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The *NEW* Culinary Innovation Theater offers the opportunity to engage in a whole new way with your colleagues as well as world-renowned chefs, bartenders, and culinary professionals.


Culinary Demonstrations with great conversations

A highlighted feature of the New York Restaurant Show - the *NEW* Culinary Innovation Theater is an educational, interactive, and entertaining area for restaurant and foodservice professionals who want to stay up to date in the industry.

Come see our featured chefs, watch their cooking demonstrations and taste their samples, while learning about their styles & backgrounds.


Culinary Innovation Theater Tech Sponsors:


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Christian Petroni Chef, TV Personality and Restaurateur

Christian Petroni

Chef, TV Personality and Restaurateur

Born and raised in the Bronx, Chef Christian Petroni has made a name for himself as one of New York City’s most prominent Italian-American chefs. Christian first rose to fame as the founder of the groundbreaking wood-fired Italian restaurant Fortina, which had five NYC area locations. During his time at Fortina, he found stardom on the Food Network, where he’s appeared on shows including Guy’s Grocery Games, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Beat Bobby Flay, and Supermarket Stakeout. 

Jason Santos Owner and Chef, Buttermilk & Bourbon

Jason Santos

Owner and Chef, Buttermilk & Bourbon

One of Boston’s most creative and charismatic chefs, the blue haired Jason Santos, has wowed guests with is innovative cuisine and his larger-than-life personality at his four bustling restaurants. They include Nash Bar, Buttermilk & Bourbon Boston, Buttermilk & Bourbon Watertown and Citrus & Salt. 

Following his success in Boston’s best kitchens, Santos competed on Season 7 of Fox-TV's hit television show, Hell's Kitchen. Santos’s larger-than-life personality and culinary expertise quickly secured him as a fan favorite and garnered the attention of one of the industry's top critics, Chef Gordon Ramsay. His successful run on the show concluded with a runner-up finish and a newfound national recognition. Jason will be returning to Hell’s Kitchen as Chef Ramsay’s Sous Chef for the Blue Team for his fourth season.

Santos is also a recurring guest on the Today Show, Live with Kelly &Ryan, CBS-TV’s The Talk, The Today Show, and subsequent seasons of Hell's Kitchen. Santos also appears regularly on the popular Paramount TV hit show, Bar Rescue where he rehabilitates failing restaurants and bars as the chef-expert alongside Jon Taffer. 

In March of 2019, Santos debuted his first cookbook, Buttermilk & Bourbon. Jason has just released his second cookbook titled Simple Fancy, which is available at bookstores across the nation and on Amazon. 

Alexis Grant Executive Performance Chef, Dallas Mavericks

Alexis Grant

Executive Performance Chef, Dallas Mavericks

Chef Lex was a private chef before joining the Mavs. Her clients include New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, former 10-time NBA All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, and singer/actress Kelly Rowland. She also was the private chef for guard Kyrie Irving before he was traded to the Mavs last February.

Chef Lex’s big break in the culinary industry came when she was pegged by the NBA to work in the NBA bubble in suburban Orlando in the summer of 2020. She describes that as a transformative moment.

Chef Maria Loi Loi Estiatorio in Manhattan

Chef Maria Loi

Loi Estiatorio in Manhattan

Chef Maria Loi is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, author, television personality and philanthropist working to change the world - one healthy bite at a time. Known as the Julia Child of Greece, she is the founder and face of a lifestyle brand that nurtures a healthy body and soul, melds the inspiration of ancient Greece with a modern approach to the Mediterranean diet, cooks up a heaping dose of happiness, humor and joy and helps people boost their immunity and improve their health, wellness and longevity.

Chef Loi is known for her expertise in a variety of sectors including film and media; hospitality and entertainment; telecommunications; restaurants and food products, packaging, and marketing. Her government and media relations consulting and lobbying clients have included Net Med International (Film Net), Super Channel International, ITT Corporation (ITT Sheraton and ITT Caesars), and Nokia Telecommunications among many others.

Chef Loi is passionate about sharing the magic of all things Greek – especially the culinary treasures, recipes and practices passed down through the generations and from her grandfather. Deeply popular and beloved in Greece and a food superstar in the U.S., she exudes kindness, friendliness and warmth, makes a friend of everyone she meets and lights up rooms with her bountiful energy, infectious smile and hearty laugh.

