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2022 CHEF


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Manny Barella
Denver, CO

Monterrey, Mexico-born Manny Barella’s culinary journey has led him to Denver, where he leverages his food and his voice to amplify the importance of Hispanic cuisine and those who share it. 

Manny gained culinary experience including stints at the luxury Sea Island Resort in Georgia, Napa Valley spots Calistoga Ranch, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen and Michelin-rated Solage Resort. After moving to Colorado Manny earned a position at award-winning Frasca Food & Wine as Chef de Partie and Sous Chef at Uchi Denver.

He is currently Executive Chef/Partner at Bellota which opened in late 2020. In Bellota, Manny’s journey comes full circle with cuisine deeply rooted in tradition and authenticity. Barella leads the Hispanic Restaurant Association’s efforts to be ambassadors of authentic cuisine, while mentoring those working their way up in the industry and donating his time and talents to organizations focused on promoting culinary talent in the community. As a reflection of his work and talents Manny was a James Beard semifinalist in the Emerging Chefs category in 2022. 


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Claud Beltran
Pasadena, CA
Claud & Co. Bacchus’ Kitchen

Growing up in Los Angeles Claud was always fascinated with food, cooking his first meal of pancakes and eggs at age five.

Working the line with Master Chef Thomas Keller, Claud gained experience with the best of the best – produce, meats and poultry, caviars and specialty products – with a menu that changed daily. His efforts were recognized as he moved from prep cook through the ranks to sous chef.

Claud later rejoined Keller as sous chef and manager at Evo (olive oil) Company and at the Beverly Hills Wine Merchant (private dinners) and catering. The wine dinners gave Claud a chance to experiment and create dishes not possible in a hotel restaurant setting.

Claud became executive chef at Pasadena’s premier caterer Barbara West. Claud received rave reviews for his cuisine at West’s Pasadena restaurant, Dickenson West from the Los Angeles Times and others including a “top 50” food ranking from Zagat’s.

Claud moved on to various restaurants, such as Cayo at the Playhouse, Warner Brothers Studios, Restaurant Halie, Madeline’s and NOIR all with mentionable reviews from the LA Times.  This enabled Claud to explore new ideas with food and wine.

Claud is currently co-owner and chef at Bacchus Kitchen in Pasadena where Claud and Company catering is also based.


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Mark Casale
Sacramento, CA
Dos Coyotes Border Cafe

Chef Mark Casale has been the executive chef at Dos Coyotes more than 28 years. During that time, he has worked with owner/founder Bobby Coyote to take Dos Coyotes from one restaurant in Davis California to a regional chain in Northern CA currently operating 11 locations.

While attending the University of CA at Davis, Chef Mark began his culinary career working in kitchens in the Davis area.  Upon his graduation from Davis’ School of Agriculture, Chef completed his culinary degree on the east coast at the New England Culinary School and returned to California.

For almost 3 decades now, Chef Mark has brought his talents to Dos Coyotes using California seasonal menus to bring a unique style of Cal-Mex and Southwest cuisines to the table.  At any given time of year, you will find dishes like wild caught salmon tostada with California strawberry and black pepper salsa or local CA asparagus quesadilla served arugula and cotija cheese.

Casale remains always eager to learn and experience new flavors. Chef Mark, a true veteran of the  industry, is excited by a new generation of chefs, all over the country, bringing together cultures and people in the kitchen.


Chef Chad Clevenger Web

Chad Clevenger
Atlanta, GA
Alma Cocina

With nearly 20 years of culinary experience and a proven track record for developing innovative menus, Executive Chef Chad Clevenger is known for merging seasonality and modern cooking methods with the roots of Latin cuisine.

After graduating from the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin, Clevenger headed west, to the Coyote Café in Santa Fe, where he was responsible for menu development and purchasing at the Southwestern restaurant, spending three years working with acclaimed Chef Mark Miller. During this time, he also had the opportunity to work alongside such famed chefs as Rene Ortiz, Jesse Perez, Rick Bayless, and Tim Love.

