Three Culinary Aficionados You Should Know

March 31st, 2010 by Staff – Comments (2)

Traditionally, the term ‘foodie’ has referred to renowned chefs, culinary masters and other notable gourmets but there is an entirely new sector of foodie culture that includes the up-and-comers of the culinary world. From sommeliers and pastry chefs to restaurateurs and agriculture phenoms, these individuals are some of the country’s most prominent experts of food and drink. Here are a few foodies you should know:

Stephen Hamilton: Food photographer extraordinaire Stephen Hamilton is truly gifted when it comes to capturing the essence of edibles. Working in his natural light-filled West Loop studio, Stephen is insistent on using only real food when snapping photos. His love food and interest in the culinary arts can also be seen in his blog “The Restaurant Project” in which he asses dishes from Chicago’s best restaurants by both taste and aesthetics. Hamilton’s photographic work has been featured in high-profile projects such as Art Smith’s Back to the Family cookbook, and throughout the chef’s residence on the hit Bravo television show Top Chef. Hamilton’s ‘foodie status’ was recently raised when he was asked to be a guest judge on the upcoming season of Top Chef Masters airing in April. For more information, visit

blueberry tart stephen hamilton

Bridget Albert: Known for straightforward recipes, bright flavors and innovative use of fresh ingredients, renowned mixologist Bridget Albert designs cocktails for the top restaurants, bars, hotels and lounges in the state of Illinois. Among her high profile projects include the recent design and execution of the cocktail program for the new Trump International Towers in Chicago. After studying under master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, Albert went on to become the Illinois chapter Chariman of the United States Bartenders Guild, a master mixologist at Southern Wine and Spirits of Illinois and Director of the Academy of Spirits and Fine Service. Bridget is author of the book Market Fresh Mixology, which was released in 2006. For more information, visit here.

rasp french

Sara Vivenzio: Former professional cheese monger and founder & Director of The Cheese School of San Francisco, Sara Vivenzio is considered a renowned expert on domestic and artesian cheeses. After working as the primary cheese buyer for San Francisco’s leading specialty cheese retailer, Cheese Plus, Vivenzio opened The Cheese School of San Francisco in 2006 with the mission of helping people maximize their enjoyment and appreciation of cheese through structured education and informal tasting events. The Cheese School of San Francisco is the nation’s only independent institution of its kind and offers curricula for students of all types ranging from regular food enthusiasts to food service and culinary professionals. Vivenzio has built a staff of experts in all things cheese including the science behind cheese and wine pairings, procurement and categorization and classification of cheeses from around the world. For more information, visit here.

Cheese School Sign

Pamela Fitzpatrick: She’s been called an “Old World Bread Goddess” but Pamela Fitzpatrick didn’t start her career in the food industry. After years in the world of corporate advertising, Pamela decided to try her hand at something else – bread making. Her first foray into the culinary world was a 5-year gig at La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles where she worked on perfecting her craft of bread making. It was a call from famed restaurateur Rich Melman that persuaded Fitzpatrick to move to Chicago to help Melman expand his Corner Bakery franchise. Fitzpatrick quickly made a name for herself and was one of the first people hired at Fox & Obel Food Market in 2000. For the past 10 years, Fitzpatrick has been in charge of the bakery at Fox & Obel in addition to creating specialty and gourmet breads for restaurants like Everst, Brasserie Jo and Jimmy Bannos’ The Purple Pig. For more information, visit here.


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2 responses so far ↓

  • Paula Walters May 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    The Chicago Sun-Times published some great articles on Stephen Hamilton this past week, as he made his appearance on Top Chef Masters. If you missed the paper, it can be viewed at,food-photos-burger-closeup-042810.article. An interesting behind the scenes look at his special talent to create & capture the delicious!

  • Ryan May 13, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Dear Chicago Food Blog,

    I was reading your blog post, Three Culinary Aficionados You Should Know. I seen some of Stephen Hamilton’s work within edibles and it is just amazing. He captures the beauty and essence of each dish perfectly to have it glisten and make it the main subject of each photograph. He even highlights the small details of the individual ingredients.

    I have some exciting news to share with you! On May 20th, the Celebrity Chef Tour makes its 3rd stop in Chicago. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy a spectacular meal and interact with some of America’s top culinary talents, all while benefiting the James Beard Foundation. The May 20th tour event features a fantastic group of Celebrity Chefs: Radhika Desai from Bravo TV’s ‘Top Chef ‘, Pastry Chef Alain Roby, and Marcus Samuelsson from Bravo TV’s ‘Top Chef Masters’. Also, Greg Carso will host the dinner at The Metropolitan Club in Chicago, where he is employed as Executive Chef.

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