2024 Teams & Judges

St. Pete

TEAM CAPTAIN

Tampa Bay Food Fight Presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Michael Rocco La Porte

Tampa

TEAM CAPTAIN

Taro Larrea

Taro Larrea

Tablas

Team Captain

Tampa Bay Food Fight Presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Sergio Chanquin

Tampa Bay Food Fight Presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Daniel Devino

Tampa Bay Food Fight Presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Joi Falcone

Tampa Bay Food Fight Presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Paul Morrison III

Tampa Bay Food Fight Presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Olivia Giesler

Judges

Bryan Frick

Before moving to Florida at the age of 26, Bryan Frick had already been in the Culinary Industry.

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Being partially raised in the kitchen watching his father, a cook in the armed services provide great tales of how “we cooked in the fields”, and watching him like a orchestra leader conduct a family run restaurant zipping around pulling food from the oven and making homemade pies at the same time. ​

Never wanting to work that hard and that many hours, Brian decided to be a Chef and run the kitchen and just manage (yeah right). After graduating from Columbus State College in 1971 in hospitality and a first-year program for apprenticeship in Ohio, he jumped right into the fire and bought a little family restaurant.  ​

As being a former apprentice, Brian hired an apprentice and keep the passion alive. After 5 years owning two restaurants and a catering company, his wife and family pulled the plug and moved to Florida.​
Another dream came true, having visited Disney World a couple of times with the family, one of his goals was to be chef at Disney and having been there seasonal for over 30 plus years, it was a great accomplishment. Then joining the Nestle Corporation in 1997 as a Corporate Executive Chef.  Having been with Nestle for 20 plus years fulltime has been an experience that only happen once in a lifetime. Meeting with such great talented chefs and becoming good colleagues with chefs around the world.​

Other attributes include:​
Involvement with the ACF for 40 plus years.​
Chapter leadership for two ACF Chapters, Columbus Ohio and Orlando Florida. ​
Elected Southeast Regional Vice President 2022-2023​
Honor of the Golden Toque- Commander Director Reunions​
Chanie – Conseller Culinairi – Orlando Bialliage  ​


Presidential awards from National and Chapter for outstanding achievements and contributions. Including Chef of the year in Central Florida. ​
Provided leadership for numerous community’s events for the ACF and Nestle, such as Give kids the World Holiday project 25 years, Chef and Child Foundation, National Kids Nutrition Day school demonstration for healthier diets, and Michelle Obama Chefs moved to school national program. ​
Local food drives for Orlando food banks. ​

Other events include Taste of the Nation 15 years, Cattle Barons Ball for 10 years. ​

During CoVid 19 organized a chapter event with a Florida program called Truck to Trunk that helped deliver over 9,120 boxes of produce to families in need and to help the farmers of Florida to deliver 91,200 pounds of produce. ​

Chef Frick has always had a mind set of lead, follow or get out of the way attitude that allows him give back to those in need, helps others to encourage the team spirit to recognize others to grow and be a part of the whole. ​
In addition to being a full-time chef, husband to a truly loving and devoted wife, chef loves working in the yard and doing projects to make things better. But he knows the basic rule, be true, be honest and work hard, lift others up and stride to always exceed expectations.​

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Joseph Leonardi

Joseph M. Leonardi, CMC, AAC, is currently the Assistant General Manager at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida having joined in 2023.

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In this role, he is responsible for the general operation of staff functions relating to food & beverage throughout the club. Additionally, he oversees the development of policies, procedures, comprehensive training and evaluation of food and beverage employees, focusing on proper techniques and creating a “team work” atmosphere.  Joseph, functions as a communication link between departments (i.e. Golf Shop, Turfgrass, Spa Tennis, Fitness, Engineering, Communications, Accounting, Human Resources, etc.). He is responsible for ensuring that all member/guest expectations are met or exceeded.

Previously, Joseph was the Director of Culinary Operations at The Country Club in Chestnut Hill, MA having joined in 2016. In this role, he oversaw a full-time culinary team of 30 chefs and cooks and was responsible for all food and beverage on property. Prior to The Country Club, he was the Executive Chef at the Somerset Club in Boston, MA and served as the Department Chair of Culinary Arts and Assistant Professor at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. A member of the American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF), Joseph holds a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and a master’s degree in Applied Teaching from Johnson & Wales University.

An avid competitor, Leonardi has amassed numerous awards at the regional, national, and international level.  Chef Leonardi was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs in 2020 after having earned in 2017, the prestigious title of Certified Master Chef (CMC), the ACF’s highest and most demanding level of achievement in the culinary industry elevating him to 1 of just 71 CMCs in the United States and the only CMC in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts during his time of tenure.  At the ACF’s 2009 National Convention, Joseph was named the U.S.A.’s Chef of the Year™.

Chef Leonardi is also a past manager and team member of the ACF Culinary Team USA, the official team representing the United States in all international competitions and whose mission is to be the standard of excellence for the culinary industry.  Leonardi has won over 20 gold medals and numerous silver medals during the past 15 years and in 2016, under his direction, elevated the ACF Culinary Team USA to world champion status in the Culinary Arts Display.