The founder of Loi Food Products, a specialty brand built on traditional ingredients from Greece; her pastas, beans, botanical herbs, refrigerated dips, honey and olive oil are sold on QVC, at Whole Foods Markets and in other stores.

The author of more than 36 cookbooks, she is also host of a new show, THE LIFE OF LOI, on PBS, debuted on broadcast in December 2022. It aims to build an inspirational and educational movement around the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle – from ancient to modern, food to culture and everything in between. 

The namesake of Loi Estiatorio in Manhattan, Chef Loi has cooked for celebrities and Presidents. But she most enjoys gathering with a roomful of diners over a good meal filled with laughter and stories and passing out smiles and homemade cookies to children who visit her restaurant.

Named an official Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy by the Chef’s Club of Greece, Chef Loi is also a passionate and dedicated philanthropist who supports a wide variety of causes focused on children and the underserved.

Natalie Jewell Executive Chef Bidfood Spain

Natalie Jewell

Executive Chef Bidfood Spain

Natalie Jewell, executive chef for Bidfood Spain and also the export manager. I came to Barcelona to study cooking school in 2006 and from that I had the joy and pleasure of working in iconic restaurants such as El Bulli, Jean Luc Figueras and also practiced at Mugaritz. In Brazil I had a chance of being with chef Alex Atala. Im specialized in molecular cuisine, a style of cuisine which you can play with textures, sensations and shapes of food but always respecting the original flavour of the ingredient.

Kari Underly Author, The Art of Beef Cutting

Kari Underly

Author, The Art of Beef Cutting

Kari was honored by Provisioner Magazine as one of 25 Future Icons of the Meat and Poultry Industry. She’s the author of the James Beard-nominated book, The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising. Kari was recently a judge on the popular TV show, Chopped, and has served as judge for America’s Pig Farmer of the Year for the last three years. Kari’s work can be seen in meat counters all over the world. Her work was instrumental in adding value to the carcass with single muscle research and merchandising methods and tips. Her favorite role is that of an educator as she travels the country conducting meat training and butchery demonstrations for businesses and meat enthusiasts. Her latest project is Range® Meat Academy Online, a certificate program for meat clerks and meat cutters.

Eric Howard Partner, Gramercy Ale House, New York City Firefighter

Eric Howard

Partner, Gramercy Ale House, New York City Firefighter

Eric Howard is a New York City Firefighter assigned to Squad 18 in Manhattan, one of NYC’s 8 elite special operations Squad companies, he also is a partner at the Gramercy Ale House right here in Manhattan. Eric has competed on MasterChef  Season 7 in which he placed in the top 8. In 2019 Eric competed in Food Networks “Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge” a multi week competition in which he made it to the finale. Chef Eric has also been featured in FOX 5’s Good Day New York, Elvis Duran and the Z100 Morning Show, along with a feature in both Family Circle and Rachael Ray Magazine. A proud father to Josie and husband to Olivia, Eric has much more up his sleeve, in the New York City restaurant scene.


Deanna "Bomb Chica" Colon

Chef and Food Personality, Dishing with Dianna

If Rachael Ray, Kelly Clarkson, and Nicole Byer had a baby, you'd have Deanna "Bomb Chica"! Her talents on stage, screen, and in the kitchen have been merged into one delicious treat for her audience! Her parents, Nicola and Mary, raised her in an Italian restaurant north of Boston. In spite of the fact that she has no formal culinary training, she often refers to herself as a graduate of the "Culinary School of Hard Nicks". In the family restaurant and at home, she learned authentic Italian cuisine.

When Deanna was 15, cooking took a back seat to her passion for music. Berklee College of Music awarded her a full tuition scholarship. She left the family business after graduation to pursue a career in entertainment. Deanna may be familiar to you from her appearances in national advertisements for "Jardiance", "Pepsi", or "Big Lots". Additionally, she achieved the status of quarter semifinalist on Season 8 of America's Got Talent, and has composed and performed over 200 songs for Radio, TV, and
Film. Her vocal talents have been featured in national commercials and alongside some of the most prominent figures in the music industry, including Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, and Nick Jonas, among others.

