Philanthropic Foodies is honored to showcase the best of the best in local culinary talent
Chef Jason Jessmore is the co-owner of The Chef & The Cook (Baldwinsville) and Chef4Rent. He has managed kitchen and restaurants locally in Syracuse, and Baldwinsville & also Winterpark Florida in his 19 year career. He has also had the honor of cooking at the James Beard House in NYC. He is a graduate of CCI.
Chef Jason has built his reputation on culinary classics, world and progressive cuisine, while blending flavors and cultures. Known for his unique style and passion for food, he brings his twist to the local area with a combination of unique,creative,local ingredients with unique and modern presentations.
Eva Zaczynski owns and operates Eva’s European Sweets, a Polish restaurant on Milton Ave in Syracuse. Since 1997, Eva has been proudly serving homemade, authentic Polish cuisine and delicious cakes and pastries. Eva’s has earned a reputation for serving tasty food, providing genuine service and creating a welcoming and memorable environment. When patrons walk into Eva’s, they can often be heard saying things like “I feel like I’m in my grandmother’s kitchen” or “this place looks like a quaint, European café.” If you haven’t been there, we invite you to try it!
Pit Master Dick Benedetto has been smoking and grilling meats of all kinds for over 20 years. He now owns and operates Smoke Incorporated BBQ, a Syracuse based BBQ catering company. He has a quickly growing reputation as one of the premier BBQ chefs in the area.
Along with serving the standard BBQ fare; pulled pork, smoked chicken, baby back ribs and brisket he also cures and smokes bacon and ham. He makes a wide variety of sausages and bratwurst. He makes all of his rub and sauces from scratch. And has a long list of house made side dishes.
Pit Master Dick Benedetto and Smoke Incorporated BBQ always jump at the chance to be a part of fundraisers and charity events.
The York is a creation of Syracuse native Danny Vault. The York is a little taste of New York City dining and nightlife. The York's decor carries an industrial chic vibe with refined elements. The space invites you to dine or simply enjoy a cocktail and small plates at the poured concrete bar or lounge seating.
The creative menu rotates seasonally with modern and classic dishes that take inspiration from cultures around the world. Ingredients are sourced locally-sourced whenever possible. In the warmer months you'll find a world-class raw bar along with Upstate NY cheese plates and charcuterie. If you're not in the mood for popper meal, have a drink and try some house-made bar snacks. To compliment the unique cuisine, the cocktail menu features one-of-a-kind seasonal libations. The York also features a curated beer and wine list with highlighting local breweries & vineyards.
Chef DeAnna Germano is the founder of Chef4Rent, a food truck, meal delivery service and catering company. She is now co-owner and co-Chef of The Chef &The Cook in Baldwinsville & Chef4Rent with Mark Germano and Jason Jessmore. You can find Chef DeAnna on her food truck serving locally sourced inventive foods at local breweries, wineries and festivals. When she isn't on the food truck Chef DeAnna is at her latest venture, The Chef and The Cook. DeAnna also heads up all of the catering for all the venues. She is a 40 under 40 recipient for 2017, a recipient of the Syracuse Business Woman Community Achievement Award for 2016, and you may have even seen her on the cover of Syracuse Woman Magazine in July of 2016. DeAnna prides herself on locally sourced cuisine as well as fusion cuisine, and dabbles in baking.
Chef Mark Germano is co-owner and co-Chef of The Chef &The Cook in Baldwinsville & Chef4Rent. Chef Mark studied at Le Cordon Bleu and has worked in the culinary industry for over 13 years. In the past he has managed the kitchens at places such as SKY Armory, Aster Pantry and Parlor, The Lincklaen House. Chef Mark has a true passion for cooking from the soul, and learning traditional techniques while putting a new world spin on it.
Alex, born & raised in Syracuse, Lauren born and raised in Philly. Both earned degrees from the The Culinary Institute of America and worked in Philadelphia with James Beard award winning chefs Marc Vetri & Jeff Michaud. In 2016, Alex and Lauren traveled throughout Europe, learning about the food culture as well as working on farms throughout Europe (primarily Italy). Both are now at the helm in the kitchen at a mano in downtown Syracuse recently named the number 2 Italian restaurant in Upstate NY by Syracuse.com and quickly becoming known for their extremely fresh take on regional Italian foods.
