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Monthly Archives: November 2012

A fourth generation chef restaurateur from an Oklahoman family, Rick Bayless has been credited for introducing genuine Mexican cuisine to the Americans and transforming its entire image in the country. Through his award-winning Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, restaurants that served tremendously delicious contemporary authentic Mexican fare, he was able to change the way diners and epicures view the region’s cuisine into something more.

Bayless unparalleled work at his restaurants earned him countless accolades including Best New Chef of The Year in 1988 and James Beard Award for Best American Chef: Midwest in 1991. His restaurants also topped countless Best Restaurants Lists in the country’s leading publications. On the heels of his Mexican restaurants’ success, he founded Frontera Foods, a company that manufactures and sells prepared foods, and Frontera Farmer Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports local farmers in the country.

The unstoppable chef also wrote his now timeless best-selling cook book entitled Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico, which made him a legend in the culinary industry as one of the greatest contributors to the Mexican table there is in the world.

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Playing an integral role in ESPN’s success for three-plus decades, Jed Drake joined the company shortly following its launch in 1979 and currently serves as Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of Event Production, a role he assumed in 2000. Responsible for spearheading a number of initiatives that helped solidify ESPN’s reputation as an innovator in the field of sports broadcasting, Drake laid the foundation for his future accomplishments after graduating from Boston University in 1978. Leveraging his Bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting and Film to obtain a position with NBC Sports, he amassed a wide breadth of experience as a Freelance Production Assistant for NBC’s popular programming endeavor, Major League Baseball Game of the Week.

Eager to pursue new challenges, Jed Drake opted to shift his focus away from freelancing when he stepped in as the sports anchor at WPTZ-TV, an NBC affiliate station based in Plattsburgh, New York. Over the course of the next two years, Drake undertook several large-scale projects that included supervising the station’s coverage of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Held at Lake Placid in close proximity to Plattsburgh, the Winter Olympics provided Drake with the perfect opportunity to display his multifaceted skill set for a national audience.

Jed Drake left WPTZ for ESPN after the Winter Olympics came to an end. Directing the fledgling network as it expanded its remote sports production ventures, Drake earned a successive string of promotions that placed him in charge of varied facets of ESPN’s programming schedule, from coverage of the America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia to the network’s national broadcasts of Major League Baseball games. Today, Jed Drake maintains responsibility for approximately 6,000 hours of programming annually. Bringing unsurpassed coverage of NBA, NFL, and MLB games to a global audience, he also oversees ESPN’s golf, tennis, and college sports divisions. Spearheading a move into high-definition broadcasting while constantly seeking alternate avenues to increase ratings, Drake remains an essential part of the ESPN family and looks forward to a bright future at the helm of this top network.

Having been born and reared in his family’s farm at Starrs, Connecticut, David Bouley was introduced to the ways of the culinary world early on. He was strongly influenced by his family’s French heritage and instilled within himself a deep love for land, great appreciation for locally-grown products, meticulous care in the preparation of food and a passion for cooking delightfully healthy meals.

Owing to this rich culinary background, David already knew what he wanted to become and set out to work in the kitchens of Cape Cod, New Mexico and Santa Fe. With his extraordinary knack for creating innovative dishes, the likes of which no culinary mastermind has ever conceived or tasted before, it did not take him long to work in the restaurants of Switzerland and France, under the supervision of world-renowned chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Fredy Girardet, Gaston Lenotre, Joel Robuchon and Roger Verge. After gaining substantial experience and honing his culinary skills to perfection, the budding chef restaurateur went back to New York City and worked in the kitchens of the top restaurants of that time such as La Cote Basque, Le Perigord and Le Cirque. Shortly thereafter, he became the executive chef of the Montrachet restaurant and quickly steered it to the heights of success.

After several years of working for world renowned restaurateurs, David decided to build his own food palace and opened Bouley in 1987. Needless to say, the restaurant, which offered one of the country’s most extraordinary dining experiences, immediately drew the attention of regular diners, epicureans and gastronomes all over the world. It enjoyed a massive success and garnered several accolades including the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Restaurant and Best Chef.

The success of his first restaurant prompted David to open a few more outstanding food establishments such as Bouley Bakery, a retail and wholesale café-bakery and Danube, a Viennese-inspired bistro, both of which instantaneously became famous and earned rave reviews from leading publications of the country. Without a doubt, David’s path to success in the restaurant industry is worthy of note, but what is more remarkable is his ability to craft culinary ideas and concretize them into extraordinary dining experiences that take all kinds of diners to a whole new gastronomic sphere.

In the field of gastronomy, one can easily say that Chef Laurent Tourondel has everything – from the passion and skills of a well-trained French chef to the sense and panache of a big city restaurateur. Owing to this superb combination, his world renowned Bistro Laurent Tourondel company has taken the dining world by storm, culminating in three magnificent New York City restaurants – the BLT Prime, BLT Fish, and BLT Steak. Needless to say, the restaurants opened to rave reviews and many admiring fans have attested that there truly is magic going on inside the kitchens of Chef Tourundel.