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Rene Marquis

Chef Rene J. Marquis was born in Lewiston, Maine.  He graduated with an AS from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hyde Park, NY in March 1992.

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Upon graduation, Chef Marquis worked as a Garde Manger and a Chef Tournant at the Broadmoor Hotel where he worked until joining the Army in 1993.  As of January 2014, he is a retired combat veteran of 21 years.  Throughout his military career, he was a team member and the team captain of, (USACAT) Unites States Army Culinary Arts Team who attended the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany for 2000, 200, 2008. He also competed in Culinary World Cups in 2002 and 2006.  In 2004 the team brought home 17 gold and 16 silver medals.  He is also an approved American Culinary Federation Judge since 2005 and also a Certification Evaluator. In 2012 Chef Marquis helped Café Mom Studios and mothers by starring on the kitchen segments, “Dinner Boot Camp.” To help prepare healthy, quick dinners for families on the go. In 2013, he appeared on Alton Brown’s latest show on the Food Network Channel, “Cutthroat Kitchen.”  Here he dodged much sabotage by other contestants to finish on top as the winner of Season 1, Episode 7.  Chef Marquis became an International Culinary Judge through WorldChefs in 2014. Chef Marquis currently resides in the Tampa Bay Area and is a Corporate Chef for Land O Lakes which is an amazing company and when he is not cooking, he’s playing or watching hockey. He is also currently the Chairmen of the Board for the ACF Tampa Bay Chapter and was Business Manager for Culinary Team USA 2020 that competed in Luxembourg in November 2018 and then at the Olympics in Stuttgart Germany in February of 2020. In November of 2022, Chef Marquis will be giving back to his Culinary Profession by judging at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg.

He also serves these other organizations in these capacities:

  • Military Regional Director of the American Academy of Chefs
  • WORLDCHEFS Chairman – Military Committee
  • WORLDCHEFS Culinary Competition Committee – Military

Most recently Chef Marquis has been elected to be the next American Culinary Federation National President and was sworn in on July 19th in New Orleans. He is the 1st ACF National President that has served and retired from the United States Armed Forces.

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Vanessa Marquis

Chef Vanessa Marquis, CEC, AAC, is the Corporate Executive Chef/Director of Culinary Innovation at FSC Franchise Co.(The Brass Tap, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, and Newk’s Eatery). 

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After starting her career at a Private Country Club in Central California, her growth and experience grew in the galleys to include working on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, teaching, private classes, consulting, catering for up to 2500 guests, and collaborating with Chef Cliff Barsi in 2013 on Inside the Box Culinary Arts Program for aged-out foster children that is still flourishing at Metropolitan Ministries.

Chef has served the last 9 years on the ACF Tampa Bay Chapter Board and currently holds the position as President.  Chef Vanessa has served the last 4 years on Worldchefs International Chefs Day Committee as the Chairman.  Another title received this year is the Committee Chair for the Chef & Child Initiative for the American Culinary Federation.  The committee’s goal is to reach as many children as possible globally, with the help of Chefs, in “Preparing Children for a Healthy Life.”  Her efforts with her husband and fellow Chef, Rene Marquis, are ongoing to the community.  The dynamic duo couple received the Humanitarian Medal from World Chefs Without Borders for organizing the first-ever Worldchefs event in the U.S., Americas in Aid-2019.  Chef Vanessa says, “Giving & helping is food for my soul.”

In early 2018, she was named to the ACF Culinary Team USA 2020-National Team and competed at the Culinary World Cup 2018 in Luxembourg, receiving a Silver medal in the Individual Category, and a Silver with the team to IKA Culinary Olympics 2020 in Stuttgart, Germany.

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Ray McCue

Chef Ray McCue is originally from New York, NY and lives in Rhode Island, working as an Associate Professor at Johnson & Wales University.

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Chef McCue has understood the importance of food at an early age, watching his grandmother cook to working in a variety of restaurants in his teenage years.  McCue has degrees in Culinary Arts, Foodservice Management, and a Master’s Degree in Education. Before beginning at JWU, McCue worked at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, and at 2 West Restaurant.

Chef McCue has a long list of accolades and has received numerous gold medals and “Best of Shows” in national and international competitions. He has also appeared on NBC The Today Show displaying elegant and summertime cuisine with Al Roker.  McCue is also a Worldchefs Certified Master Chef (W.C.M.C.) and a Certified Hospitality Educator (C.H.E.).  He also earned the American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Chef Educator of the Year Award in 2015, the Cutting-Edge Award and the ACF Presidential Medallion twice. His is a Certified Executive Chef through ACF. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Chefs.

Currently, Chef McCue is the Northeast Region Vice President for the American Culinary Federation and continuing his mission to teach the next generation of chefs to fulfill their dreams.