With almost 20 years of industry experience and a flair for fine dining and a passion for food, Nick brings enthusiasm and creativity to the team. ?
The name Défi in part came from Chef Nick telling us how the greatest challenge for a chef is to open his or her own restaurant. To see a project like this through to reality takes a huge amount of drive, grit, and determination.
"Défi to me is a dream that I've had for years and was beginning to think would never come true." "I was always looking for the right person to go into business with, someone that has the same passions as me, I'm happy to find that" - Chef Nick
Cody brings 15 years of industry experience, and has an unbridled passion for local, sustainable, and organic food. His passion drives him to source products from the local community. "I see so much amazing food from great local farmers, it should be a crime that this isn't celebrated!"
Chef Cody's dream is to help change the way food is grown in this country. "By asking the farmers what they need to grow to improve the land, we are helping to change the mono-crop system that has been in place for years!" Change starts with one person, I'm happy to be a part of the continuing food movement in this country.
Sarah Hassler, owner of Hassler Hospitality Group, is a classically trained chef with a background in farm-to-table cuisine and a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Chef Hassler spent years climbing the hierarchical ladder of the kitchen up to the executive level and has now ventured out on her own to pursue excellence in hospitality. Her passion for inclusivity and thoughtful food drove her to form Hassler Hospitality Group. Her company’s main goal is to push the Syracuse food scene forward and HHG currently operates by consulting with restauranteurs on startups, build-outs, and relaunches for area restaurants.
Sam Mondello owns and operates Vince's Gourmet Imports, an Italian gourmet delicatessen and grocery store in North Syracuse. Born and raised in Syracuse, Sam learned an early passion for quality local food from his parents, grandparents and while traveling to Italy to visit relatives. Since 2006, Sam has been proudly carrying imported Italian groceries and making many homemade items using family recipes and years of traditions. Vince's quickly earned a reputation for selling quality authentic Italian food, providing genuine service and creating a welcoming and memorable environment. Vince's is actively involved with community outreach throughout Central New York.
The company prides itself in contributing to local organizations by donating time, products and resources to such groups.When patrons walk into Vince's, they can often be heard saying things like “this brings back memories of my childhood”. If you haven’t been there, we invite you to stop in for a true taste of Italy!
Born and raised in Camillus, NY Matt learned an early passion for quality local food from his parents large backyard garden. He began cooking at 19 at the Blarney Stone and Wheelers on Tipperary Hill.
From there he attended New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. From there, he moved to the Livermore Valley in California and worked as a Sous Chef at Wente Vineyards. After two years on the west coast it was time to come home to family and to help bring the local food movement to Central New York.
Before landing as Executive Chef at Empire Brewing Company in 2009, Matt spent time in several Central New York restaurants such as: Lemongrass, Mirbeau Inn and Spa, the Brewster Inn, and the Sherwood Inn. At Empire the focus is on local meats, vegetables, cheeses, and sustainable business practices such as composting and renewable energy. He resides in Camillus with his Wife, son, and daughter.
Luke Szabo owns and operates Scratch Farmhouse Catering, farm fresh catering using local and seasonal ingredients located in Marcellus NY. Luke is a self-taught chef with over 17 years of kitchen experience, with a main focus in local and wild edible cuisine.
Prior to starting Scratch Farmhouse Catering, his food journey took him through the Finger Lakes, Sheldrake Point, Executive Chef at Bistro One, Mandana Inn, and LOFO in Armory Square. Outside of his professional career Luke has consulted and created seasonal menus for local restaurants, participated in several local cooking experiences including, Phish Magnaball Festival Ate, SaltCity DISHES, the annual Baltimore Woods EnvIRONmental CHEF Cook-off event, Cayuga / Seneca Community Action Agency Cook-off, and local SPCA fundraiser wine dinners.
Luke's passion is inherently local and when he is not in the kitchen he can be found in the woods foraging for your next meal. With a genuine passion for food, Luke is always trying to find creative outlets to showcase his unique and flavorful combinations.
