StarChefs Announces Rust Belt Rising Stars




Experience Dishes from the Best Young Chefs from Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland at a Tasting Gala


November 10, 2016 – StarChefs, the restaurant industry magazine, announces its 2016 Rust Belt Rising Stars Awards, honoring up-and-coming chefs and hospitality professionals, who represent the vanguard of the contemporary American dining scene. The StarChefs team visited 130 chefs, pastry chefs, bartenders, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and artisans in Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh—all of whom are part of an exciting wave of young regional talent.


“So many Rust Belt chefs left the region to train and work in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, but at the end of the day, they came back because they believed in the potential of their hometowns,” said Will Blunt, Managing Editor of StarChefs.


The winners will be honored at the StarChefs Rising Stars Gala on Wednesday, December 7 at The Westin Cleveland Downtown, beginning with an awards ceremony at 6:30pm and followed by a tasting gala from 7:15pm to 9:30pm. For one night only, guests will experience 21 of the region’s most exciting restaurants and bars with beverage pairings and cocktails by the winning sommeliers and bartenders.


“The Rust Belt's industrial footprint left no clearly defined regional cuisine, making way for a diverse, vibrant, and idiosyncratic restaurant scene—one that’s open to a whole sway of immigrant influences,” said Caroline Hatchett, StarChefs Editor. “We ate vegan Eastern European, Alpine Italian, and Vietnamese food, along with fish and grits, fried bologna and waffles, and chicken-liver spiked oatmeal. It’s a region marked by individualism and unencumbered by trends.”


General admission to the gala is $85 per person. VIP tickets are $125 and includes a private reception that’s brimming with cava and caviar, beginning at 5:45pm. Tickets can be purchased at


2016 StarChefs Rust Belt Rising Stars Award Winners


Jamilka Borges | Spoon | Pittsburgh | @jamilkabm

Featured dish: Lamb Pickle, Crème Fraîche, Blood Orange Vinegar, Sherry Preserves, Pea Tendrils, Amaranth, and Mint

Brad Greenhill | Katoi | Detroit | @bgreenhi

Featured dish: Wok-charred Brassicas, Miso, Tahini, Pickled Chiles, Crispy Rice, and Mint

Nick Janutol | Forest Grill | Detroit | @chefjamesrigato

Featured dish: Black Rice, Tomato, Cobia, and Toasted Nori

David Kocab | Trentina | Cleveland | @DaKocab

Featured dish: Mugolio-glazed Carrots and Turnips, Genmai, and Sugar-packed Spruce Tips

Kate Lasky & Tomasz Skowronski | Apteka | Pittsburgh | @aptekapgh

Featured dish: Sauerkraut-Mushroom Pierogi, Pickled Beets, and Mustard-Yogurt Sauce

James Rigato | Mabel Gray | Detroit | @chefjamesrigato

Featured dish: Chicken and Duck Wings, Habanero Jam, Orange, Shishito Peppers, and Pickled Mustard Seeds

Brett Sawyer | Plum Cafe & Kitchen | Cleveland | @chefsawyer

Featured dish: Yellow Corn Grit Croquettes, Smoked Shrimp Rillettes, Fermented Peanuts, and Micro Okra

John Vermiglio | Grey Ghost | Detroit | @greyghostdetroit

Featured dish: General Tso's Chicken Sausage, Sesame, and Scallion


Community Presented by Compass Group

Ben Hall | Russell Street Deli | Detroit | @russellstdeli

Featured dish: Smoked Cherokee Purple Tomato Bisque


Concept Presented by Kikkoman

Chad Townsend | Millie's Homemade Ice Cream | Pittsburgh | @chad687

Featured dish: Trio of Ice Creams


Pastry Chef Presented by KitchenAid Commercial

Lisa Ludwinski | Sister Pie | Detroit | @lisalouiselud

Featured dish: Assortment of Cookies featuring Chocolate Buckwheat



Neil Blazin | Driftwood Oven | Pittsburgh | @driftwoodoven

Featured dish: Wood-fired Artisan Bread

Reed Jaskula | Platform Beer Co. | Cleveland | @platformbeerco

Featured beer: Black Eagle Gratzer

Adam Lambert | Ohio City Provisions | Cleveland | @cheflambert

Featured dish: Polish Boy: Red Wattle and Mangalitsa Sausage, Barbecue Sauce, French Fries, and Coleslaw



Dominic Fiore | Bar Marco | Pittsburgh | @dommsomm

Shaun Page | Wolfgang Puck Grille | Detroit | @beverageguru1

Pairings with winners’ dishes



Will Hollingsworth | Spotted Owl | Cleveland | @spottedowlbar

Featured drink: And Fire Green As Grass: Bombay Sapphire East Gin, Green Chartreuse, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, and Smith & Cross Rum

Joe Robinson | Standby | Detroit | @standbydetroit

Featured drink: Angelic Conversation: Campari, Aperol, Ransom Dry Vermouth, Tangerine Sherbet, Lemon, and Egg White



Dave Kwiatkowski | Detroit Optimist Society | Detroit

Featured drink: Cocktail featuring Angostura Rum

Jonathon Sawyer | Team Sawyer | Cleveland | @chefsawyer

Featured dish: Signature Plate from Greenhouse Tavern


Host Chef

Vishwatej Nath | Urban Farmer at the Westin Cleveland Downtown | Cleveland | @urbanfarmercle

Featured dish: Scotch Egg: Bison, Quail Egg, Winter Squash Agrodolce, Goat Milk Yogurt, and Micro Herbs


Supporters of 2016 StarChefs Rust Belt Rising Stars Awards

Steelite International | Reinhart Foodservice | Compass Group | Vitamix | KitchenAid Commercial | Kikkoman | Wines from Spain | Royal Basmati Rice | Ibérico Ham From Spain | House of Angostura | Fresh Origins | Valrhona | Breville/PolyScience | Meiko Warewashers | Electrolux Professional | Northern Divine Caviar | Verterra | Westin Cleveland Downtown



StarChefs has served the restaurant industry since 1995; its mission is to catalyze culinary professionals’ success and give them the tools they need to overcome their specific challenges. The magazine’s original culinary content is driven by in-person tastings and interviews across the world. In addition to featuring top chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers, and bartenders, StarChefs’ Job Finder is the leading job board connecting culinary and hospitality professionals to careers in the foodservice industry. Connect with StarChefs on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Danielle Powell | 908.616.7056 |