Meet our 2022 Ultimate Tailgate Chefs!

August 23, 2022 Updated: January 23, 2024

After two long years of pandemic-foiled plans to party in person, we’re bringing back our signature Ultimate Tailgate Party, presented by Bank of America and Roche Bros., on Sunday, October 16 at Garage B at The Charles River Speedway. This signature tasting event will be emceed by comedian and storyteller, Bethany Van Delft, and feature a lineup of some of the area’s top chefs. Below, we’re introducing you to them!

Tickets to this year’s event have sold out. If you hadn’t gotten around to purchasing your ticket, sign up for our waitlist. We suspect a handful of additional tickets will become available in early October. If they do, we’ll notify those on our waitlist on a first come/first serve basis.

Gerly Adrien and David LindseyTipping Cow Ice Cream
General Admission

Founded in Medford, Massachusetts in 2013, Gerly Adrien and David Lindsey acquired the business four years ago. David worked in fine dining and comes from a family of chefs and, together, with a love of ice cream and bringing communities together, the pair continue to grow the brand from their imaginations and passion for food. They enjoy sharing traditional flavors and an array of new creations with other ice cream lovers who appreciate fun, creative, and decadent tastes.

Karen Akunowicz – Fox & the Knife, Bar Volpe
General Admission

James Beard Foundation Award winner (Best Chef: Northeast) and Top Chef judge and contestant, Karen Akunowicz, brings her Italian cooking expertise to Tailgate this year. In 2019, Karen opened Fox & the Knife, dubbed an “instant classic” by Food & Wine Magazine, inspired by her time living and cooking in Modena, Italy. In 2020, she created a fresh pasta retail business called Fox Pasta Company that now ships sauces and handmade pasta nationwide and is available in specialty shops in Boston and New York. Her second spot, “Bar Volpe,” opened in 2021, is a restaurant and pastificio (pasta shop) focused on wood-fired Southern Italian cuisine. Bar Volpe continues the conversation about Italian cuisine and culture that Karen started at Fox & the Knife. 

Stay tuned for her second cookbook, “Crave: Bold Recipes That Make You Want Seconds,” which will be published by Norton in the fall of 2023.

Jamie Bissonnette* – Faccia Brutta, Bar Pallino, Little Donkey, Toro, Coppa
General Admission

Jamie Bissonnette is the James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef and co-founder of JK Food Group, which is behind some of Boston’s most acclaimed restaurants, including Coppa, Toro, and Little Donkey. One of the most notable chefs in the country, Jamie has received multiple accolades for his inventive approach to seasonal cooking, including James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Northeast, Food & Wine’s “People’s Choice Best New Chef,” Improper Bostonian’s “Rising Star Chef,” and StarChefs’ “Rising Star Chef,” among others.

This year, Jamie and his business partner, Ken Oringer, opened Faccia Brutta, which serves coastal Italian cuisine using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Jamie and Ken are also partnering with JK Food Group’s Beverage Director, Jodie Battles, to open the natural wine bar, Bar Pallino, located below Faccia Brutta. In addition to his restaurants, Jamie is the author of the 2014 cookbook, The New Charcuterie Cookbook: Exceptional Cured Meats to Make and Serve at Home, featuring a foreword by Andrew Zimmern. 

Daniel Bojorquez* – La Brasa, Fat Hen
General Admission

Daniel is a native of Hermosillo, Sonora, in Mexico, and went south to attend culinary school in Puebla. After graduating, he spent over a dozen years working with Frank McClelland at L’Espalier and Sel de la Terre in Boston before beginning his own venture. In 2014, Daniel opened Somerville’s La Brasa, aptly named after the Spanish term for the fiery embers that remain after grilling, as their food, like the delicious branzino, is cooked over a wood fire flame. Later, Daniel opened his second Somerville eatery, Fat Hen, a small 30-seat restaurant in Somerville that focuses on modern Italian tasting menus.

Joanne Chang* – Myers + Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe
General Admission

An honors graduate of Harvard College with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, Joanne left a career as a management consultant to enter the world of professional cooking. After spending several years gaining experience in some of Boston and New York City’s best restaurants, Joanne opened her first, Flour Bakery + Café, in 2000, which has since grown to nine locations across Boston and Cambridge. She owns and operates the company with her husband and business partner, Christopher Myers, in addition to Myers + Chang, Flour’s sister restaurant that earned four stars in the Boston Globe. 

In 2016, Joanne was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Baker. Flour has been included in Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Inc. Magazine, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, O Magazine, and Boston Magazine, and has received numerous Best of Boston awards. Joanne has authored five cookbooks, writes for Fine Cooking magazine, teaches classes, and advises pastry cooks within the bakery, at area cooking schools, and via Masterclass. 

Alyssa DiPasquale – Koji Club
VIP + General Admission

Fueled by over 15 years in hospitality, Alyssa is the proud owner of The Koji Club, a community of sake enthusiasts who hold a safe space to celebrate, learn about, and drink good sake. It’s Boston’s first sake bar, too. The club aims to reframe Japanese sake from an esoteric, hangover-inducing sushi companion (insert sake bomb here) to an approachable everyday beverage choice through nontraditional partnerships and unique learning experiences.

In this role, Alyssa has been recognized by top industry media like Wine Enthusiast in their annual “40 Under 40” list and Imbibe magazine’s “Imbibe 75.” Locally, Boston Magazine named her Best Beverage Director in Boston for 2022. 