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Past Teams

2023

Judges

Albert Tash, Executive Chef, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Michael Moench, Certified Executive Chef, ACF
Vanessa Marquis, Research & Development Chef, FSC Franchise Co.
Steve Phelps, Executive Chef, Indigenous Restaurant

Team St. Pete (winner)

Susan Burdian, Social Roost (Captain)
Jason Gordon, Cap’s Steamer Bar and Grille
Christopher Falzon, Crown and Bull
Mike Malone, Levy Restaurants & Tropicana Field
Matthew Smith, The Hangar
Lee Aquino, Birchwood & Teak
Mike Roberts, Wild Child

Team Tampa

Anne Kearny, Oak & Ola (Captain)
Ricardo Nava, Cru Cellars
Drew Dimitrovski, Oak & Ola
David Puatu, Tampa Bay Lightning
Allie Beasman, edison food+drink lab
Adam Moya, Counter Culture
Phil Cleary, On Swann

2021

Judges

Norman Van Aken
Adrienne Gang, Bravo TV’s Below Deck
Joe Isidori, JOTORO Kitchen + Tequila Bar
Lee Ann Whippen, KCBS Certified Judge, celebrity pitmaster, restaurateur

Team St. Pete

Joshua Breen, Annata Wine Bar (Captian)
Jason Borajkiewicz, The Restorative
Susan Burdain, Social Roast
Burton Pratt, Sauvignon Wine Locker & American Trattoria
Kevin Riley, Levy Restaurants & Tampa Bay Rays
James Renew, The Little Lamb Gastropub
Mike Crippin, The Studio Public House

Team Tampa (winner)

Taro Larrea, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood (Captian)
Sean Brasel, Meat Market
Joe Dodd, King of the Coop
Casey Ryan, Legends & Tampa Bay Buccanneers
Amy Pattison, Mise en Place
Waylon Nelson, Delaware North & Tampa Bay Lightning
Matthew Zappoli, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

2020

Judges

Thaddeus Bullard a.k.a. WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil
Chad Johnson, Haven
Angela and Andrew Duncan, The Duncan Duo
Kim Miller-Boivin, Culinary Director of Welbilt
Helen Freund, Tampa Bay Times, Food and Dining Food Critic

 

Team St. Pete (winner)

Jason Ruhe, Brick & Mortar (Captain)
Ted Dorsey, The Mill, Chair
Tyson Grant, Parkshore Grill
Ben Hooper, The Dewey
Art Kucherenko, Sola Bistro & Wine Bar
Colin Reinsmith, Sea Worthy Fish + Bar
Rob Reinsmith, Wild Child

 

Team Tampa

Michael Buttacavoli, Cena (Captain)
James Maita, Sacred Pepper
Frank Anderson, Seminole Hard Rock
Jason Saldutti, Forbici
Taro Larrea, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
Adam Polisei, Ocean Prime

2019

Judges

Norman Van Aken, Chef and author
James Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig
Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig
Helen Freund, Tampa Bay Times, Food Critic

Hosts

Thaddeus Bullard, a.k.a. WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil
Aaron Jacobson, Newsradio WFLA
Tom “Tkras” Krasniqie, 95.3 WDAE
Jeff Philbin, Master Chef Finalist

Team St. Pete (winner)

Ted Dorsey, The Mill, Chair
Rachel Bennett, The Library, Captain
Jonathan Atanacio, K Club Bistro
Joshua Breen, Alto Mare
Jordan Buendia, Rococo Steak
Hector Garcia, Paul’s Landing
Jason Ruhe, Brick & Mortar
Viet Vo, Sekushi

Team Tampa

Candy DeBartolo, Sacred Pepper, Chair
James Maita, Sacred Pepper, Captain
Paul Boucher, Mise en Place
Hab Hamde, Bern’s
Anne Kearney, Oak & Ola
Taro Larrea, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
Adam Polisei, Ocean Prime
Adrihel H. Rosario, Oystercatchers

2018

Judges

Cory Bahr
Cindy Hutson
Victoria Jordan Rodriquez
Serena Poon
Laura Reiley

Team St. Pete (winner)

Stephen Schrutt, Chair
Ted Dorsey, The Mill, Captain
Lee Aquino, The Birchwood
Adam Beckett, Locale Market
Rachell Bennett, The Library
David Benstock, Il Ritorno
Chris Fernandez, Red Mesa
Tyson Grant, Parkshore Grill
Lee Jasper, Dr. BBQ

Team Tampa

Jeff Gigante, Chair
Chad Johnson, Haven, Captain
Ferrell Alvarez, Rooster & the Till
Michael Buttacavoli, Cena
Nathan Hardin, Steelbach
Felicia LaCalle, Hemingways
James Maita, Sacred Pepper
Courtney Orwig, Haven
Jason Saldutti, Forbici

2017

Judges

Cory Bahr
Marty Blitz
Mike Calta
Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe
Art Smith

Team St. Pete

Matthew Brennan, Paul’s Landing
Luke Decker, The Birchwood
Ted Dorsey, The Mill
Tyson Grant, Parkshore Grill
Rob Reinsmith, Noble Crust
Jason Ruhe, Brick & Mortar
Jeffrey Jew, Stillwaters Tavern

Team Tampa (winner)

Richard Anderson, Oxford Exchange
Michael Buttacavoli, Cena
Chad Johnson, Haven
Antoine Ludcene, Cask
Robert Masson, 717 South
Ryan Mitchell, Fresh Kitchen