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 Foodable.io. 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
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.)
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.
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."
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.
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.
Foodable.io 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|