Our outreach to culinary professionals extends to four working chefs in the NYC vicinity, who perform throughout the day on the Celebrity Chef Stage in “Central Park.”
In addition, scholarship winners from two culinary schools compete for best day-part food item, utilizing produce items foraged from trade show booths during the show.
2018 Chef Demonstrations
Jacob Javits Center Hall 1C “Central Park” Center Stage
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Chef Tony Merola®
Easily one of the more recognizable figures in the produce industry, Chef Tony Merola is back doing what he loves doing: Cooking. Seminars. Educating the foodservice and retail segments of the produce industry on ways to best handle and use fruits and vegetables.
Chef Merola founded Merola Marketing Group Inc. in 1998 after leaving Brooks Tropicals. With expertise in avocados, mangos, papayas and a wide variety of lettuces, he spent the next four years on the seminar circuit before joining Litehouse in 2002. While his day-to-day commitment was in promoting the Must-A-Kraut® Line, with his name Chef Tony Merola® brand and likeness, Tony remained in produce via licensing agreements that were in place for a number of products, including BBQ Sauce, Hot Sauce, Tomato Sauces.
In 1996, Chef Merola added author to his list of accomplishments with the release of the cookbook, Floribbean Flavors, which fuses the Latino, Caribbean and Anglo cuisines of South Florida into one cuisine dubbed Floribbean.
Vice President, Corporate Executive Chef, Moe’s Southwest Grill®
Ciarán Duffy joined Moe’s Southwest Grill, a brand within the FOCUS Brands portfolio, as Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef after previously holding the position as Director of Research & Development for FOCUS Brands Channels Group developing licensed products for the consumer packaged goods and foodservice divisions, for each of the Focus Brands snack and restaurant brands.
Chef Ciarán brings more than 20 years of professional culinary experience to the table and is extremely passionate about providing a holistic dining experience for guests. Born in Dublin, Ireland to a European pastry chef, Ciarán got his start at just eight years old helping his father in their family restaurant. He comes to Moe’s with a diverse culinary background – cooking all over the world, his roots are well grounded in French-classic cuisine and has restaurant ownership experience. He previously oper.ated an Asian-fusion street food restaurant in Atlanta. Ciarán’s energy and passion for food, along with his dedication to providing a great dining experience allows him to bring a fresh perspective to the Southwestern cuisine Moe’s serves.
Ciarán works with the Moe’s leadership team and franchise community on menu innovation to create new platforms, flavor profiles and ingredients to continue the bold and unique dining experience at Moe’s.
Culinary Manager, Moe’s Southwest Grill®
Matt McKinney is part of the Moe’s Southwest Grill culinary team, a brand within the Atlanta-based Focus Brands portfolio. Matt preceded this position with a 12-year career at Moe’s Southwest Grill. Matt’s background includes culinary, operations and training, which he brings to the culinary team for product innovation.
Matt has 20 years of experience in restaurants and a passion for food and custom.er service. Born in Roswell, GA, Matt got his start at fourteen years of age working in kitchens. Although he has spent years in a variety of foodservice operations, Moe’s is the brand that has brought his true culinary passion of Mexican and Southwest food to the forefront. Matt gets this passion from traveling throughout the country, friends, colleagues, and most especially, from his wife and in-laws who have taught him about their Mexican culture.
In his role as Culinary Manager, Matt works with the Corporate Executive Chef, the Moe’s team and the franchise community on product innovation and development. He is tasked with creating recipes, training materials and operationally sound prod.ucts to elevate the Moe’s guest experience.