Celebrity Chef: Steve McHugh
Chef & Owner, Cured
Steve McHugh is the chef and owner of Cured in San Antonio. This four-time James Beard Award finalist for “Best Chef: Southwest” began to make a name for himself in New Orleans, until, with a new lease on life after battling cancer, he moved to San Antonio, and opened Cured. The restaurant is endowed with a name that speaks to his feat, as well as the artisanal cured meats that are the cornerstone of his menu. McHugh’s hands-on, unadulterated culinary approach is rooted in his Wisconsin-farm upbringing, and follows the same methodology that led to his healing – using from-scratch methods on seasonal and regional ingredients. Cured was named a top 50 nominee for Bon Appétit’s “America’s Best New Restaurants 2014”, a runner up for Esquire’s “Best New Restaurants in America 2014”, and to Eater’s list of “38 Essential Texas Restaurants” in 2018.
Celebrity Vintner: Kim Stare Wallace,
President – Dry Creek Vineyards
Kim Stare Wallace was literally raised among the vines in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Throughout her childhood, she watched as her father, David Stare, pioneered Dry Creek Vineyard, the first new winery to be built in the region following Prohibition. As a teen, she worked in the office, cellar and on the bottling line as well as accompanying her parents on countless sales trips, business dinners and wine tastings. From this early start, Kim grew up with a passion and understanding of the wine industry.
After graduating magna cum laude from San Francisco State University, Kim began a career in the fashion industry that would greatly impact her later role at Dry Creek Vineyard. Joining the winery in 1986 as Director of Marketing, one of her first achievements was the creation of nautical labels for Dry Creek Vineyard’s wines, an unprecedented move that has indelibly linked the winery to sailboats in consumer’s minds. Without a doubt, Kim can be credited for the creation of the winery’s dynamic brand imagery that lives on today with every bottle of wine produced.
In the mid-nineties, Kim took on the increased responsibility of Vice President of the winery, involved in all decisions affecting the quality of the Dry Creek Vineyard experience and winery operations. She has seen the California wine industry mature through its ups and downs and is determined that her family winery will stay in the family.
In 2011, Kim became President of Dry Creek Vineyard. Her vision for the future of this dynamic family business is clear – to honor the past while innovating for the future to come. Together with her husband Don Wallace, the second generation has been instrumental in guiding the winery on its path toward being recognized as a Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery. Without a doubt, the family's commitment to the environment and good stewardship of the land is tied to their desire to leave the winery to a third generation of family ownership.
Selected as a finalist for ‘Wine Executive of the Year’ for Wine Enthusiast’s 2019 Wine Star Awards and as a winner of the North Bay Business Journal’s 2018 Women In Business awards, this savvy businesswoman, mother of two, wife, and second-generation winery owner is firmly committed to a “No Compromises” philosophy, producing appellation-focused, terroir-driven, varietal-defining wines.
Celebrity Cheesemaker: Ron Henningfeld,
Owner – Hill Valley Dairy
Cheesemaker Ron Henningfeld grew up as the youngest of seven children on his family’s dairy farm in East Troy, WI. This is where his passion for agriculture education and entrepreneurship was instilled. He continued his education at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and graduated with a degree in Agricultural Science and Biology education. Each summer he returned home to help on the family dairy farm.
Shortly after graduation he and his wife moved to Kauai, Hawaii for a teaching opportunity. However, they soon returned to their midwestern roots and Ron began teaching agri-sci classes at Delavan- Darien High School. In 2009 he began to explore cheesemaking by taking classes at the Center for Dairy Research followed by an apprenticeship at Babcock Dairy back at this alma mater UW-Madison.
Ron’s cheese making experience was first established under Andy Hatch at Uplands Cheese where he worked at creating consistent products such as alpine style wheels and soft-ripened cheeses, as reflected in the award-winning Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Next he moved to working with Bob Wills at Cedar Grove Cheese where he mastered his skills in food safety procedures and policies, along with the daily operations of a cheese plant and it’s employees. In 2012, Bob Wills was offered the position of manager and head cheesemaker at the newly established Clock Shadow Creamery, an urban cheese factory in downtown Milwaukee.
In late 2015, Ron and his wife Josie began the groundwork for building their own family business and Hill Valley Dairy was established. They debuted a few cheddars and fresh cheese curds at a few markets that summer, and the business has continued to grow ever since. Their commitment to customer engagement and interest in artisan cheese has lead to them selling small batch cheese curds, mild, aged and flavored cheddars, and a variety of gouda at local farmers markets, retail locations and restaurants in southeastern Wisconsin
As of 2018, Hill Valley reached its goal of using milk from Romari farms, the family farm Ron grew up on.
Event Emcee: Luke Zahm,
Owner – The Driftless Cafe
Luke Zahm grew up in La Farge, Wisconsin- a rural community in the heart of Vernon County with a population of 775 residents. As a kid in a small town looking for an identity, he found it in a newly formed cooperative of family farmers that became Organic Valley. Food became the vehicle for his aspirations to build strong community between farmers and diners in the Driftless Region. Currently, Vernon County has the second highest concentration of organic farmers in the United States.
Luke started cooking in small kitchens in Wisconsin and fed his passion for food with work ethic, drive and a love of the Wisconsin identity. He returned to Viroqua in 2011 to pursue a restaurant that could showcase the bounty of the Driftless region. The restaurant, aptly titled “The Driftless Cafe” became the stage for an ever- changing menu of local foods, highlighted by the farmers from the region who produce the menu. More than just a farm-to-table restaurant, the operation spans into the community and spends 85% of its food budget on ingredients that are sourced within a 100 mile radius of the Cafe.
Luke has been named a two-time Edible Madison “Local Hero Award” Winner, a 2017 James Beard Semi-finalist for Best Chef Midwest, and has spent time in Washington D.C. lobbying as a part of Tom Colicchio’s “Plate of the Union” campaigns.
Most recently, Luke has been asked to host the 2020 season of “Wisconsin Foodie”. Wisconsin Foodie is an Emmy® Award-winning television series dedicated to discovering the stories behind the food we eat. Wisconsin Foodie artfully blends food, cooking and travel while showcasing local businesses, restaurants, purveyors and farmers – telling their story and helping to promote a local, sustainable economy.
Luke and his wife Ruthie, daughter Ava and sons Benjamin and Silas all live in Avalanche, Wisconsin.
For a complete list of past celebrity chefs, vintners and cheesemakers, click here.