Although Tourondel is famous for his knack of cooking steaks and roasting lamb racks, he was first recognized for his work with seafood. He initially gained splendid reviews for his deific seafood restaurant, Cello. Shortly after that, he began working on his first cookbook, Go Fish: Modern Seafood Cooking for the Home, a guide on preparing simple seafood dishes. His cookbook, along with his restaurants, has gained worldwide fame, and has been featured in countless prestigious publications including Bon Appetit, Food and Wine and Life Magazine.

Anybody from the historically-rich city of New Orleans would know that the name Susan Spicer is synonymous to their hometown cuisine. A chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, this culinary mastermind has established a solid footing in the city’s dining scene through her exceptional food market, globally-oriented Bayona and Crescent City Cooking Cook Book.

Spicer took her first step in the culinary world as a dole-eyed apprentice to the celebrated Louis XVI chef, Daniel Bonnet. After honing her skills, she transferred to Paris and worked under Meilleur Oeuvrier de France’s Roland Durand for four months. She then returned to New Orleans and opened her 60-seat Savoir Faire restaurant. Around this time, Spicer constantly travelled to California and Europe to acquire new gastronomic ideas and polish her chef-entrepreneurial skills. Her trips gave her countless insights on various cuisines and by 1985, she decided to share these discoveries to the people of her beloved city.

Spicer opened several restaurants in New Orleans, each boasting of unique culinary experiences and garnering innumerable accolades along the way. The people of New Orleans admired Spicer’s ability to cook up global cuisines in her Bayona restaurant while they enjoyed her artisanal baking in Herbsaint’s. Spicer also runs Spice, Inc., a specialty food bazaar that offers take-out food, culinary classes and an artisan bakeshop.

Because of her magnificent culinary flair, Spicer has not only gained fame in her hometown but acquired incomparable recognition all over the world as well. She became a guest chef in The James Beard House, Bangkok’s world-renowned Oriental Hotel, London’s Lanesborough and Crystal and Cunard Cruise Lines, and has also appeared in countless local and national television programs. Needless to say, Spice garnered prestigious awards as well including the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast Region and Mondavi Culinary Excellence Award.

In spite of her tremendous success in the world of culinary arts, Spicer has not left her hometown to conquer new grounds.  She still lives in her New Orleans home and can be seen in her kitchens at Bayona or Mondo almost every night.

Born on August 29, 1960, Todd English is a renowned celebrity chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur and author based in Boston, Massachusetts. He is well-known for his colossal empire of Mediterranean restaurants including Figs and Olives, which has now conquered 18 locations in 9 cities. Todd’s most recent frontier is in the airports, with his Bonfire Steak Restaurant in John F. Kennedy in New York and Logan in Boston. Aside from managing his restaurants all over the country, the celebrity chef also busies himself with his television cooking show in PBS, entitled Food Trip with Todd English.

Born in Texas and raised in Georgia and Connecticut, Todd grew up with dreams to conquer the culinary world. He attended Guilford College in North Carolina as a baseball scholar, but eventually quit and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. In 1982, he graduated and took a job under Chef Jean-Jacques Rachou of New York’s La Cote Basque. Right after his brief stint at this high-end restaurant, he moved to Italy and worked at numerous restaurants during his stay there.

When he returned to America at the age of 25, he worked as the Executive Chef of Michela in Massachusetts for almost three years prior to opening his now famous Olives Restaurant in 1989. Todd’s career and fame skyrocketed from then on, and the chef entrepreneur is now considered to be one of the most famous and successful culinary gurus in the entire world.

A self-made billionaire, Louis B. Mayer carved his huge chunk of wealth from the American film production industry. He was born in Minsk, Russia in 1884 and grew up in Brunswick, Canada. His entire family eventually moved to Boston, and it was here that Mayer officially became an American citizen, found the love of his life, got married and had a family.

Mayer’s path to success was not flower-strewn. He started out by founding and operating a metal scrap enterprise which eventually failed. Right after his business shut down, he took several jobs to support his growing family and save for a new kind of venture. In 1907, the father of two lovely daughters bought and renovated a defunct burlesque house. He reopened it as “Orpheum”, a movie theater which initially featured religious films to help boost the reputation of the new enterprise. Business went good and a few years later, Mayer was already managing five theaters.

In 1914, Mayer established a business partnership with Nathan H. Gordon. Both of them built their film distribution firm and bought exclusive rights to run the famous film, “The Birth of the Nation”. The partners managed to acquire $100,000 in total revenue, a hefty deal given that they only paid $25,000 for the rights.

The success of the agency paved the way for grand and strategic business moves such as the creation of the Metro Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation, the release of his first successful film entitled “Virtuous Wives”, the set-up of the Mayer-Schulberg studio along with his new business partner B.P. Schulberg and finally, the merger of Metro Pictures, Mayer Picture and Goldwyn Pictures in 1924. This company came to be known as the MGM, and Mayer served as the studio chief and executive head of studio productions for nearly 30 years. During his years of tenure, he steered the company to the heights of success. He produced crowd-appealing films which featured the most gorgeous and talented stars of the era, making it the most successful and prestigious motion pictures studio in the entire world at that time.

