia farms and local chefs,” Black says. “Georgia has an ample amount of quality, local products that are available throughout the cooking season and these great products can continue to be showcased to the state’s culinary community via the Georgia Grown Executive Chef program.”

“The 2015 chefs chosen for this program have exceptional experience and talent in their field and already demonstrate a strong support for Georgia grown products,” Bremer said. “These chefs will without a doubt do an excellent job representing Georgia’s restaurants and Georgia Grown and they will help continue to strengthen the relationship between Georgia’s chefs and farmers.”

These four distinguished chefs will join the current Georgia Grown Executive Chefs, including:

  • Chef Holly Chute, Executive Chef, Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program
  • Chef Michael Deihl, CEC CCA AAC, vice president of culinary innovation, A Kitchen Kalamity 
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie, owner, Gunshow in Atlanta
  • Chef Hilary White, Executive Chef, The Hil, A Restaurant at Serenbe
  • Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, Executive Chef and owner, Your Resident Gourmet in Lilburn
  • Chef Linton Hopkins, Executive Chef, Restaurant Eugene/Resurgens Hospitality Group in Atlanta
  • Chef Ahmad Nourzad, Executive Chef, Affairs to Remember Caterers in Atlanta
  • Chef Dave Snyder, owner and Executive Chef, Halyard Restaurant Group in St. Simons Island
  • Gary Coltek, senior director, Kennesaw State University Culinary and Hospitality Services in Kennesaw
  • Chef Roberto Leoci, Executive Chef, Leoci's Trattoria in Savannah
  • Chef Marc Taft, Executive Chef, Chicken and the Egg in Marietta
  • Chef Virginia Willis, Executive Chef and food writer, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises in Atlanta

The Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program seeks to promote the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown campaign statewide. Now entering its fourth year, the program offers participating chefs a mark of honor and distinction, while increasing awareness for both restaurateurs and consumers about which local Georgia products are available for the cooking season.

It also aims to highlight and involve public school culinary education and school food nutrition in terms of increased opportunities for Georgia Grown products, training and recipe development. The chefs will participate in a spring and fall school event, an organized farm tour, at least one seasonal cooking clip with the Department and at least one Georgia Grown cooking event designated by Black.

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