The Innovator 50 and Top 5 Artisans Announced at

Who are the most inspiring people in the restaurant industry? Get to know the Innovator 50 and the Top Five Artisan Award winners announced at the second annual As an event focused on building the roadmap for foodservice through film, education, and networking, Foodable is proud to announce these 50 men and women who deserve to be acknowledged for their admirable contributions to the industry.  

There are five categories within this special selection of individuals, each one catering to a different area of expertise. Within each category are 10 recognized innovators in no particular order. However, one exemplary individual is chosen in each category, those five winners making up the Top Five Artisan Awards.

Innovator 50 Categories and Top 5 Artisan Awards Winners

Brand Artisan

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This select group of brands and CEOs have developed a concept that are doing more than just growing — they are setting trends for emerging brands. These individuals were chosen based on brand presence, social interaction, and product quality from research and pulled from our shows "Table 42" and "Fast Casual Nation."

Top Five Artisan Award Winner — Brand Artisan: Michael Lastoria, CEO & Co-Founder of &pizza

Michael Lastoria set out to create a different kind of pizza shop experience where quality ingredients are combined in inventive ways and where every shop reflects its neighborhood’s culture and people. And &pizza — the first Washington, D.C.-based fast-casual pizza concept — proved to be just that, with a company culture that calls its team Tribe Members, its rapid expansion to 20 shops in just five years, and numerous recognitions, such as Best Pizza and Best Vegetarian. Lastoria also serves as president of New York creative agency JWALK, a full-service creative agency that aims to go boldly against the grain. (Much like the word "jaywalk," which means to walk against traffic without permission.)

Chef Artisan

The chefs chosen for this category are culinary rockstars that have separated from the pack as innovators and creators. These individuals are at the top of their local business markets. These Innovator 50 selections were made based on market presence, social interaction, and research from our show "Table 42."

Top Five Artisan Award Winner — Chef Artisan: Sarah Grueneberg, Executive Chef & Owner of Monteverde

Sarah Grueneberg didn't start off as the James Beard Foundation Award winner for "Best Chef: Great Lakes" and a runner-up on Bravo's "Top Chef: Texas," she spent her childhood cooking with her grandparents in their ranch in Victoria, Texas. She made her move from The Lone Star State to Chicao when she joined the award-winning team at Spiaggia, where she worked her way up from line cook to Chef di Cucina to Executive Chef. Under her command, the restaurant was Michelin-starred three years in a row. Today, she mans the helm at Monteverde, which she opened in 2015. The restaurant has been named a top 50 finalist in Bon Appétit's "Best New Restaurants" list, in GQ's "12 Best New Restaurants" list, among other reputable publications in Chicago. 

Mixology Artisan

These artisans have set themselves apart as industry leaders who have created a completely new approach to mixology and the beverage business. These individuals were chosen based on creativity, bar style, overall recognizability, and research through one of our top shows, "Across the Bar."

Top Five Artisan Award Winner — Mixology Artisan: Robin Goodfellow, Partner of Bar Raval, Pretty Ugly Bar, and others

Robin Goodfellow is part owner of Bar Raval, Prettyugly and many new projects on the way. He is a born-and-raised Toronto native whose passion for bartending has branched into consulting and entrepreneurship. "I just like doing awesome shit" is something you may hear him say quite often. His many years in undergrad and graduate school in Toronto have given him a very analytical approach to all aspects of bartending and hospitality. The only things this highly-decorated bartender puts above the guest's experience are equity and sustainability.

Wine Artisan

This group of artisans have changed the way the restaurant industry looks at wine. From innovation to exploration, they have all set a new bar for what is expected. These innovators were chosen based on expertise and wine awareness, as well as their peer sentiment.

Top Five Artisan Award Winner — Wine Artisan: Rachael Lowe, Sommelier & Beverage Director of Spiaggia 

Rachael Lowe holds an advanced sommelier degree from the Court of Master Sommeliers and crafted wine programs at some of the most distinguished dining establishments in the United States. In 2010, she also won the top prize at the Ruinart Chardonnay competition hosted by Ruinart and the Guild of Sommeliers. That same year, she was awarded Star Chefs' "Rising Star Sommelier" and was named one of Food & Wine Magazine's top sommeliers of 2016.

Future Food Artisan

These select individuals represent a new breed of foodservice operators. As we look for innovation and creativity, we are also looking for practical application. These artisans walk the walk. They were chosen because we looked at the longevity and implementation of their future food practices that are transforming the business.

