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The profiles of the confirmed participating chefs at the 8th Annual World Gourmet Festival to take place in Bangkok between 9-16 September 2007 are as follows:

Patricia di Benedetto - ByeByeBlues, Palermo, Sicily, Italy: Born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1960, Patrizia learned traditional Sicilian cooking from her mother, but initially worked as an accountant, cooking only for family and friends. However in 1988 she met her husband, Antonio, at that time a restaurant sommelier, and they decided to open a restaurant together. Travelling all over Europe, including two years at the Cockpit Restaurant in Windsor, near London, they absorbed the best of many regional cooking traditions, and in 1991 returned to Palermo to open Bye Bye Blues – a great success from the very beginning, with its concentration on a lighter cuisine, using plentiful fish and vegetables and the fresh flavours of the Mediterranean. The restaurant also distinguished itself by its unusual and innovative desserts, like Patrizia’s chocolate mousse cake, which has won her many plaudits, and her semifreddo of ricotta and bitter orange marmalade. She was named Best Pastry Chef in Espresso’s Italian Restaurant Guide.

In the course of the last few years Patrizia has been broadening her experience in Los Angeles (Valentino Restaurant), Chicago (Margarita Inn) and New York (Hostaria Mazzei), as well as Italy (at the well known Italian culinary centre Cast Alimenti at Brescia), and a week in Barcelona with Jordy Butron at Espai Sucre concentrating in particular on perfecting her dessert-making skills.

Paul Wilson - The Botanical, Melbourne, Australia: Credited with serving some of Australia’ s most exciting food, Paul Wilson has been described as one of the most extraordinary culinary talents in the Commonwealth, acclaimed for inspiring dishes that take an innovative approach to cuisine traditions.

After working with the world renowned designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran as Executive Chef at Quaglino’s in London, where at the age of 27 he was awarded the prestigious Acorn award, he was lured by Sir Terence to Australia to re-launch Melbourne’s retail icon Georges and its cutting edge restaurants. He then opened Park Hyatt in Melbourne and made its signature restaurant Radii one of Australia’s finest. It was here that he was awarded Melbourne’s highest culinary honour, 3 chef’s hats consecutively, and the 2002 Chef of the Year in The Age Good Food Guide.

In 2002 he joined owner Chris Lucas to re-launch the Botanical, in Melbourne’s elite suburb of South Yarra, re-branding the former pub into a modern sleek brasserie with a unique wine and retail concept. Known for taking classic ideas and turning them into contemporary dishes, his cooking style - flavoursome, textural and adventurous - spans the rustic and the subtle; product-driven and unpretentious, with strong regional flavours.

The Botanical was named “The Age” Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year 2002, as the restaurant that has had the greatest impact on dining in Melbourne. Paul was recently appointed Chef Director of the Lucas Group to oversee future projects in addition to devising menus and overseeing the Botanical’s day to day operations. In late 2006 he travelled to New York to receive the prestigious James Beard award for his outstanding contributions to the food industry. He has also just completed his first book – the Botanical Cook Book, published by Hardie Grant.

Michael Ginor - Hudson Valley Foie Gras, New York, USA: Part of the World Gourmet Festival from its beginning, Michael joins us again for a record 8th time. Michael and his business partner Izzy Yanay established Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the major foie gras producer in the world today, and since 1998, have distributed its moulard duck products through a network of domestic distributors extending throughout the United States, and beyond to Argentina, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Venezuela. Hudson Valley Foie Gras received the 1993 Gold Merit Award from Chefs in America and the 1996 Award for Excellence from The James Beard Foundation. In 1996, Hudson Valley received the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and in 1998 the Award of Excellence from the American Tasting Institute.

In 1996, Michael received the first Olive Branch Award from the Jewish National Fund for humanitarian and professional achievements. He was honoured with the 1997 Angel Award from The James Beard Foundation and in 1998 received the American Master Taster Award from the American Tasting Institute. Both Michael and Izzy Yanay were inducted into the James Beard Foundation 2001 Who's Who of Food and Beverage.

Romain Fornell - Caelis, Barcelona, Spain: The first French chef to be awarded a Michelin star in Spain, Romain was born in Toulouse into a family with Catalan roots. He studied at the prestigious hospitality school of Toulouse, graduating first in his class and being named Best Young Chef in the Midi Pyrénées. Working at the famous Les Jardins de l’Opera he learned the basics of classic French cuisine, and in 1996 he moved to Barcelona as the Sous-Chef for La Maison du Languedoc Roussillon restaurant.

Working with Alain Ducasse at Taillevent in Paris gave him the skills to develop his own culinary style, and in 2000 Romain opened his own restaurant in the Languedoc region; the following year he won his first Michelin star, the youngest French chef ever to receive this award.

