Center Stage

A highlighted feature of the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York - Center Stage is an educational, interactive and entertaining area for restaurant and foodservice professionals who want to stay abreast of what's hot in the food world. Come see our featured chefs, watch their cooking demonstrations and taste their samples! 

Thank you to our 2020 Chefs!

Chris Jaeckle



Alex Guarnaschelli



Raise the bar



Mareya Ibrahim



Max Cavaleri



Marc Forgione



Jackie Topol



Coaches Hot Seat



Jonathan Scinto



In Partnership with:


Servingware Sponsor:

The 2020 Stage was packed with fascinating demonstrations!
We're excited to have another jam packed Center Stage line up for the 2020 Show. See you there!


SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 2020 11:00 am - 12:00 pm, CENTER STAGE
Chris Jaeckle


Chef Chris Jaeckle has established himself among the best in New York’s deep pool of culinary talent, he knew early on that he wanted to be a chef. Originally from Long Island, New York, Jaeckle attended Westbury Vocational School for the Culinary Arts throughout high school and he furthered his culinary career at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.  After graduating from Johnson & Wales, Chris began his New York City career at An American Place, and followed that experience with 7 years in Union Square Hospitality group, splitting his time between Tabla and Eleven Madison Park. His interest in Asian flavors then drew Jaeckle to Morimoto, where he served as sous chef. Where Jaeckle developed the precision and reverence for the process of Japanese cuisine. Chris joined Michael White and team at the Altamarea Group. Under Jaeckle’s direction as Chef de Cuisine, in 2011 Ai Fiori was awarded a Michelin star as well as a three-star review from The New York Times. In 2013, he moved on to open All’onda as proprietor and chef, which has been heralded by Thrillist as one of New York City’s 11 Best Restaurants of 2014. Jaeckle was also named as Eater’s 2014 New York City Chef of the Year.

Chris grew up with a passion to explore all cuisines and culinary techniques that make up the rich diversity of New York.  Since 2015 Chris has focused his constant desire to learn about these and their techniques through consulting, with Kitchen Connect.  It has given him the opportunity to study several other cuisines that were not already in his repertoire, from borscht belt to Latina America.  


SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 2020 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm, CENTER STAGE
Alex Guarnaschelli


Few American chefs, much less female chefs, can boast leading Michelin-starred restaurants abroad. Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli can make such a boast, having embarked on a culinary journey in France that saw her working in some of that country’s top restaurants, including esteemed chef Guy Savoy’s eponymous three-star kitchen. Today Guarnaschelli is recognized as one of America’s most accomplished top chefs, acclaimed for her work in the kitchen, as an author, and as a popular television personality. 
The daughter of esteemed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli, as a child Guarnaschelli received a global education in food as she was raised on the cuisine of whatever book her mother happened to be working on at the time. During a year devoted to her mother’s work on the manuscript of Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni, Indian cuisine starred at the dinner table; months spent working on Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s The Splendid Table ensured that Italian food appeared regularly on the menu. But it was not the younger Guarnaschelli’s fate to be only a spectator; her mother urged her to be a participant. 
"My mother was always coaxing me from my ‘Barbie land’ under the dining room table to peel potatoes, knead bread or assemble a trifle,” says Guarnaschelli, who jokingly continues, "what else could a seven-year-old have wanted from life?"  
This early exposure to the foods of the world both expanded her palate and determined her future. In 1991, after Guarnaschelli graduated from Barnard College, she decided to explore her culinary interests and began working under the tutelage of the acclaimed American chef and restaurateur Larry Forgione.  
Sensing both her innate talent and need for wider experience, Forgione encouraged Guarnaschelli to travel and expand her skill set. Taking his advice, she moved to France to do a work study at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy. After earning her Grand Diplôme in Culinary Arts, she traveled throughout France before moving to Paris to begin a four-day stage at the Michelin three-star restaurant Guy Savoy. Four days turned into four years with Guarnaschelli rapidly being promoted to sous chef at La Butte Chaillot, another Savoy establishment. Though it was daunting to be a young American woman in charge of a French kitchen with ten young male cooks serving under her, she rose to the challenge, winning the respect of all who shared her kitchen in the process.  
After seven successful years in France, Guarnaschelli returned to the States to join the venerable Daniel Boulud at Manhattan’s iconic restaurant Daniel, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become sous chef. Thereafter, seeking to further expand her culinary knowledge, Guarnaschelli moved to Los Angeles for two years to join Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group, working at the acclaimed Patina restaurant in West Hollywood before moving to New York to open Splichal's first New York City venture.  
In 2003, Guarnaschelli became the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, which provided the opportunity for her to spread her wings and develop a menu based on her own choices and point of view. Guarnaschelli created an American menu spotlighting local ingredients in dishes that allowed their flavors to shine. In 2011, following the success of Butter, she opened The Darby, a unique supper club. In addition to restaurant work, Guarnaschelli also spent a few years instructing budding professional chefs as a chef-Instructor at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education, becoming a member of the ICE Advisory Council. In fall 2015, Guarnaschelli opened Driftwood Room at Nautilus South Beach in Miami, Florida. In a departure from the kitchen to the stage, in 2015 Guarnaschelli premiered her one-woman live comedy show, Busting My Chops, at Caroline’s on Broadway and also appeared in East Hampton at CAROLINES @ THE BEACH in August 2016. A popular mainstay on social media, Guarnaschelli was recently named the Head of Twitter’s Food Council, a group of leading culinary figures who regularly join the Twitter conversation on all things food and food culture. 