Moving on to Denver, Colorado, where he became the chef-owner of Mel’s Bar & Grill. Clevenger received such awards as “Best American Restaurant in Denver,” “Top Tamale,” and “Top 10 Fine Dining Restaurants in Denver.” While in Denver, Clevenger also started The Porker Street Food Cart, a gourmet street food cart featuring global pork dishes. At the helm of Porker, Clevenger became known as “the swine sultan,” and was recognized for “Street Food Chef of the Year” and “Best Street Food” by Denver Magazine.

With his strong background in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, Clevenger was a natural fit for the Latin flavors and spirited atmosphere of Atlanta’s Alma Cocina – opening the first location in 2012 and the second in 2020.

During his time leading these efforts, Alma Cocina was named “Esquire Magazine’s Best New Restaurant,” “USA Today’s 10 Great Mexican Restaurants in the country,” and Chef Clevenger appeared on The Food Network Shows – Taco Trip, Burgers, Brews and ‘Que and was victorious on Beat Bobby Flay.


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Marco Colin
Chicago, IL
La Luna

Chef Marco Juarez Colin describes himself as a “homegrown” chef hailing from Chicago who grew up in the kitchen. From a young age he was immersed in an environment where he fell in love with food and fresh ingredients. Marco has worked at a wide variety of critically acclaimed restaurants in Chicago over the last decade including The Publican, Alinea and Soho House.
Marco says, “I believe that the most flavorful cuisine is made simply with fresh ingredients that help to ensure each dish has a distinctive taste. Each menu that I have created is amplified by my culinary knowledge and creativity with a twist on classical concepts. I load my dishes with excitement and I ensure that each concept that I create is uniquely my own.”


Victoria Elizondo Web

Victoria Elizondo
Houston. TX
Cochinita & Co.

Like a lot of successful chefs, Victoria Elizondo was initially inspired by her mother’s cooking. She started working as a server in a Peruvian restaurant and with guidance from her mentor, Chef Roberto Castre, she decided to enroll in culinary school in Houston. Since graduating, Victoria has worked for some of Houston’s finest restaurants, founded a marketing agency for restaurants and eventually, opened Cochinita & co. The restaurant started as a food truck and then became a popular restaurant in Houston, known for hosting Taco Tuesdays. With the challenges of the pandemic, Victoria returned to her food truck concept and is now operating Cochi’s Taqueria. For Cochi’s, she is creating authentic dishes with modern twists – again focusing on meals made from scratch with fresh, natural ingredients. She’s very proud to be able to continue to grow as a chef and share her creative, culinary inspirations and love for cooking and the Mexican culture with Houstonians.

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Enrique Cortés
Chicago, IL
La Taberna Tapas

Enrique Cortés is a native of Mexico who started working in San Diego California after culinary school, under Loren Villalobos Alsman, the executive chef of Tapas Picasso and Jeremy Kravetz (owner and GM) of Chilangos Mexico City Grill. After 5 years in San Diego Cortes moved to Chicago, which he viewed as having a burgeoning culinary scene where exciting and experimental things were happening. There he opened Riques (cocina tradicional mexicana), La taberna Tapas (Spanish cuisine) and Kie Gol lanee (cocina oaxaqueńa); He worked in a new menu from acclaimed Michelin restaurant De Colores in 2019 and in the opening of Hayden Hall (food court) south loop in Chicago in 2020. Enrique has worked with nonprofit organizations including Food Hero (a Latino-led culinary school) and Cocina Rx (a healthy meal service and education company). He has cooked for Telemundo, CBS and Fox News in Chicago. Enrique now lives in Southern California working on plant base recipes with mezcales for cocina Rx.

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Marcus Medina
Tracy, CA
Hella Pie Pizza Co.