He moved back over the Spanish border to Barcelona in 2002 to take over the Diana restaurant at the former Ritz Hotel, before opening Caelis in 2004 and receiving his second Michelin star in 2005 - the only French chef with this distinction in both France and Spain. Romain’s culinary innovation has been fast, daring and spectacular, re-inventing classics and combining them with distinctive aspects of Catalan cuisine, while also creating his own specialities such as suckling pig confit and sardine cous cous.

Douglas Rodriguez - Gaucho Restaurants, London, UK: Chef Rodriguez, Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine, has changed the image of Latino food in America and opened award winning restaurants across the USA. His most recent, DeLa Costa in Chicago, recently received 3 stars from the Chicago Tribune. He is also the consulting chef for Gaucho Argentinean Restaurants in the UK.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Douglas grew up in Miami with the sights, smells and tastes of Cuban/American cuisine and began work at 14 at The Four Ambassadors Hotel, later honing his skills and techniques at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI.

Returning to Miami, Douglas opened the upscale Cuban style Yuca in 1989. By the age of 24, he had won the "Chef of the Year, Miami" award from The Chefs of America and received his first and second "Rising Star Chef of the Year" nominations by The James Beard Foundation. While Yuca served distinctly Cuban cuisine, Douglas constantly studied new flavors, ingredients and ideas from his staff, hailing from the United Nations of Latin American countries. He was executive chef and co-owner of the phenomenally successful Patria, which opened in 1994 in New York City as the laboratory for his "Nuevo Latino" cuisine; he then opened Chicama, a Peruvian Ceviche bar, to 2 stars in the New York Times, followed by Pipa, a Tapas bar that became a favorite spot for New Yorkers. 

Recently, Newsweek selected Douglas Rodriguez as one of the 100 Americans who will influence the coming millennium. People magazine featured him in an article titled "Douglas Rodriguez - Superchef Makes Latin Food Haute Haute Haute." In 1994, the Fine Beverage and Food Federation elected Douglas as Culinary Master of North America and New York. He received the prestigious James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of the Year Award 1996, and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Johnson and Wales University.

Steven Snow - Fins Restaurant, Sydney, Australia: Steven Snow started cooking in his own small establishment in Sydney, Australia in 1984, “Chez Gourmet”. Leaving in 1987 to expand his knowledge of his lifelong love, seafood, Steven first worked in South Africa, teaming local seafood with traditional African flavours and cooking methods. From Africa, Steven went on to work at Chef La Braconne in SW France, where he was quickly promoted to Sous Chef. There he spent his early mornings in the restaurant’s boat, reeling in the nightly catch of turbot, bar fish, crabs and octopus – and gaining valuable knowledge about seafood and its handling right from the source.

Returning to Australia, Steven opened La Brasserie in Rose Bay, which was rated the best quality pub restaurant in Sydney. From there he moved his family to the north coast of NSW, following his love for the amazing seafood that this area is renowned for, and opened his first Fins Restaurant. In 1998 Fins was relocated to its current location in Byron Bay. It has since been rated the Best Seafood Restaurant in Australia (2004) and has been rated 2 chef hats (highest rating 3) by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for 9 years running. Steven is a regular guest on radio and television food programs; he is also well known for his newspaper articles on produce and cooking, and is a food consultant and guest chef worldwide.

Nicole Krasinski - Rubicon, San Francisco, USA: Nicole Krasinski began making breads and pastries for her family and friends while studying photography in California. In 1996, she moved to Chicago to further her photography studies, but soon realized her future lay not in the darkroom, but in the kitchen.

Her baking skills were first nurtured at the Red Hen Bakery in Chicago under Chef Nancy Carey. In 2000, Nicole accepted the position of Pastry Chef at the legendary Tapawingo in Ellsworth, Michigan, where her long time partner, Chef Stuart Brioza, was Executive Chef. She returned to the Bay Area in 2004, taking the position of Pastry Chef at the nationally acclaimed Rubicon in San Francisco.

Less than a year after her arrival at Rubicon, Nicole’s desserts garnered 3 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, and in 2005, she was named one of the Chronicle’s Rising Star Chefs. That same year, San Francisco Magazine named her Pastry Chef of the Year. Along with Chef Brioza, she has helped re-establish Rubicon as one of the top dining destinations in San Francisco, earning a Michelin star in the inaugural San Francisco Bay Area Guide. Most recently, Chef Krasinski was named Best San Francisco Pastry Chef 2007 by Star Chefs.  Throughout her career, she has continually worked to hone her skills in creating exquisite desserts, while always endeavouring to respect the integrity of seasonal produce. Her dishes blend local flavours with unexpected elements, creating a style all her own.