CLICK HERE to learn more about Alex! 


SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 2020 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm, CENTER STAGE
This must-attend seminar will be set up as a discussion with demonstrations from these top experts in the hospitality industry. These experts will lay out three essential components to ensure your establishment is delivering the customer experience necessary to be successful! They will be talking about the importance of implementing a structured training program that will motivate your staff and build their confidence to achieve consistency and consumer spending, elevating guest experiences by making simple changes to your cocktail presentation to build visual value, and adding a culinary element to your cocktail program that allows you to expand on flavor while keeping costs low. As customers’ expectations rise, so should your staff, presentation, and offerings!


Art Sutley

Art Sutley, Publisher, Bar Business Magazine Nightlife & Hospitality Expert

Art Sutley, Publisher of Bar Business Magazine and Nightlife & Hospitality Expert, has been in the restaurant/bar space for over 19 years. He is the co-creator of Bar Business Magazine, the hospitality industry’s how-to resource, which provides valuable information to the modern-day on-premise owner, manager, and food & beverage director on trends, new products, and growing business and profits. This has led to Art being featured as a hospitality expert in many of the top global media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NRC Handelsblad,, Thrillist,, Bonfort’s Wine & Spirits Journal, DrinkMe, Fox News, Fox Business and What’s Eating NYC. Art has also appeared on the Paramount Network’s hit TV Show Bar Rescue as a Recon Expert assisting host and industry expert Jon Taffer.
Mia Mastroianni

Mia Mastroianni, Celebrity Mixologist, Consultant as seen on Bar Rescue

With over 15 years of experience in the service industry from Boston to Miami, Mia Mastroianni became one of the founding bartenders of Soho House West Hollywood – the private members-only club where she remained a well-respected and often requested mixologist for the who's who of Hollywood until 2016. Known for her tall figure and sassy fun attitude, “Tall Mia” has also opened Soho House locations in Miami Beach, FL and in Toronto, Canada - training their respective bar staffs on giving the highest quality of service, implementing proper technique, and executing incredible cocktails.  Her expertise led her to be cast as an expert mixologist on highly rated TV show "Bar Rescue".  Working directly with host Jon Taffer, she has assisted in the rescuing of numerous bars across America, from Philadelphia , PA to Norwalk, CA. Mia stays current with industry and consumer trends by attending and speaking at various seminars and conferences, and continues her education in the spirits industry by traveling both locally and internationally to various distilleries. Mia’s also been a bar consultant on various feature films and regularly consults on new bar programs. 
Phil Willis

Phil Wills, Owner/Partner, The Spirits In Motion© Consultant as seen on Bar Rescue

Has been in the bar/restaurant business for over 20 years. He is the current owner/partner of The Spirits in Motion, a nationally recognized bar and beverage consultancy. He has worked in all types of locations from your corporate restaurants, small local bars, major night clubs, to your craft bars and high end mixology establishments. He was involved in flair bartending for over 10 years. These have led to Phil being featured in multiple conference engagements such as Nightclub Bar Show, Vibe Conference, The Flavor Experience, and Tales of the Cocktail.  Phil has been featured in multiple media outlets and talk shows/morning shows across the U.S. creating cocktails. Also currently one of the Bar Experts/Mixologist on the highly rated TV Show Bar Rescue being utilized to deliver revenue generating cocktail programs for failing establishments.


MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020 10:30 am - 11:30 am, CENTER STAGE
Mareya Ibrahim


As seen on Recipe Rehab and the Food Network, Mareya Ibrahim is The Fit Foodie, a TV chef, holistic nutrition coach, author and award-winning entrepreneur and inventor. She is the author of the new book, "Eat Like You Give a Fork: The Real Dish on Eating to Thrive" and host of the "Recipes for Your Best Life” Podcast. She is a signature chef to the NY Times bestseller “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life”. Her column, “The Fit Foodie" appears in Edible Orange County Magazine. She is also the co-inventor of the patented eatCleaner line of products. Learn more at


MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020 11:30 am - 12:30 pm, CENTER STAGE
 Max Cavaleri, Executive Chef, New York Times and Thomas McQuillan, Vice President, Strategy, Culture and Sustainability at Baldor Specialty Foods will present a live cooking demonstration and discussion entitled The Food Asset Potential. During this session, you will learn about the value of fully utilizing all of the food you manage to create economic value for your food service establishment, preserve our environment and provide food to those most in need in our communities. Chef Cavaleri will demonstrate how to prepare a delicious dish using food products that might otherwise be wasted while Thomas McQuillan takes us on a zero food waste journey. Walk away with sustainable ideas and education that you can implement into your organization immediately! 
Max Cavaleri


Max Cavaleri is the Executive Chef at The NY Times, overseeing the executive dining room, two cafes, and the Times Center catering. He has been a chef for over 15 years, graduating from the Art Institute of California and cooking at several Michelin Star restaurants including Joe’s in Venice Beach, CA under Joe Miller, and Cafe Boulud in New York City under Gavin Kayson. He has worked at the Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel and the five star Schweizerhof hotel in Luzern, Switzerland. He has cooked for Restaurant Associates for over seven years at the Hearst Corporation and in various positions at The NY Times before taking over operations at their headquarters two and a half years ago. 


Thomas McQuillan is a transformational executive with 25+ years of successful business leadership experience and a demonstrated skill for turning around underperforming organizations and spearheading acquisition and business integration initiatives. His strong convictions, relentless drive, and business acumen have enabled him to inspire personnel and lead organizations in propelling profits and achieving dramatic growth.
From 2002 to 20014 Thomas managed the finances of IDC Corporation and eventually became its president. As president he transformed a distressed, privately owned construction materials distribution company with negative profits into a best in class enterprise. Over his more than 10 years with IDC, Thomas created and executed strategic initiatives that reduced debt and cash flow challenges while increasing sales, enhancing operational efficiency, and elevating customer satisfaction. In 2012, Thomas sold IDC to Distribution International based in Houston, and remained as president of IDC until March of 2014.
In 2015, Thomas joined Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc. located in the Bronx, New York as serves on the company’s executive team.  As Director of Food Service Sales and Sustainability, Thomas is tasked with creating the strategic plan to make Balor more Sustainable. Thomas spearheaded the SparCs (scraps spelled backwards) initiative to reduce food waste throughout the company. Baldor’s sustainability initiatives are also focused on overall waste reduction throughout the organization and the company has launched a number of initiatives to become more energy efficient.
In 2016, Thomas assumed the role of Director of Food Service Sales and Sustainability. Servicing the restaurant trade for over 25 years is the core of our business at Baldor. Delivering world-class customer service and the highest quality produce and specialty food items, on time and complete is our mission and Thomas’ number one priority. In 2018, Thomas was promoted to Vice President, Strategy, Culture and Sustainability. The primary sustainability objective this year is to achieve a zero organics waste to landfill goal company-wide. 


MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm, CENTER STAGE
Marc Forgione


Chef Marc Forgione is the chef/owner of Restaurant Marc Forgione and the co-owner/partner of Khe-Yo. Chef Forgione began his career at the age of 16, joining his father, Larry Forgione (a culinary legend who revolutionized American-style cooking in the '70s and '80s), in the kitchen at An American Place.

