Rising Talent 2021 Semifinalists

TAOP Staff

2020 was a year like no other. A global pandemic took a human and economic toll, with restaurants and the hospitality industry being hit especially hard. Mass layoffs, temporary and permanent shutdowns, pivoting to delivery models, and donating free meals to healthcare workers were just some of the things that took place in hotels and restaurants across the country. Everywhere you looked, there were stories of struggle and heartbreak, but there were also stories of hope — moments that reinvigorated that passion for cooking and hospitality.

Now more than ever, it feels important to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of the unsung heroes of the culinary world. The Art of Plating Rising Talent platform was created to honor supremely talented individuals and future leaders who are pushing the envelope in their respective fields and pushing the industry at large forward in some way, shape, or form. 

In partnership with Perrier-Jouët and Valrhona — two brands that have aligned with The Art of Plating in their commitment to support next generation talents — we’re proud to announce 36 Semifinalists from which 16 Rising Talents will be hand-selected by our Committee. Our Committee Members this year include an all-star lineup of food and beverage professionals such as Chef Dominique Crenn, Chef Nina Compton, Chef Dominique Ansel, Sommelier Jordan Salcito, Restaurateur Brian Canlis, Hotelier Amar Lalvani, and The Art of Plating Founder Maria Nguyen. Finalists will be announced October 25, 2021.

Check out the Semifinalists below.


Alex Edmonson
Calgary, Canada

Ana Castro
Chef at Lengua Madre
New Orleans, LA

Brandon Clemons
Chef at The Bruce Hotel
Stratford, Canada

Danielle Duran
Chef-Owner of Amiga Amore
Glendale, CA

Imrun Texeira
Oakville, Canada

Jonathan Williams
Chef of Park Hyatt Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Joshua Morin
Chef of Park Hyatt Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Joshua Tango
St. Helena, CA

Ki Chung
Chef of Bar Maze
Honolulu, HI

Kurt Evans
Chef & Activist of Down North Pizza
Philidelphia, PA

Richard Lee
Chef of Saison
San Francisco, CA

Serigne Mbaye
Chef-Owner of Dakar
New Orleans, LA

Sol Han
Chef of Little Mad
New York, NY

William Kresky
Chef of Richmond Station
Toronto, Canada

Pastry Chefs

Alexandra Motz
Executive Pastry Chef of Spoon & Stable
Minneapolis, MN

Kimberly Conroy
Executive Pastry Chef at Lazy Bear
San Francisco, CA

Paola Velez
Pastry Chef & Founder of Bakers Against Racism
Washington D.C.

Rhonda Saltzman
Baker-Owner of Second Daughter Co.
Washington D.C.



Adam Watanabe
Content Creator
Durham, CA

Carolina Gelen
Content Creator
Salt Lake City, UT

Chrissy Tracey
Chef & Personality
New Fairfield, CT

David Guilloty
Chef & Podcast Host
Meriden, CT

Frankie Gaw
Food Writer & Designer
New York, NY

Jesse Szewczyk
Cookbook Author & Writer
New York, NY

Samah Dada
Cookbook Author & Personality
Corona Del Mar, CA


Arnold Byun
Founder of With Warm Welcome
Los Angeles, CA

Cristina Suarez
Founder & Creative Consultant of Isetta
New Fairfield, CT

Elizabeth Tilton
Founder of Oyster Sunday
New Orleans, LA

Manal Kahl
Founder of Eat Offbeat
Long Island City

Vanessa & Kim Pham
Founders of Omsom
New York, NY

Winston Chiu
Founder of Feed Forward
New York, NY

Wine & Beverage

Jhonel Faelnar
Wine Director & Sommelier at Atomix
New York, NY

Noel Burgess
Wine Writer
Petaluma, CA

Sahra Nguyen
Founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply
Brooklyn, NY

Sarah Hoffman
Founder of Maker Wine
San Francisco, CA

Victoria James
Author & Sommelier
New York, NY