When it comes to cravings, these three are the experts. Our in-house chefs – Matt, Oona and Heath – are dedicated to serving up inspiration, finding fresh flavors and delivering solutions that work on your menu.
These leading chefs from around the country work hand-in-hand with the Crave Makers to bring you the scoop on the next big trends in foodservice.
Dining at University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern
Goodfriend Beer Garden
From crave-worthy recipes to fresh takes on industry challenges, check out how our chef team is Making the Crave.
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Chef Heath didn’t always know he’d be a professional chef. He earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before changing course and attending the Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale.
Now, Heath has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant and foodservice industry, including working alongside celebrity chef, Beau MacMillan, at the Sanctuary Resort in Paradise Valley, AZ, and as a contributing chef at The Gallery in Lake Forest with his friend, James Beard nominee, Chef Dominic Zumpano.
In the food manufacturing industry, Chef Heath has created recipes for a premier sous vide manufacturer and developed products such as sauces, spice blends, ready-made deli salads for multiple brands. Most recently, Heath served as the corporate executive chef for a dairy company in New Zealand.
He is the author of the cookbook “I’m a Chef & My Kids Want Buttered Noodles” (Amazon Publishing) and the owner of Hey Chef Heath—a personal chef experience, where he creates 5 course dinner parties in people’s homes.
During his spare time, Chef Heath likes to travel and taste the world with his wife and 2 children.
The daughter of a classically trained Chef and a Hotel Manager, Oona has the hospitality industry in her blood.
She opened her first restaurant in Folkestone, Kent, England at just 20-years old.
After moving to the United States, she opened the popular Dallas hotspot, Going Gourmet, in 1990. There, she created a constantly evolving menu of seasonal specials and developed a popular market of fresh and frozen restaurant favorites that customers could take to-go.
Oona has worked as a Corporate Executive Chef for Dave & Buster’s, held Research and Development roles at TGI Friday’s and On the Border restaurants, and has been a featured chef in several national marketing campaigns including California Raisins and Franks RedHot Sauce.
In 2004 she became the first female chef to earn Menu Master’s “Chef Innovator” Award by Nation’s Restaurant News and has been recognized as one of the “Top Fifty Culinarians in America” by the same publication.
At home, Oona enjoys collecting vintage cookbooks, horseback riding, and RVing across the country with her husband.
Chef Matt is a Chicago native with some heavy-hitting culinary credentials.
After receiving his degree in Culinary Arts from Kendall College, Matt went on to train under some of the most legendary chefs in the business including Francois Kwaku-Dongo, Jean Joho, and Wolfgang Puck.
Chef Matt has worked as Chef de Cuisine at the Hyatt Hotels world headquarters and was a sous chef on the culinary team at Blue Duck Tavern in the Park Hyatt Washington, D.C., which earned a coveted Michelin Star and was named one of the “10 Great Hotel Restaurants in the World” by Hotels Magazine.
Outside of restaurant experience, Matt has worked as a chef for one of the world’s largest producers of Stevia, PureCircle LLC, the foodservice division on Kraft/Heinz. There, he founded the culinary innovation department and created the Weber Grill Academy, a public all-grilling school.
As a member of the Chicago Public Schools Culinary Chef Council, Matt works with CPS to increase food education among Chicago’s over 350,000 students by crafting healthy meals and providing insights on new trends and flavor profiles.
In recent years, Matt earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science from Kansas State University and became a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation.
Chef Matt is one of only 5 people in the world to achieve the title of “Certified Weber Grill Master” and is a certified BBQ Judge from the Kansas City BBQ Society.
Chef Bob grew up in the industry and found his love for cooking while working at his family’s restaurant in New York.
After earning a BA in Food & Beverage Management from the New England Culinary Institute, Chef Bob landed a job as a Sous Chef at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, RI. From there, he went on to become the Executive Chef of two restaurants: The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar and Smokehouse, both in Newport.
In 2014, Chef Bob took a position as the Executive Chef of Residential Dining at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There, he’s successfully handling recipe & menu development, overseeing daily production, and managing food costs. When he isn’t on campus, you can find Bob running, traveling, brewing beer or spending time with his family at home.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Chef Brian spent his childhood in his grandmother’s kitchen learning the art of Southern comfort food.