Deanna auditioned for MasterChef Season 10, and was selected as one of the Top 20 contestants by Judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Aarón Sánchez. It was following her participation in the show that her fervor for cooking was reignited.

Deanna’s cooking show “Go For Ya Self” on Tik Tok has garnered close to 300K followers in a short amount of time and a lot of attention from huge food brands, like General Mills, and she is the official Chef of Dreo’s Chefmaker Combi. Deanna is booked nationally for Chef demos, sharing kitchens and stages with culinary giants like Alex Guarnaschelli, Andrew Zimmern, Rocco DiSpirito, Jet Tila, Robert Irvine and Maneet Chauhan.

Deanna has appeared on Food Network’s “Battle of The Decades”, was a Judge & Chef on 5 episodes of SLING’s show Hot Mess Express, in an ad for Facebook/Oculus, as well as for Imperfect Foods. Deanna is constantly working on partnerships with a multitude of culinary brands and developing her own tv projects. Deanna is an entertaining dynamo - Whether on a stage or on a plate, Deanna oozes BIG FLAVOR!

Shaun O'Neale Author, My American Table

Shaun O'Neale

Author, My American Table

Celebrity Chef SHAUN O’NEALE is recognized around the world as the Season 7 Champion of MasterChef on FOX. Not only an award winning chef, Shaun’s skills as a culinary host have landed him appearances on Seasons 8, 9 and 10 of MasterChef and the MasterChef Celebrity Showdown on FOX, Best in Food on Travel Channel as well as performing cooking demos and acting as a celebrity guest judge on multiple episodes of Home & Family on Hallmark Channel. And because of his partnership with Morningstar Farms, Shaun has appeared in television commercials in which he demonstrated recipes he created for the brand.

Shaun wasn’t always a chef…for the twenty years prior to winning the title of America’s Best Home Cook, Shaun earned his living as a DJ on the Las Vegas strip. Beginning his DJ career in Tampa, FL, Shaun packed up and moved to Sin City to capitalize on his success as a DJ in 2008. His crowning moment culminating on New Year’s Eve in 2010 when Shaun became the first DJ to perform on Las Vegas Boulevard in front of over 100,000 people.  

In May 2017, Shaun O’Neale’s debut cookbook My Modern American Table was released worldwide. Featuring recipes for beginners and experienced chefs alike, the cookbook features everything from making fresh pasta to recreating Shaun’s title winning venison dish. In the years since his cookbook was released, Shaun has traveled the world promoting and performing at various food festivals, expos and restaurants. In September 2017, Shaun was the opening celebrity chef at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and has since worked with Disney on several other culinary events. In October 2017, Shaun joined the ranks of other celebrity chefs as he became a member of Macy’s Culinary Council in which he has traveled the country performing sold-out cooking demos in Macy’s stores. For the past several years, Shaun has also worked with MasterChef on several projects including headlining two week-long culinary adventures on Holland America Line, being a mentor for kids at Camp MasterChef and performing online cooking classes for Craftsy.

Art Sutley, Global Hospitality & Cocktail Expert at The Resident Boulevardier, Savage & Cooke Distillery

Art Sutley,

Global Hospitality & Cocktail Expert at The Resident Boulevardier, Savage & Cooke Distillery

Art Sutley, the hospitality expert known as The Resident Boulevardier, has been in the restaurant/bar space for over 20 years. He was one of the industry experts behind Bar Business Magazine for 13 of them. As an educator in the industry, he speaks at many of the top restaurant and cocktail tradeshows globally.  In addition to this he is traveling both locally and internationally to tour top distilleries keeping his pulse on leading cocktail and spirit trends. This has led to Art being featured as a hospitality expert multiple times in many of the top global media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Market Watch,  Forbes, Forbes Radio, 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. Most recently Art has joined the team at Savage & Cooke Distillery owned by famed winemaker David Phinney.

Phil Wills, Owner/Partner, The Spirits in Motion

Phil Wills,

Owner/Partner, The Spirits in Motion

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.

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

Mia Mastroianni,

Consultant as seen on Bar Rescue, Celebrity Mixologist

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.


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