The OCRA's objective is to promote, illuminate and unite the Orange County restaurant industry. Pam Waitt brings years of experience in the culinary industry and is best known for launching “OC Restaurant Week” in 2008 which is the region’s most celebrated dining event in Orange County. She is known for her visionary spirit and leadership abilities along with a commitment to developing Orange County as a world class dining destination. She firmly believes that food has power and connects us all. The association is also the company behind the Golden Foodie Awards, and many other successful events that unite and invite all of OC. Pam believes in showcasing Orange County's dining scene as a whole, and enjoys creating innovative, fun events that appeal to all palates.
MASA OSE - Executive Chef
Masa Ose is Managing Partner & Executive Chef of Bangkok Avenue, Huntington Beach. A third-generation chef, Ose draws upon the culinary influences of his childhood spent in Hong Kong, Japan, Los Angeles, Miami & Thiland. At a young age, in his native Hong Kong, Ose started helping his grandparents tend the family farm. By the time he turned 15, Ose was working at his parents’ Japanese restaurant in Japan, then Miami, which would put him on his career path of becoming a chef. After earning a degree in Culinary Arts from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Ose began his climb up the culinary ladder. First, working as a personal chef before being hired at The Restaurant at The Getty in Los Angeles where he worked with notable chefs such as Jacque Pepin, Lissa Doumani, Hiro Sone and Deborah Madison for special events. Ose later moved to San Francisco where he joined the team at McCormick & Kuleto’s before returning to Southern California where he currently resides. Ose joined Water Grill South Coast Plaza for a couple of years where he utilized his attention to detail & commitment to technique delivering exceptional culinary experiences to guests daily.
Micah Schiesel - Regional Operations Director - The Lounge Group
Micah is an Orange County native, his resume spans starting his managerial career as the Wine Director for Mastro's Steakhouse in Costa Mesa, being a founding employee of the Simms Restaurant Group, Director of Restaurant Operations for Golden Road Brewing and is currently the Regional Operations Director for The Lounge Group which has 10 venues scattered throughout Orange County.
Named as one of Orange County's most influential people to watch in 2016 by the Orange County Register, Mona Shah, owner of Moxxe PR, is regarded as one of OC’s most successful restaurant publicists. While doing her best to be a hands-on mom to three beautiful children, Mona has managed to create a reputable name for herself by working with some of the area's top restaurants, including The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Driftwood Kitchen, Provenance, ADYA, Puesto, Haven Craft Kitchen, Portola Coffee Lab, Sapphire Laguna Beach, Hendrix, Sushi Roku Newport Beach, and Fable & Spirit. In addition, Mona sits on the Board of Directors of the Orange County Restaurant Association and promotes OC's largest culinary event, Orange County Restaurant Week. Her PR experience comes a wide range of positions, from being the PR Director for the Miss Universe Organization and coordinating initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa with the Harvard Aids Institute, to working on the annual Golden Globes and Academy Awards telecasts, which she continues to do today.
Tricia A. Cook
As co-producer of the Golden Foodie Awards, Tricia was an integral part of the successful launch of the inaugural event in October 2012. Prior to joining the OC Restaurant Association team in 2010, Tricia was director of marketing and PR for Orange County’s largest culinary school, The Art Institute of California – Orange County. During her tenure, she led the California Initiative Marketing Group; worked with more than 30 charity events; created and executed numerous award-winning food, fashion, music and art events, including the highly lauded Rock the Runway; and oversaw the development of innovative online initiatives, such as shapethehive.com. A veteran marketing and advertising professional, Tricia has also worked with national brands, including Del Taco and La Victoria Salsas, and DGWB Advertising.
Armen Karamardian – Zov’s Restaurant Group
Armen Karamardian serves as President of Zov’s Restaurant Group. Anchored by the critically acclaimed Zov's Bistro in Tustin, the family's burgeoning business also includes a nationally renowned café and bakery, locations in Newport Coast, Irvine, Orange County's John Wayne Airport, and San Clemente (slated to open in early 2020). In his role as president, Armen works closely with Zov to develop the concepts, researches and selects sites for each concept, works with management and other staff on various human resources issues and engages in other day-to-day duties to ensure that Zov's continues to live up to its sterling reputation.
Cathy Pavlos – Provenance
Chef Cathy Pavlos is the driving force behind one of Orange County’s most unique and dynamic eateries, Provenance. Chef Cathy grew up in a typical close-knit large Italian family and most of her childhood memories of family have to do with cooking with her grandmother for Sunday family gatherings. Though educated as an architect and an art historian, and despite more than 20 years in architectural practice and as a college professor, Chef Cathy has always been drawn back to cooking. Having traveled to Italy every year for the past 30 years, she has been developing a collection of remarkable recipes, inspired by her grandmother’s cooking and her favorite restaurants in Italy, France and Greece. These recipes, seen on Provenance's menu, have been slightly modified to build in the flavors of California with its emphasis on the use of healthy and high quality ingredients, such as certified Angus beef, free-range turkey, hormone-free chicken, wild salmon and locally grown organic produce.