Forgione opted for a traditional four-year education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he graduated from the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. He spent his summers working the line at restaurants such as Above in New York, with acclaimed chef Kazuto Matsusaka. These stints would lay the groundwork for Forgione's post-collegiate toils, again alongside his father at An American Place and later under Patricia Yeo at AZ. When Yeo and celebrated chef Pino Maffeo opened Pazo, they took Forgione along to serve as sous chef at the short-lived eatery. When Laurent Tourondel set out to develop his flagship, BLT Steak, he recruited Forgione as his sous chef.

In an effort to diversify his experience, Forgione left for France, where he secured a series of humble posts under Michel Guerard in Eugenie les Bains and worked at three of the region's finest restaurants, Le Pres D'Eugenie, Ferme aux Grives and Le Cuisine Minceur. Upon his return to New York, Forgione promptly reunited with Tourondel, who invited the now seasoned chef to serve as chef de cuisine at BLT Prime. Forgione was later named corporate chef for the BLT Restaurant Group, a position that enabled him to expand the BLT brand across the country.

With Marc Forgione (, formerly known as Forge, Forgione's first restaurant, he has created an approachable place "that people walk by and are compelled to enter and where the ingredients are the star." Restaurant Marc Forgione was awarded its first Michelin star in 2010. In addition, Forgione received a two-star review from Sam Sifton of The New York Times, who noted, “Mr. Forgione’s food is sometimes sweet. Other times, it is salty, sour or spicy. Sometimes it is all four — and loudly so. The brashness is deeply and above all American: an augmentation of international cuisines in a land of plenty.”  The restaurant also earned the distinction of being named "Key Newcomer" by Zagat Guide, "Top 25 Restaurants in NYC" by Modern Luxury magazine and "All Star Eatery" by Forbes magazine.  Forgione was awarded "Star Chefs Rising Star of the Year"; named "Rising Star" from Restaurant Hospitality magazine and mentioned "New Formalist" by Esquire magazine. In 2010, Chef Forgione won season 3 of Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” at just 31 years old, making him the youngest chef to earn the title.

In 2013, Marc founded the steakhouse American Cut (, opened with LDV Hospitality in New York City and Atlanta.
In summer 2013 he opened a Laotian restaurant, Khe-Yo (, with Executive Chef Soulayphet Schwader. Khe-Yo features cuisine from Laos, where Chef Schwader was born, and uses both local and authentic ingredients. In 2014, Chef Forgione became an author as well with the release of “Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant.”

Chef Forgione recently announced he will be opening Davide, a coastal Italian restaurant in the Meatpacking District of New York City, with his father Larry Forgione in partnership with The Butter Group in early 2020.

In addition to supporting numerous NYC charities, Chef Forgione is a Chef Ambassador for Family Reach Foundation, Chefs for Kids Cancer, City Harvest, and Feeding America.



TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2020 11:00 am - 12:00 pm, CENTER STAGE
More than 1 out of 3 adults in America has prediabetes and about 70% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes over time. This HAS to change. Join integrative dietitian and culinary nutritionist Jackie Topol, MS, RD for an enlightening discussion and culinary demo on the most important changes to make to your diet to manage blood sugar and reverse prediabetes using a plant-forward diet.


Jackie Topol, MS, RD, CSO, CDN, CLT is a registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist based in New York City. Jackie holds a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, completed her dietetic internship at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and has over 10 years of experience in culinary arts. To further her education, Jackie has studied integrative medicine and nutrition for years through the Institute of Functional Medicine and the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy, among others. To help her clients achieve optimum wellness, Jackie draws on her vast experience as a dietitian while also taking a holistic approach to make recommendations that fit each person's lifestyle and health goals. Jackie’s career was inspired from her own struggles with health. Fed up with bad skin, extra weight, and GI problems, she made significant changes to her diet that led to an incredible transformation. Armed with her own positive experiences and first-hand understanding of “food as medicine”, Jackie was determined to dedicate her life’s work to helping people heal through good nutrition. In her free time, you’ll find her in the kitchen with her students at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan where she has been an instructor since 2007. Jackie is passionate about sharing her knowledge of nutrition through her therapeutic cooking classes that feature foods that prevent diseases and promote good health.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Jackie! 


TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2020 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, CENTER STAGE
Feeling brave? Volunteer to take the "Hot Seat" on Center Stage and strap yourself in for a lightning fast session of rapid-fire coaching as 2 of the industries top coaches explore the what, why, where, when and how of YOUR operations...with no punches pulled! David Scott Peters and Darren Denington will root out the hidden operational flaws that are choking your profits...and help you cash-in on giant opportunities you're completely overlooking! Or simply watch the session and learn scores of excellent ideas you can adapt to your own restaurant.
Volunteers will be selected in the audience at the beginning of the event! ​



David Scott Peters
  David Scott Peters, Restaurant Coach & Expert

Darren Denington
Darren Denington, Founder & President



TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2020 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm, CENTER STAGE
Chef Jonathan is Bold Flavors, Spiked Hair and yes, "Cheftainment"! Influenced by Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay and Julia Child, Chef Jonathan Scinto is pure Fire, that lights up the TV. He cooks and entertains for viewers and live audiences in a way that can only be described as magical. His image is best described as Uncle Jessie from Full House meets Goodfella’s, with a touch of class. Always Classic and Eye Catching, this Long Island Chefs fashion style is Ralph Lauren meets Vans. Don't miss get'n saucy with Scinto as he demonstrates his techniques to a quick Sunday sauce! 


Jonathan Scinto is a Chef, TV Host, Creator, Spokesman and Entrepreneur from Long Island, N.Y. While, most toddlers were watching Sesame Street, Jonathan watched Julia Child, Emeril Live, Jacques Torres and Iron Chef Showdown in Japanese with his mother Alison.
She allowed Jonathan to experiment in the kitchen using the blender to make crazy concoctions, scrambling eggs on the floor and even practicing his knife technique on his parent’s new vinyl chairs. The love of food was evident to his mom and dad.

The Long Island native utilizes rustic Italian flavors and Asian influences to create what Chef Jonathan calls "Itasian", a fusion of Italian and Asian cultures. When Newsday asked Chef Jonathan about his cooking style, he told the journalist that he relies on his design background to create his plates.

"You eat with your eyes, then your mouth, so it’s important to grab your attention at first site then first bite, I don’t believe in using pre-made ingredients, I use only the freshest herbs and spices to create plates of art".

After graduating college with a BFA degree from NYIT, Jonathan was hired by Post Perfect to work in their Client Services department working with such A-list clients like, HBO's Sopranos, Sex & the City, Back Street Boys, O-Town, Mariah Carey, Linkin Park and Alicia Keys. In the early 2000’s, Jonathan opened a café with his father on L.I, which was one of the 1st to focus on scratch made ingredients with a farm to table approach called Home Cookin Café.

After many years as a restaurant owner and working at a local culinary school, Jonathan’s wife Annmarie told him he needed to get his food talents in front of larger audience on TV. Annmarie said in a recent interview "Of course people would love my husband, he’s a natural in front of the camera and people can relate to him, he brings an authentic freshness to TV that is missing on all the shows today".

Jonathan is the creator and host of the reality TV series, "Family Kitchen Revival" now streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Roku via GlewedTV. "Chef Jonathan Scinto visits 8 families who have dealt with incredible hardships and helps them heal thru the power of food". Click here to watch season 1 of Family Kitchen Revival.

As a national TV Personality, Jonathan has been seen on numerous TV shows like Food Network "Chopped", FOX’s MasterChef 6 and numerous other networks like ABC, NBC and CBS. The Food Network Hand-picked Chef Jonathan to compete in "Iron Chef Showdown": Battle Autumn Bounty the live version hosted by Alton Brown.

Jonathan has appeared in numerous national publications like the iconic Good Housekeeping, HuffPost, BuzzFeed, Newsday, Entrepreneurial Chef, Total Food Service and Preferred Health Magazine to name a few. You might have heard Chef Jonathan on iHeart Radio, The Grindhouse Show and several other syndicated stations throughout the US.

Jonathan likes to compete in food competitions each year and one of them is the richest in all food sport in the world called World Food Championships where recently he finished 3rd in the world in the Chef Category. Over the past few years Jonathan has helped raise over $250,000 for numerous local and national charities. He was recently honored by Schneps Communications with the prestigious Oscar like award called the "Vicki" for "Kings of Long Island" as a top businessman and philanthropist.

You can catch up with Chef Jonathan in person by going to one of many national events, or by following him on his social media @chefjonathans. He currently lives on Long Island, NY and is married to Annmarie, they have 3 daughters.


Please email Patricia Copela at for consideration and additional details