When the wants of the public shifted and the television era was dawning, Mayer’s empire shook and crumbled to the ground. He eventually resigned and went on to try out new enterprises. But his attempts were almost always futile. Mayer died of leukemia in 1957, and left behind a legacy of timeless films that defined an entire generation.

A self-made billionaire with an interesting yet tragic story, Richard Egan began striking gold right after he graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He went on to work on numerous rapidly growing high-tech companies and then founded his very own company, the EMC Corporation. It started out manufacturing and selling equipment to colleges and commercial establishments in New England. Before long, the company was already creating and selling computer parts and accessories, the likes of which included best sellers such as the 1 MB RAM and 64 KB memory upgrades.

Egan’s impeccable leadership and keen entrepreneurial eye led EMC to become one of the most innovative firms that provided solutions to countless computer dilemmas. This paved the way for the company to grow massively and become one of the most successful corporations in the entire world. Today, EMC employs more than 40,000 employees and caters to the global market.

Although the company was, and still is, doing extremely well in the cutthroat world of business, Egan was suffering from an advanced form of lung cancer as well as several other forms of illnesses. Tired and weary, he ended his own life in 2009. The business tycoon left behind his flourishing business empire as well as a legacy of innovation and ingenious ideas that transformed an entire industry.

Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, nicknamed “Nobu” by the rest of the world, is a highly-acclaimed chef entrepreneur of the celebrated Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants across the globe.

Born in Saitama, Japan in 1949, the would-be famous chef traces the humble beginnings of his culinary ambition to the fateful day his brother brought him to a sushi diner for the first time in his entire life. The young Nobu became so fascinated with every detail of the establishment – from the ambience down to the food – that he knew right then and there what he wanted to do in life, and that was to become a prominent figure in the world of food and restaurants.

Right after finishing high school, Nobu took a job at a sushi restaurant in Tokyo. At 24 years of age, he accepted a job offer from one of his regular customers which brought him to Lima, Peru. He manned the kitchen of a newly opened Peruvian restaurant and it was around this time that Nobu honed his culinary skills and panache. He began infusing Peruvian influences into his original recipes, which little did he know, would soon become his world-renowned signature style. Three years into doing business in Peru, Nobu decided to part with his partners due to irreconcilable differences over restaurant costs.

The budding chef worked in Argentina for a brief moment then returned to Japan where he was immediately presented with another offer he cannot refuse – to open a new restaurant in Alaska. He took it without second thought but unfortunately, during one of those rare nights that Nobu was away from his kitchen, the newly-opened bistro burned to the ground.

Broken but far from beaten, and with a huge amount of debt to pay for his damaged Alaska venture, Nobu flew to Los Angeles and took another job at a sushi bar. He worked tremendously hard and used his income to uplift himself to solvency. Nine years later, he opened his restaurant “Matsuhisa” at the affluent Beverly Hills neighborhood.

Nobu’s new enterprise became an instant hit among food lovers and celebrities. It was around this time that he built a long-time friendship with Robert De Niro, who urged him to open another restaurant in New York City. In 1994, Nobu opened his eponymous restaurant and just like Matsuhisa, it immediately became a bustling food hub, well-loved by people from all walks of life.

Nobu’s career began to take off from then on and the next thing he knew, his restaurants were already gracing countless renowned publications and garnering numerous accolades. The 44-year old chef became an enduring presence in innumerable magazines, television shows and movies, and just like his restaurants, he was awarded with several prestigious honors as well.

As of the moment, Nobu owns 25 successful restaurants strategically located in 21 cities all over the world. He lives in Beverly Hills with his lovely wife, while his daughters live in Tokyo. The famous chef currently busies himself with his restaurant operations and travels around the globe, paying outstanding restaurants a visit and searching for new sites to conquer.

Back in 1947, Danish toymaker and carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen was designing and manufacturing old-fashioned toys when he came across an interesting product designed by a British child psychologist. It featured tiny, plastic blocks that had hollow bottoms and studded, interlocking tops. Christiansen, who called his toy company Lego, began to create his own version, which he eventually called the Lego Bricks.

The key to Christiansen’s new product was how the bricks fit perfectly together. Early versions of the toy were either too loose to fit together or too difficult to separate. Through hard work and perseverance, he finally found the perfect formula and created his Lego Bricks with hollow tubes in its underside. The product’s popularity skyrocketed and in the next decades, he was already creating and selling Lego Bricks dollhouses, train sets, spaceships, motorcars and ultimately, human figures.

Perhaps one of the greatest things that led to the success of Lego was Christiansen’s ability to brilliantly combine construction, creativity and imagination – these three along with his building skills built a massive empire that conquered an entire industry.