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This year, Corks & Forks draws inspiration from the Kentucky Derby, the oldest continuously held major sporting event in North America. Guests can expect a memorable evening showcasing Southern style and timeless sporting traditions, while also enjoying culinary creations born from the region's natural bounty and presented by Northeast Florida's most notable chefs.
Corks & Forks raises vital funds for the many programs Ascension St. Vincent's offers to the Clay County community. We hope you'll join us for An Evening at the Derby!
Executive Chef and Owner of 29 South in Fernandina Beach, Schwartz became interested in cooking at a young age by helping his mother in the kitchen. He entered the University of Georgia intending to focus on psychology and Spanish literature but soon realized that, for him, cooking was more than a hobby. His change of career plans led him to the School of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, where he graduated valedictorian. As a student, he apprenticed at Carbos Café, one of Atlanta’s oldest fine dining establishments. It was there that he gained an appreciation for the finer side of the culinary arts. “I became passionate about food and this passion has provided the drive that has led me to success,” Schwartz says.
Early in his career, Schwartz’s culinary accomplishments included serving as executive chef at many of Atlanta’s best restaurants, as a food stylist for National Pork Producers Council during the 1995 World Expo, and as a featured chef during the 1996 Olympic Games festivities. In 1998, he was ranked by Gourmet magazine as one of the top 25 chefs in Atlanta and was also featured on ABC World News Tonight in a report about cultural tourism. In 2004, Schwartz cooked for the James Beard House and Foundation as chef for the American Express Celebrity Chefs Tour. Throughout his career, Schwartz has earned several culinary awards and is a member of the prestigious Les Toques Blanches. He was twice awarded Folio Magazine’s “Best Chef Jacksonville” for 2007 and 2008. The previous year Folio Magazine awarded 29 South “Best New Restaurant Jacksonville”. In 2009, 29 South was awarded the “Spirit of Slow Food Award” and a “Snail of Approval”. From 2010-2014, Florida Trend Magazine awarded 29 South the coveted “Golden Spoon”. In 2011, his Coffee and Doughnuts dessert was given the title of one of the “South’s 50 Best Dishes” in Garden and Gun magazine. Schwartz served on the International Advisory Board for the Florida Wine Fest as Culinary Chairman. He is also a Co-founder of the Legend Series.
He is involved in numerous charities and community events and is considered one of Jacksonville’s pioneers in the region’s farm-to-fork movements. His philosophy about cooking is to “baby” everything. Schwartz says “When it comes to food, everything you smell, touch, or do has to be handled carefully because one act of carelessness can destroy the final product.” He adds that he always keeps in mind that he is cooking for others and not his ego. “If I start with a perfect product, take care of it, and present it in a way that glorifies it, the least people can expect is something great.”
Chef Sam Efron, a Jacksonville native, developed his culinary style through formal and experiential training. He discovered European cuisine while living abroad as an exchange student with Florida State University. Upon graduating, Efron enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. He refined his skills at landmark restaurants such as Four Seasons Hotel New York, Gramercy Tavern and Aqua (also in New York), and Silks at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco. Upon returning to Jacksonville, Efron assisted in the opening of Restaurant Orsay. In 2009, he opened Taverna with his wife, Kiley. Efron was voted 2017 Best Chef in Jacksonville by the Folio Weekly, Florida Times-Union, and Bold City Best.
Chef Sheldon Harris started his restaurant career in New York’s Hudson Valley when he was just 16-years-old, beginning a long career distinguished by a fascination with food and a love of experimentation. Locally, Harris worked at several Jacksonville restaurants, including The French Pantry, 24 Miramar and West River, and cites Tim Felver and Liz Grenamyer as culinary influences. After serving as Executive Chef at the Continental Club for fifteen years, he became managing partner. The Continental Club offers private dining membership and is a popular site for weddings, hosting 150 a year. It works with over 20 local charities annually.
Lindsey Nettles was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL where she began baking as a young child with her family. She spent her down time baking cakes and desserts for her church, local schools and friends. Lindsey graduated with an A.S in Culinary Management from Florida State College of Jacksonville in 2014. Prior to her graduation she joined the team at b the bakery, which provides cakes and desserts to both Biscottis and bb’s Restaurants. In July of 2018 Lindsey was promoted to Head Pastry Chef at b the bakery. Today the bakery produces approximately 200 cakes per week for several businesses in Jacksonville in addition to wedding cakes and petite desserts for local events. This will be Lindsey’s third year in attendance at Corks & Forks.
Silvia Pulido was born in Nicaragua and has lived in the Jacksonville community for the last 43 years. She is the owner of Havana Jax Cafe which was stablished in 1994. As a self-starter and business entrepreneur, she nurtured the restaurant from the ground up by personally training all of her employees in an effort to maintain the tradition, ambiance, and heart of the Cuban experience. Over the years she has being reward with many accolades.
Her passions are her family and her business; a place where people from all cultures and nationalities within the community can enjoy the taste of food and Latin music.