Chef Kyle Mastropietro is the Chef Owner of Kasai Ramen in Armory Square. Kyle has over 20 years of restaurant and hospitality industry experience. He has honed his craft and knowledge by working for very successful operations in Philadelphia and Syracuse. Kyle started in a family Italian restaurant at the age of twelve. It was there he discovered his passion for the industry. He has worked front and back of house positions in Gastro Pubs, Italian, Latin and French restaurants and as a Corporate Chef.
Kyle has always used his position to push people to broaden their pallets with his take on out of the box fusion cuisine. This is showcased at the newly opened Kasai Ramen. The team at Kasai focuses on constantly learning and improving each and every day to provide an exceptional experience for its patrons. With thoughtfully curated beer & spirit menus to compliment the seasonal cuisine and a unique, beautiful location Kasai Ramen is a must try in Downtown Syracuse.
Shawn started at Marriott Syracuse Downtown as Sous Chef in June 2016, playing a part in the opening of the hotel, as well as Eleven Waters, and eventually Shaughnessy’s, and would eventually take the role of Executive Sous Chef, before leaving for a brief period to help open another area restaurant. Shawn returned in April 2019, claiming the role of Sous Chef for Eleven Waters specifically. Previous to the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, Shawn spent 10 years at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, acting as Sous Chef for restaurants such as Pino Bianco, and TS Steakhouse. Just recently, Shawn completed his certification to be a ServSafe Instructor and Proctor.
Michael Speach Jr. is the president and head chocolatier of the Speach Family Candy Shoppe, located on the historic Syracuse Northside. Still family owned and operated for four generations, Speach's has been around since 1920, serving the community's collective sweet tooth for almost a century.
While the shop offers classic fan favorites such as chocolate covered potato chips, as well as nostalgic treats like Tootsie Roll and Jawbreakers, Michael has been at the forefront of new products since 2007 when he took over the family business after graduating from Ithaca College and working in theatrical design in New York City.
Under Michael's direction, Speach's has released several new product lines such as Top Shelf TrufflesTM, Chocolate BricklesTM, and his latest endeavor: Fruit WorkzTM by Speach Family Candy. Partnering with several other New York State manufacturers — such as Recess Coffee, Empire Brewing and Syracha’Cuse, Michael has created a diverse chocolate collection, from sinfully sweet items to savory treats for every palate.
Lifelong Syracuse resident Mark Bullis began his restaurant career in 2002 when he opened Bull & Bear Pub as part of the revitalization of downtown Hanover Square. In 2008 he added catering to his resume, with the launch of Bull & Bear Fire Grill Catering. ProntoFresh, a made to order salad concept followed in 2011. In 2013 the serial entrepreneur expanded out of the downtown area with the launch of the Bull & Bear Roadhouse on Route 298 in East Syracuse. Never one to rest on his laurels, he followed up the success of the Roadhouse concept as part of the creative and culinary team with Modern Malt, a gastro diner located in Armory Square. This year he opened a second Bull & Bear Roadhouse on Route 57 in Liverpool.
Mark is on the board of directors for Syracuse for St. Jude and has partnered with dozens of local charitable organizations including Vera House, Home Headquarters, Hops for Hope, the Pheo-ParaTroopers, Arc of Onondaga & the East Syracuse Volunteer Fire Department.
As Executive Chef and CEO of Bull & Bear Syracuse, Mark’s current culinary passion is American fusion and he loves experimenting with new menu combinations utilizing unexpected flavors from around the world.
When he’s not working, Mark enjoys riding Harley Davidsons, fly fishing and spending time with his family.
SKY Armory has been a labor of love since its doors first opened in 2014. With a commitment to the downtown Syracuse community, the multi-level event venue is focused on providing fresh, local, delicious cuisine! The SKY team believes food is an important aspect of any gathering, and wants their guests to thoroughly enjoy the experience from start to finish.
The talented culinary team at SKY Armory starts with fresh ingredients, blended from scratch with creativity, mixed with their love of food and voila - the magic happens! Providing menus that adapt to the changing seasons (of which Upstate New York has no lack of), and are completely client customized for each event, the team guarantees a unique experience each time you dine. The chefs at SKY work with local and regional farms to purchase sustainable food products wherever possible, and know no limits in savory and sweet; comfort, global or gourmet.