Georgia Grown Announces Their 2018 Executive Chef Team

2018 - Georgia Grown, Executive Chef

Georgia Grown is excited to announce the newest additions to their all-star executive chef lineup. The 2018 team, made up of some of the finest culinary professionals from the state of Georgia, was announced on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the Georgia Restaurant Association’s Taste of Georgia event at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot. Members of the team, along with Georgia Grown executive chef Holly Chute, will travel to the James Beard House in New York City in June to showcase a Southern feast filled with locally sourced ingredients. Read more about each chef’s culinary background and their current projects below.

Brian JonesBrian David Jones  - Executive Chef - University Dining at Kennesaw State University

is the executive chef of University Dining at Kennesaw State University. A graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta culinary arts program, Jones has built his skills and philosophy at some of Atlanta’s most iconic restaurants like Canoe, Watershed, The Atlanta Grill in the Ritz Carlton Downtown Atlanta and most recently as executive chef at Restaurant Eugene. Brian’s fine dining background lends a unique perspective to his current position in which he oversees a kitchen brigade who feed more than 7,000 students, faculty and staff, daily across KSU’s two campuses.

As a native Georgian, he eagerly incorporates products from across the state and enjoys collaborating with local farmers including KSU’s own Hickory Grove Farm. “Farmers and artisans spend their time growing, raising and making the items we use; therefore, I feel a need to utilize every part of each ingredient out of respect for that person, their time and their craft.”

2018 Georgia Grown Executive ChefChristian Rodriguez - Chef and Vice President of High Road Craft Ice Cream

Christian grew up in a tight knit, military Puerto Rican family in Hinesville Georgia. Whether they lived in Kansas, Germany, or South Georgia, the way for his parents to keep the family connected to their culture was always through their food.  In his family, everything revolved around cooking so it was natural that he was drawn to the kitchen. 

Prior to beginning his culinary career, he attended Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta where he graduated in 2008 with honors.  From there, he made his debut at Five & Ten in Athens, Georgia before making the move to Atlanta and diving into the city’s food scene. As a chef for Grateful Tables Restaurant Group, he helped launch multiple concepts that all stemmed from the success of Rosebud in the Virginia Highlands area. There he mastered a new take on southern fare with tons of seasonal and local influence.  Amid his adventures with Grateful Tables, he took some time to expand his horizons and open the first Barcelona Wine Bar in the Southeast with the Barteca restaurant group where he was really able to shine in Spanish cuisine. 

Most recently, Christian is the Chef and VP of High Road Ice Cream where he oversees product development and helps manage the daily operations. He also enjoys traveling, both personally and professionally, to explore and absorb other cultures and their culinary expressions.  Although his current work is focused on the sweeter side of the food spectrum, he still participates in many events both locally and afar where he can continue his growth and craft as a chef in preparing delicious savory dishes.

2018 Georgia Grown Executive ChefEvan Cordes  - Cast Iron

Evan Cordes is the chef and owner of Cast Iron, arestaurant passionate about providing an inventive but familiar experience for Atlanta diners. Born to two Atlanta natives in Raleigh, North Carolina, Evan grew up surrounded by the southern landscape that shaped his culinary style and passion for food made from quality ingredients.

He started his career in restaurants as a teenager and has continued his journey through kitchens across North Carolina and later moved to Georgia with his wife when she entered graduate studies at Emory. After working in the kitchens of Scott Serpas and Billy Allin, Evan withdrew from Atlanta’s restaurant scene to serve as a personal chef for a family who’s impact on his direction was immeasurable. Travelling domestically and abroad, Evan grew more focused on his methods and their effect on the complete dining experience, as well as refining his taste in complimentary wines and cocktails. As the professional relationship eventually dissolved into a very personal one built on a mutual passion for the enjoyment that can only be experienced from sharing a meal with others, his employers became his business partners and they opened Cast Iron in November of 2016. Although his partners lost their lives in a tragic plane crash last year, Evan continues to operate Cast Iron with his wife today, offering an eclectic selection of food and drinks influenced by the gastronomic experiences he’s accumulated over the past two decades.