James Ulcickas – Bluewater Grill
Jim “Jimmy U” Ulcickas founded Bluewater Grill in 1996, with partner Richard Staunton of Sydney Australia with the simple goal of serving great seafood, in a casual atmosphere, at moderate prices by a friendly and knowledgeable staff. Born in Massachusetts, and raised in Connecticut, Jim graduated from Dartmouth College in 1983. In 1989, Jim joined American Restaurant Group, Inc., in Newport Beach, as controller of Spoons, a $35 million division encompassing 20 restaurants.
Pascal Olhats has been a culinary icon in the Orange County restaurant industry since 1988 and is considered one of America’s most acclaimed French chefs. He has received numerous awards to include Chef of the Year, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, Restaurant Hall of Fame National Award as well as serving as president of the French Chef's Association. Pascal Olhats’ former flagship restaurant, Tradition by Pascal, was rated the #1 French restaurant in Orange County for over ten years by the Zagat Guide. Today, he operates Epicerie Pascal, Café Jardin, Pascal Catering, Pascal at Hutton Centre, and Pascal's Tea Garden Creperie and is the management/chef consultant for Brasserie Pascal.
Restaurateur Andrew Dorsey has a discerning palate for phenomenal food, he is on the cutting edge of culinary trends, and has the passion and know-how to make it as a restaurateur in Orange County's competitive foodie scene. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dorsey is a natural entrepreneur, starting his first restaurant at just 23 while playing for the Spokane Shock and winning the 2006 Arena Football World Championship that same year. Together with his brother, Brian Dorsey, he opened one of Anaheim's top bars and hangout spots - 195 Downtown Grill in 2005. Graduating from Portland State with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a minor in Business, and following on the success of 195, Dorsey spent time in San Diego, LA, Portland, and Seattle, studying the latest in culinary and mixology trends. In 2012 Dorsey moved to Costa Mesa to focus on bringing something new and exciting to the restaurant scene in Orange County. His love for ingredient focused, chef-driven restaurants, handcrafted cocktails and wines are what fueled his passion to create an inviting and lively restaurant to house it all. In addition to opening SOCIAL Costa Mesa and his other restaurant concept in Orange County, Dorsey co-founded Give Love Back with his wife Raquel, a charity committed to helping families in need throughout Orange County. Andrew and his wife reside in Costa Mesa, they enjoy experiencing the latest restaurants across SoCal together, and have two children.
Antonio Bevacqua was born in the beautiful city of Montecanti Terme in Italy. A city renowned for its thermal waters, natural hot springs and world class spas, Montecanti is located in the heart of Tuscany. Antonio grew up surrounded by art, culture, food and wine, all passions that stuck with him in life. He graduated with a degree in culinary arts from the Hotel Management School F. Martini and immediately began working at prestigious hotels thought the tuscany region as a sous chef and executive chef. This time served him well and only furthered his love of restaurants. Antonio worked at small restaurants throughout Orange County as a server before moving into Management with the Patina Group. After his tenure with Patina, he returned to his Italian roots and to work as manager and eventually became General Manager for Il Foranio group at one of their most prestigious restaurants located in Newport Beach.
Alicia Whitney - SeaLegs Wine Bar
Alicia Whitney brings a high level of experience in the media, marketing and events industry. Prior to starting SeaLegs, she created and planned events for promotions, media and entertainment and managed the marketing of venues in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Through her versatile skill sets and exposure to the various food & beverage industries, she was able to transfer that knowledge directly into building her own business creating an instant success of SeaLegs Wine Bar which now she is building into a strategic franchise operation.
Bruno Serato - Anaheim Whitehouse
It’s the quintessential American success story. A young man immigrates to the United States with nothing more than a dream and $200 in his pocket, works hard and creates one of the culinary world’s most respected and lauded fine dining establishments -- the Anaheim White House -- with Presidents, royalty and A-list celebrities among his loyal guests. However, it's his charity work that has fueled his international celebrity. In homage to his own humble beginnings, Serato has made it a priority to give back to those less fortunate in the community. In honor of his mother, he founded Caterina’s Club, an organization dedicated to making sure the region’s most vulnerable population – its children -- receive a hot meal before they are tucked into bed each evening. 7 nights a week he prepares dinner that is transported to the “motel kids," thus named as these underprivileged children are forced to live in rundown motels because their poverty stricken parents are unable to afford more permanent housing. In addition to having served more than 500,000 meals so far, he has begun placing some of these families into homes of their own. Serato's extreme generosity has earned him worldwide status. He was named one of CNN's 10 Heroes of the Year and has been featured in magazines (People, Elle, Vogue), television ("CBS Evening News," "EXTRA,") and newspapers (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, OC Register) countless times. He is due to become knighted by the Italian government, was honored on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with a humanitarian award and has received any number of proclamations, Man of the Year awards and other forms of recognition. Today, he continues to run his highly successful Italian steakhouse, but makes sure to open its doors not only for his own Caterina's Club, but to so many other nonprofits that are greeted with a warm and generous embrace. His generosity in that regard earned national attention when he donated 200 fundraising dinners accommodating 100 guests each to deserving nonprofits in the community. While his prowess in the kitchen knows no bounds, so too does his generosity, which, in itself, is changing the world for the better.