He got his formal start in the industry at 16-years-old working in the kitchen of New Orleans’ famous Aurora Steakhouse. Wanting to take his culinary career further, Chef Brian moved to Miami, Florida to pursue degrees in Culinary Arts and Food & Beverage Management.
After school, Chef Brian moved to Chicago to serve as the Chef de Cuisine—and eventually Executive Chef—at Narcisse Champagne and Caviar Salon. In 2010, he played a major role developing the menu for the opening of Frontier, a popular game and seafood restaurant in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. Eager to pay homage to his hometown roots, Chef Brian opened Ina Mae Tavern, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant, in 2018. Ina Mae has earned a spot on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list for the past two years.
In recognition of his amazing culinary chops, Chef Brian was nominated for James Beard Awards in 2019 and 2020.
Restaurant concept development, menu design, university dining, and high-end catering are just a few of Chef Chris’s specialties. With more than 38 years of experience in the hospitality industry, he brings an outstanding breadth of knowledge to the table.
Chef Chris began his journey into the culinary world as a Dishwasher and Server’s Assistant and worked his way into successful chef roles at restaurants across the Midwest and East Coast.
For the last 20 years Chef Chris has been focused on C&U dining at Sodexo. He’s held a wide variety of leadership roles with the company, including Resident District Manager at Indiana University and Regional Executive Chef, overseeing more than 130 college dining programs in the Midwest area.
In his free time, Chef Chris loves giving back to his community. He’s on the Board of Directors for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank and has helped provide more than 80,000 pounds of prepared foods to those in need.
Self-taught, Chef David has always found inspiration in the kitchen. He began his career dishwashing for Johnny Carino’s and was promoted to Kitchen Manager only nine months later.
With experience working for Dave and Buster’s, Grand Lux Café and various restaurant openings, he has a strong respect for restaurant management.
Chef David is known for his creative take on Texas cuisine, with influences from Mexico, Southern cooking and barbeque. His work with whole animal butchery, curing, and foraging coincide with his passion for sustainability.
His previous restaurants include the brewpub Braindead Brewing and taco concept Bowls and Tacos. In 2016, Braindead was nominated for “Best New Restaurant in Dallas” by D Magazine and won “Best Burger.”
Married with three children, Chef David loves cooking for his family and can be found smoking bacon, pickling peppers or curing pastrami on his days off.
Chef Jill Barron grew up in a family that believed that food and life should not be overly complicated—which describes her approach to cooking. She’s worked at some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles and Chicago and honed a reputation for refined simplicity throughout her career.
Jill co-owns and operates Mana Food Bar, a global vegetarian restaurant, and Anaba Handroll Bar, a Japanese-inspired handroll and cocktail concept. She is also the Chef at Beatrix in Chicago and has consulted on menu development at several venues, including Azucar!, a Latin wine and tapas bar, and HiFi Juiced, a juice and coffee concept catering to trainers.
An avid traveler, Chef Jill has an extensive understanding of global flavors and a knack for anticipating the next big trends. Her ability to combine foreign flavors with fresh, local ingredients has earned her a reputation for creating elegant, appealing dishes.
Among multiple other awards, Mana Food Bar was awarded “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” by Time Out and has 6 Bib Gourmands.
Chef Mario’s inspiring culinary career proves that hard work and passion can lead to major success. His journey began in 1996, working as a Food Runner/Pot Washer at the Hilton Chicago. He quickly earned a promotion to Cook and has been climbing the ranks ever since.
Over the course of his career, he’s worked at Hilton properties in San Francisco, Houston, Cancun and more. These days, Chef Mario is back where it all started, working as the Executive Chef at the Hilton Chicago.
Chef Mario grew up on a farm in Fresnillo Zacatecas, Mexico where he learned to love cooking with local, seasonal and fresh ingredients. He has a Culinary Arts Degree from the Illinois Institute of Art and in his spare time he likes to try new restaurants and tend to his garden.