Marcus Medina found his passion for cooking later in life after spending 11 years in the construction industry. In 2017 he decided to make a career change and began his cooking journey doing pop ups at local farmer’s markets, breweries, wineries, and private catering. His pop ups were a huge success within the community and in October of 2020 he opened up a brick-and-mortar location in his hometown of Tracy, California where he received The Entrepreneur of the Year award from the local Chamber of Commerce. 

Marcus is a 3rd generation Mexican American, and the first in his family to own and operate a business. He credits his family’s hard work and perseverance leaving the next generation in a better place. His love of family and community shows throughout his cooking. No matter the cuisine you’re sure to taste the love that Marcus feels. He remembers that his grandmothers cooked the same way and it’s a legacy he hopes to carry on. 

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Ryan Ososky
Los Angeles, CA
Dtown Pizzeria

Growing up in Michigan, a native of the Detroit suburbs, Ryan spent a lot of time cooking with his grandparents learning baking, grilling, and pierogi making skills. Ryan obtained a culinary arts degree went to Maui to further his career. Ryan honed his skills in the nation’s top kitchens working under acclaimed chefs such as Michael Mina, Charlie Palmer, Wolfgang Puck, and Bradley Ogden. Ryan has been in Los Angeles now for over a decade, serving as Executive Chef of premier restaurants like XIV and the Churchkey.

Growing up eating square pan pizza like Jet’s every weekend, Ryan has now created his chef-driven premium version of the Detroit style pizza that has become Dtown Pizzeria. Ryan and Dtown Pizzeria were recognized in the 2021 International Pizza Competition in Las Vegas winning 1st place and World Champion in the pan division.

Ryan spends his free time playing football with his pitbull, Sweetie, and trains for triathlons across the globe, having most recently competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships

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Isaias Peña
Los Angeles, CA

Chef Isaias Peña is the Regional Executive Chef for Caruso Restaurants. 

Over the course of his 26-year career this self-taught L.A. native Chef has worked with some acclaimed chefs such as  Michelin Star Chef Richard Sandoval in L.A. and NYC. Corporate chef for Red Mile/Evalee group Los Angeles. Chef Peña has worked on award winning dishes such as “Top 10 Best” burgers in the U.S. 2022 at TriSpan in L.A. and NYC. 2016, “Top 10 Best” tacos in the U.S. 2022 for Que Padre “Southern California Favorites. He has also been a featured chef at “Masters of Taste 2022” in Los Angeles and a  featured chef at Paramount Picture Studios “Hollywood Under the Stars” 2022.

Yanitizin Sanchez

Yanitizin Sanchez
Chicago, IL
Takito Brand Restaurants

Born in Toluca, Mexico, Yanni loves the aromas and variety of flavors of her homeland. She has gained vast experience in haute cuisine at prestigious venues such as the Ritz Carlton in Paris and The Mayan Palace in Cancun and Acapulco. Yanni completed her training as a chef at the “Ecole de Boulangerie et Pâtisserie de Paris” in France. Yanni is convinced that “the real secret of great cooking, regardless of training and experience is in the ritual, the respect for the culinary art, yourself as a chef and believing in the possibility that exists in each dish.”

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Bret Thompson
Los Angeles, CA
Pez Cantina

Chef Bret Thompson, along with his partner with his wife, Lucy Ramirez Thompson are the owners of Pez Cantina in downtown Los Angeles. Pez Cantina opened in 2015 and their latest location in Montebello, Ca. opened in October 2021. Pez Cantina is a seasonal, modern, coastal-inspired Mexican restaurant and bar serving the freshest sea-to-land dishes. Inspired by his travels throughout Mexico and by his marriage into a Mexican family, Bret captures the complexity and spirit of the food and culture he has developed a strong love and passion for. In 2020 Thompson launched Pez Chile-Lime Seasonings, a line of seasonings in 3 distinct flavors currently available in specialty markets and supermarket locations in California and growing!

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