Top Five Artisan Award Winner — Future Food Artisan: Erik Oberholtzer, Co-Founder of Tender Greens

Erik Oberholtzer co-founded Tender Greens in 2006 in Culver City, Calif., a fine-casual restaurant concept with 24 locations and growing. A chef himself, Oberholtzer manages a growing team of talent, along with some exciting new brands. He is the founder of the Tender Greens Sustainable Life Project, a program aimed to help at-risk youth develop new skills and career intentions through structured culinary training and farm exposure. He also co-founded P. Balistreri Salumi Company, the first of more chef legacy companies that he has helped incubate and bring to market through Tender Greens. 2017: Innovator 50

Brand Artisan Rick Wolf President & COO Oath Craft Pizza
Brand Artisan Steve Heeley CEO Veggie Grill
Brand Artisan Michael Lastoria CEO & Founder &pizza
Brand Artisan Mario Del Pero  Co-Founder Mendocino Farms
Brand Artisan Ellen Chen Co-Founder Mendocino Farms
Brand Artisan Nedal Ahmad CEO & Co-Founder  Pincho Factory
Brand Artisan Matthew Corrin  CEO & Founder Freshii
Brand Artisan Scott Svenson CEO & Founder MOD Pizza
Brand Artisan Scott Davis President CoreLife Eatery
Brand Artisan Randy DeWitt CEO  Front Burner Restaurants - Velvet Taco
Chef Artisan Eileen Andrade Co-Owner & Chef FINKA Table & Tap
Chef Artisan Kevin Hickey Chef & Partner  Bottlefork and The Duck Inn 
Chef Artisan Dominique Crenn Executive Chef & Founder Atelier Crenn 
Chef Artisan Jenner Tomaska Executive Chef Next Restaurant
Chef Artisan Abraham Conlon Chef & Co-Owner Fat Rice 
Chef Artisan Sarah Grueneberg Executive Chef & Owner Monteverde 
Chef Artisan Greg Vernick Chef & Owner Vernick Food & Drink 
Chef Artisan Missy Robbins Head Chef & Owner Lilia 
Chef Artisan Katy Millard Chef Coquine
Chef Artisan Steven Satterfield Executive Chef & Co-Owner Miller Union
Mixology Artisan Robin Goodfellow Bartender & Partner Bar Raval
Mixology Artisan Danielle Dang Co-Owner & Mixologist HaiSous 
Mixology Artisan Matthew Noonan Mixologist Bell In Hand Tavern
Mixology Artisan Liz Pearce Co-Owner & Mixologist The Drifter 
Mixology Artisan Brandon Phillips Mixologist The Duck Inn
Mixology Artisan Julian Goglia Partner & Beverage Director The Pinewood and The Mercury
Mixology Artisan Ben Potts Owner & Bar Manager Beaker & Gray
Mixology Artisan Frankie Solarik Co-Owner & Mixologist BarChef 
Mixology Artisan Chris Hannah Head Bartender French 75
Mixology Artisan Micah Melton Beverage Director The Aviary and The Office
Wine Artisan Rachel Speckan National Wine Director City Winery 
Wine Artisan Yoon Ha, MS Wine Director Benu
Wine Artisan Andrey Ivanov Beverage Director Reeds American Table
Wine Artisan Rachael Lowe Beverage Director Spiaggia
Wine Artisan Juliette Pope Wine Director David Boweler Wine and formerly of Gramercy Tavern
Wine Artisan Steven Grubbs Wine Director Five & Ten
Wine Artisan Kirsta Grauberger Managing Partner Market 17
Wine Artisan David Meneses Wine Director Alexander's Steakhouse
Wine Artisan Craig Collins Master Sommelier TEXSOM
Wine Artisan Taylor Parsons Wine Director Republique
Future Food Artisan Erik Oberholtzer CEO & Co-Founder Tender Greens
Future Food Artisan Corey Hill CEO & Founder Indie Food Hub
Future Food Artisan Jehangir Mehta Executive Chef & Owner  Graffiti Earth 
Future Food Artisan Danielle Gould CEO & Founder Food+Tech Connect
Future Food Artisan Matthew Corrin CEO & Founder Freshii
Future Food Artisan Shen Tong Managing Partner FoodFutureCo
Future Food Artisan Andras Forgacs CEO & Co-Founder Modern Meadow
Future Food Artisan Ethan Brown CEO & Founder Beyond Meat
Future Food Artisan Leslie Ziegler & Megan Miller Co-Founders  Bitty Foods
Future Food Artisan Julia Collins Co-CEO & Co-Founder Zume Pizza