With over 20 years in the restaurant business Tony has experienced many facets of the hospitality industry. Front kitchens to dining rooms, he has felt at home cooking and serving, striving to deliver a premier customer service experience.
In 2008, Tony began his Publix career as a Sous Chef at the Jacksonville Publix Aprons Cooking School under the direction of Chef Patrick Walley. He achieved Resident Chef after three and a half years and took over the Tallahassee Publix Aprons Cooking School where he served two years before being promoted to Senior Resident Chef and returning to Jacksonville to lead a team of talented and experienced chefs. The exposure to the many chefs who are part of the Aprons programs, including the local and nationally known chefs, helps to enrich Tony’s culinary knowledge, providing a continuing learning platform.
The first Santioni’s Italian Restaurant was established in 1987 by Bruno and Silvana Santioni. In 2003, the Santioni Family brought their love of Italian food to the Fleming Island/Orange Park area. Today, under the new ownership of Michael Mastrocinque, the legacy and legendary fresh, savory recipes continue to be the center of your dining experience. Whether you are craving a classic Italian dish such as mouthwatering Chicken Parmigiana or the eclectic flavor of grouper Sorrento, our extensive menu offers something for everyone. We look forward to providing you with our most gracious service. Buon Appetito!
Chef Rebecca Reed has always been passionate about pastries. But it wasn’t until 2009, after receiving a Sociology degree from Wingate University, that she knew it would be her career.
Following this calling, she moved to New York City to study at the French Culinary Institute. While there, Rebecca studied under some of the most respected names in the culinary industry. However, it was Rebecca’s drive and creativity that earned her a Master of Pastry Arts degree with Honors. After graduating from the FCI, Rebecca continued her New York education at Locanda Verde under the tutelage of James Beard Award winning chef, Karen Demasco. While at Locanda, the restaurant earned many accolades, including a nomination for Best New Restaurant in the country, as well as best dessert honors from New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Bon Appetite.
After New York, Rebecca returned to her Southern roots as the Pastry Chef at Aspen Grille in Myrtle Beach, SC. An Opentable Top 100 American Fare Restaurant, Rebecca wowed the Grand Strand with her fresh take on the classics. She even won the Lee Brother’s Certified South Carolina Holiday Recipe Contest for her Sweet Potato Crème Brulee with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.
Traveling farther south, she then took the Pastry Chef Position with M Hospitality Group at Matthew’s Restaurant. Rebecca brought her unique flair and classic French training to the fine-dining scene of Jacksonville, with a whimsical style that makes her beautifully crafted desserts look more like works of art. But don’t worry, these artistic creations can, and should, be eaten! Here, Chef Rebecca established the sweet side of the Matthews Cooking School, where home bakers could learn the tricks of her trade thanks to her interactive classes. In 2016, while still at Matthews, she helped open neighborhood favorite Rue Saint Marc as their Pastry Chef. There she showcased freshly baked breads as well as more casual, yet deliciously decadent desserts. This included her flavorful macarons, which received praise in a Food and Wine article about the Jacksonville food scene.
Now, Chef Rebecca has relocated to Black Sheep Restaurant Group as their Corporate Pastry Chef. She will be overseeing the pastry programs at Black Sheep, Orsay, Bellwether and BLK SHP at Intuition. Through her passion for leadership, this new platform will allow her to utilize her bold flavors, Southern roots, and whimsical style to captivate a new audience at some of the First Coast’s most popular dining establishments.
Kerri Rogers is native to Florida. She grew up in Orlando in a family that came together around food. Seeing generations of women cooking and nurturing people made her feel at home in a kitchen environment. Vibrant colors, international flavor combinations and a drive for success inspired her to pursue the culinary profession. Bypassing culinary school, Kerri got her foot in the door of kitchens by working as a dishwasher. To maintain her close relationship with her mother she moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2006.
In 2008 her industrious effort was recognized when Chew Restaurant hired her as the Garde Manger line cook. Her passion for cooking grew as she learned the brigade system of kitchen organization through Chef Jon Insetta’s leadership.
Upon the closing of Chew, Jon Insetta and Allan DeVault opened Black Sheep Restaurant. They hired Kerri again as their opening Garde Manger line cook. She continued to develop her culinary technique and leadership over the course of the next four years. Needing a chef for a new restaurant concept opening in 2017, Jon Insetta and Allen DeVault looked to Kerri. She became the Executive Chef of Bellwether. She continues to expand the palate of downtown Jacksonville as she shares her love of bringing people together around good food.
Bio to come.
Presenting Sponsors: The Hilltop Club & Restaurant ≈ Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
≈ W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor, Inc. ≈ Steve and Jerrie Sell
One hundred percent of the net proceeds from Corks & Forks will be used to benefit St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County and its vital outreach programs. Join community leaders throughout Duval and Clay County in supporting this event.
Learn more here.
We hope you’ll join us for Corks & Forks 2020. Reservations are $150 per person, and can be secured on the adjacent form, or by contacting Vanna DeLorenzo at 904.296.3823. Thank you for your support!