Roberto Donna - Galileo, Washington DC, USA: Born in the Piedmont region of Italy, Roberto Donna arrived in Washington, DC at the age of 19 with almost a lifetime of cooking school education from his native Torino and throughout Europe. In 1984 he opened Galileo and gained a strong following in the DC Metropolitan area. The addition of his Laboratorio and Osteria has made Chef Donna's restaurant a destination for those seeking the best in Italian cuisine. Wine Spectator has called Galileo one of the "10 Best Italian Restaurants in America," and has continuously honoured Chef Donna with its Grand Award of Excellence for Galileo's comprehensive wine selection since 1997. Among the many accolades bestowed upon Roberto, one of the most notable came in 1996 when Galileo was named one of the twenty finest Italian restaurants in the world by the President of Italy.

¬Roberto is an active supporter of the American Institute of Wine & Food, The James Beard Foundation, and numerous other charitable organizations. 

Roberto has received numerous awards, including Chef of the Year 1990 and 2004 (Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Recipient); 5 Star Diamond Award (American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, 2001); 2001 Immigrant Achievement Award (The American Immigration Law Foundation); The James Beard Award for Best Chef/Mid-Atlantic Region, 1996; The Caterina de Medici Award, 1991 (Federazione Italiana Cuochi); The Chef of America Award, 1991 (Master Chefs’ Society).

Suzanne Tracht - JAR Restaurant, Los Angeles, USA: Suzanne Tracht is among the rare group of American women chefs who have achieved the ultimate dream of owning their own restaurant. At Jar, her modern chophouse in the heart of Los Angeles, Suzanne’s contemporary interpretations of standard dishes like Pot Roast and Chocolate Pudding prove that delicious food can also be unpretentious.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Suzanne apprenticed as a teenager at the four-star Arizona Biltmore Resort. She spent the late 1980s cooking in the kitchens of the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and the prestigious Hotel Bel-Air. In 1991, Suzanne became sous chef at Noa Noa in Beverly Hills, among the earliest of the Californian-Asian fusion restaurants. The following year, Suzanne accepted an offer to work at Campanile, placing her amongst Southern California’s most influential generation of chefs.

In 1996 Suzanne launched her first solo venture as Executive Chef at Jozu. Her innovative menu of Cal-Asian dishes, blending bright flavours with an array of textures and spices, won a multitude of accolades. In its debut year, Jozu ranked number two for “L.A.’s Best New Restaurants” in Los Angeles magazine’s annual restaurant issue.

With the opening of Jar in 2001, Suzanne realised her dream of owning and operating her own restaurant, re-inventing chophouse classics to reflect her influences and technique, and the public and critics quickly became fans of what was to be among the first in the steakhouse rage across the United States.

In 2002, Food and Wine magazine honoured Suzanne with a well deserved spot among the Best New Chefs of the year.

Susur Lee - Susur Lee, Toronto, Canada: As early as he can remember, Chef Susur has embraced a passion for food. His unique cooking style can be traced to his childhood experiences in Hong Kong, where he was born, and where at the age of 14 he began his apprenticeship at the legendary Peninsula Hotel. Arriving in Toronto in 1977, Susur began his celebrated culinary journey towards opening his first restaurant, Lotus, in 1987, as chef/owner. In 1997 he took a short sabbatical to re-energise, before accepting a position in Singapore as Head Chef of the celebrated Club Chinois, while also acting as consultant to the Tung Lok Group of major hotels and restaurants.

Back in Toronto, he opened his namesake restaurant Susur in 2000, followed in 2004 by his second restaurant, Lee. While Susur is a fine dining establishment, offering diners a unique, celebratory dining experience with a combination of classical French and Chinese cuisine, Lee Restaurant focuses on New Asian urban cuisine - Southeast Asian with a European background - served in an upbeat atmosphere. Located side by side, the two restaurants complement each other perfectly.

As well as his duties at his restaurants, Susur makes numerous appearances as a guest chef and lecturer the world over. His book, Susur - A Culinary Life, part biography and part collection of recipes, was published to rave reviews in 2005.

Katrina Kanetani - Pier Restaurant, Sydney, Australia: Inspired by her mother and grandmother, Katrina started cooking when very young, collecting recipes and cookery magazines and baking cookies for her sisters, and soon realized it would be her life’s work. She worked her way through a four-year apprenticeship in Byron Bay and then moved to Sydney. Working in the city’s top restaurants to gain further experience, she found herself drawn to the special skills of accuracy and precision required in the pastry and desserts section. A stint in some of London’s best restaurants – Gordon Ramsay’s L’Orange, with Head Chef Marcus Wareing, and Marco Pierre White’s Quo Vadis – honed her skills, and after working in the Caribbean island of St Lucia, then in New York with good friend and chef Nori Sugie at Asiate, she returned to Sydney to work for Janni Krystis at MG Garage.

Katrina began working at Pier in 2004 as head pastry chef, creating “ethereal” desserts that combine tastes, textures, temperatures and visual appeal. She was awarded the title of Chef of the Year for 2007 by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. With Greg Doyle and Grant King, Katrina is co-author of the Pier Cookbook, to be launched in November 2007.

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