2018 Georgia Grown Executive ChefChef Jason Jimenez - Executive Chef - Kitchen Six

Chef Jason Jimenez is an Atlanta native with over14 years of experience in culinary skills. His career started while attending Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, SC where he was exposed to true southern cuisine? ?working for both the Old Village Post House and Peninsula Grill. After moving back home to Georgia, he worked at several of the acclaimed restaurants around town, including Canoe, Local Three, Muss & Turner’s.? In September 2012 he started the boutique private chef and catering company, Homespun, with his wife. With a passion for locally sourced foods and intricately crafted menus, Jason has thoroughly enjoyed giving life to the idea of an intentional communal food experience. He brings his fine dining resume and straightforward, seasonal approach to all his dishes. You can currently find him at the North Decatur restaurant, Kitchen Six serving as the Executive Chef.

2018 Georgia Grown Executive ChefJulian Goglia - Beverage Director/ partner at The Mercury, ThePinewood, The Deep End, Bar Americano, Bar Créma, and Proof Cocktail Syrups

Georgia native Julian Goglia is the Beverage Director & a partner at The Mercury, ThePinewood, The Deep End, Bar Americano, Bar Créma, and Proof Cocktail Syrups. Goglia has worked with his team since The Pinewood's opening in early 2012. Having spent five years working in compounding pharmacies, Goglia’s professional ambitions were changed by a 2011 motorcycle trip around the United States. On his journey, he learned from some of the best barkeeps in the country and was inspired to transition into the hospitality field, beginning at Jerry Slater’s H Harper Station. Goglia’s modern approach to classic cocktails has earned him a number of notable accolades including The Daily Meal’s Top 25 Bartenders in America.

2018 Georgia Grown Executive ChefChef Todd White - Department Chair/Instructor for the Culinary Arts Program at Albany Technical College

Chef Todd White is the Department Chair/Instructor for the Culinary Arts Program at Albany Technical College. Born in Albany, GA, he comes from a long line of farmers and brings nearly 20 years of experience to the table, literally! After graduating from the Art Institute of Atlanta’s Culinary Program and training at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Chef White relocated to Savannah, GA. He began a 15 year career with Marriott, and traveled around the country as one of their Senior Chefs.

White moved back to his home town of Albany, GA with his wife and two kids, in 2011. He is dedicated to sharing his passion and knowledge of food through-out Southwest Georgia, aka “God’s Country”, by being involved with community events, as well as teaching and sharing his knowledge with the students at Albany Technical College.

2018 Georgia Grown Executive ChefZach Meloy - Executive Chef/Owner - Better Half

With an upbringing that placed a heavy emphasis on food – from family vacations, to summer camps, to mornings at the DMV, Zachary Meloy always made a mental note of what he’d eaten each day as a child. While attending Johnson & Wales in Denver, Zach worked with award-winning chef Frank Stitt at Bottega, and ultimately landed on a culinary career after graduating with degrees in both Spanish and ceramics. Zach then spent close to five years living, traveling, eating, and studying in Central America.  Seeing the shared ingredients he’d once thought specific to his home in the South, he became fascinated with the natural overlaps between the Latin and Southern American kitchens.

After working alongside chefs Kevin Taylor and Sean Yontz in Denver, and Gerry Klaskala and Jay Swift in Atlanta, Zach successfully established his own style of cooking that can be traced back to his roots in Southern and Latin cuisine, while elevating them with creative flavor combinations and expressive presentations. In 2011, in an effort to build a groundswell behind their own food, he and his wife Cristina started PushStart Kitchen, an underground supper club, in a rented art studio at the Goat Farm in Atlanta. In the space, tucked away in a 130 year old factory, they served private, prix fixe meals to members of their modern speakeasy focusing on their favorite elements of their Latin-Southern cuisine.  During their almost three years in business, PushStart Kitchen garnered local, regional and national recognition, a membership list of over 5,200 members and had been featured on several television programs including TBS’ program Trends With Benefits and Food Network’s Chopped.  After feeding 100+ guests per week through the supper club, they decided to bring their passion to a new brick and mortar space, and Better Half was born. Now, Better Half continues to focus on the blurring of lines between cultures while providing a creative menu in an intimate and casual space.