Greg Daniels - Harley Laguna Beach
A Southern California native, Greg Daniels’ passion for cooking was sparked when he was just 15 and working at a fast food joint, where he fell in love with the camaraderie of a restaurant environment. In his 20s, Daniels paid the bills by working as a bartender at several Orange County restaurants and lounges, but he never lost sight of his dream of becoming a chef. “I was cooking quite a bit at home, and was always excited to learn more,” he says. “With cooking, I saw an opportunity to use more of my creative side within the restaurant industry.” Daniels subsequently enrolled in the Le Cordon Bleu program at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, CA, from which he graduated in 2005. While studying, he worked at a small Italian eatery in Huntington Beach, doing everything from washing dishes and sweeping floors to cooking on the line—all without pay to gain more experience. Daniels next worked as a line cook at acclaimed dining establishments such as Pascal in Newport Beach, where he further honed his skills. After leaving Pascal, he worked alongside Executive Chef Andrew Sutton at Napa Rose in Anaheim, which gave him the opportunity to work in a kitchen with a more modern flair, as well as learn new cooking techniques.
Rob Quest - Sundried Tomato
Rob Quest grew up in Minnesota and at 15 started working as dishwasher in a local restaurant. He was quickly promoted and by 19 he was the Manager of a fine dining restaurant. He loved the energy and the feeling of making people happy, Rob had the Restaurant business in his blood and could not get it out. Rob moved to California in 1985 and started College at Chapman University he eventually went on to Pepperdine University, where he obtained his Degree in Business Administration. It wasn’t until 1993 when he opened a small Café and Catering Company in Whittier, CA called “Sundried Tomato”. The name stems from a special marinade that was developed and used in the Cream of Sundried Tomato Soup. The soup is so good that it deserved a restaurant to be named after it. In 2001 Rob opened a café in the heart of downtown Laguna Beach. The concept of his café was to be European in the sense that you could sit outside by a fountain and watch the world go by while enjoying a great menu with lot’s of options. 2003 another Sundried Tomato Café was opened in the heart of San Juan Capistrano next to the Mission. In early 2009 the newest and largest location of the restaurants was added in San Clemente. This restaurant is named Sundried Tomato an American Bistro, with a larger bar and a family style dining experience. Rob says, “I am passionate about food and wine. I love people and I love nothing more than to make them happy. Nothing puts a smile on my face like a happy customer.” For a better description of Sundried Tomato – please visit the website: www.sundriedtomatocafe.com
Charles Frazier - Chef / Restaurateur
As a kid, Stan Frazier always knew he wanted to do one of two things when he grew up: be a drummer in a rock band or go to culinary school and become a chef. For the past twenty-five years, Frazier has been the drummer and principal songwriter for the band SUGAR RAY. After racking up six Top 10 hits and selling over 10 million records, he decided it was time to trade in his drumsticks for a set of new Japanese knives and chase his culinary dreams. Recently, he did just that. In April of 2012, Frazier was cast on a food-based reality TV show called CHEF RACE: UK vs. U.S. that followed 16 chefs (all classically trained but himself) from Santa Monica, CA to New York City, competing in entrepreneurial and culinary elimination challenges in an attempt to win a cash prize. After fifteen long and grueling weeks on the road, Frazier won the competition and took home $100,000.00. Pretty good for an untrained chef.
Rob Hallstrom - 714 Media
Robert Clunie - Steakhouse 55
Teresa Razo - Villa Roma / Cambalache
Jason Schiffer - Tradecraft Hospitality Collective
Jason Schiffer is a partner in Tradecraft Hospitality Collective, a restaurant and bar consulting company that advocates for the passion and quality of Southern California’s hospitality industry. Jason has also owned and operated the award-winning 320 Main in Seal Beach since 2009. Jason personally trained and mentored bar staff, many who have taken their experience and gone on to obtain positions at and run reputable cocktail bars across the country. 320 Main has received numerous accolades over the years, most notably when it was nominated for Best American Restaurant Bar in the nation by the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in 2014. Jason’s signature drink the Detroiter was named OC’s Best Signature Cocktail by OC Weekly and was published in two cocktail books.
Jason was elected as the Secretary of the United States Bartenders Guild Southern California Chapter in 2012. In 2010, to help foster the local cocktail culture, Jason helped found the Orange County Bartender’s Cabinet, a group for local bartenders who share a passion for craft cocktails. The group has grown to over 500 members and has met every month for education from peers and industry representatives. Due to Jason’s work with the OC Bartender’s Cabinet, he was named one of 2014’s Most Influential people by OC Register and 320 Main was included in OC Weekly’s list of the 20 Most Important Orange County restaurants of the past 20 years.
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