Will Gilson – Puritan & Co., Café Beatrice, The Lexington, Geppetto
General Admission

Will Gilson began his career at age 15 when he apprenticed with Charles Draghi at Marcuccio’s in the North End. Later, he completed his formal culinary arts training at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and had stages at Oleana, Silks at the Stonehedge Inn, The Lanesborough, and the Garden at the Cellar. In 2011, Will became a leader at the forefront of Boston’s pop-up restaurant movement introducing a series of successful ventures, including Eat @ Adiren’s on Cape Cod.

However, it was at the Herb Lyceum, his family’s farm in Groton, where farm-to-table cooking became second nature for the burgeoning chef. Will’s time at the Herb Lyceum has molded the direction of Puritan & Co., where guests will find touches of his familial hospitality and their passion for herbs and farmer’s market fare. Today, Will is also the chef and co-owner of The Lexington, Café Beatrice, and Geppetto in Cambridge Crossing. 

Nia Grace – Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, The Underground Café + Lounge
General Admission

With 20 years of hospitality experience, Nia Grace is the award-winning owner and operator of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen. The restaurant is known for its soulful flavors, signature cocktails, personal connections, and live entertainment – all the things Nia loves most. 

Beyond restaurant hospitality, Nia is committed to the need in all of us to belong. Before purchasing Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, Nia embraced a decade-long career in the nonprofit sector. Over the years, Nia has remained focused and involved in the community she loves. She has served on boards for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and the Boston Cultural Council. She currently serves on boards for Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Boston Center for Youth and Families, and the Roxbury YMCA. Nia was named one of Boston Business Journal’s “40 under 40” in 2020, Boston Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Bostonians” in 2021 and 2022, and is the recipient of the prestigious Pinnacle Award, sponsored by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, recognizing her work as an Emerging Executive Leader in 2021.

Colin Lynch* – Bar Mezzana, Shore Leave, No Relation, Black Lamb
General Admission

A lifelong New Englander, Colin grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Studies at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) before settling in Boston. During his time at the CIA, he completed an internship at Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant, No. 9 Park, where he returned following graduation, continuing to work with Barbara Lynch for many years. Advancing to positions like Chef de Cuisine and later Executive Chef, Colin played a key role in expanding the company through new locations, including Menton. His efforts earned Menton Boston’s first Relais & Chateaux designation, a nomination by the James Beard Foundation for “Best New Restaurant” in 2011, and The Boston Globe’s first four-star review from food editor, Devra First.

In June 2016, Colin opened his own restaurant with his wife, Heather Lynch, and former Barbara Lynch Gruppo colleague, Jefferson Macklin. Bar Mezzana, located in Boston’s South End, has received rave reviews from local press and guests who praise the inspired crudo, handmade pastas, and warm hospitality. In 2018, Colin and his team opened nearby Shore Leave, a subterranean neighborhood tiki bar and restaurant. Tucked away down a narrow hallway at the back of Shore Leave, they also opened No Relation, a nine-seat, secret sushi restaurant nestled within the tiki bar. In 2019, they added a fourth eatery to their South End family, Black Lamb.

Mehmet Ozargun – Cafe Mangal
General Admission

Mehmet Ozargun, professionally trained in classic and modern techniques by master chef John Vyhnanek, has been the Founder, Owner, and Executive Chef of Café Mangal since its opening in 2000. Over almost 23 years, Mehmet has consistently served a rich variety of authentic and contemporary dishes using the freshest and highest quality ingredients available.

Café Mangal’s Mediterranean menu is greatly influenced by Turkish cuisine. Turkey has a long and rich history from its Central Asian roots to its refinement under the Ottoman Empire and has influenced culinary tradition throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Mehmet reflects this rich culture through Café Mangal’s food, service, and decor. Mehmet’s and Café Mangal’s motto is “smile, serve, and share.” 

Alex Sáenz – Hemlock Grill, Bisq, Taqueria El Barrio
General Admission

Alex Sáenz was born in the U.S., but grew up in Lima, Peru, spending time in the kitchens of his grandmothers and aunts, who taught him the love and art of cooking. He spent his teenage years in Columbia, South Carolina, where new friends taught him to love southern food, while at home, his mom continued cooking Peruvian dishes. This mix set the stage for what Alex would later showcase in his kitchens. 

After working in several local restaurants, Alex’s love of cooking eventually moved him to Los Angeles, California, where he attended the California School of Culinary Arts. After graduating top of his class, Alex worked at Alex Restaurant in LA before relocating to the east coast. There, he worked at the Nine Zero Hotel and Spire Restaurant, Straight Wharf Restaurant, Ten Tables, Lineage, where he received his first 3-star review from the Boston Globe’s Devra First, and Puritan & Co. 

After several stints and much recognition, Alex settled into BISq, which he opened with his old friend, Servio Garcia, and began a new chapter of his life as a restauranteur. In 2019, they expanded with Taqueria El Barrio and BISq Meats & Sandwiches. Steering the restaurants through pandemic challenges, the Taqueria el Barrio began producing their flour tortillas for retail sale. They can be found in many local neighborhood grocery stores and markets.

Arlin Smith and Andrew Taylor – Eventide

Eventide Owner and General Manager, Arlin Smith, hails from Buffalo, New York, and holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Early in his career, his appreciation for all things hospitality drew him out of the kitchen. He has since led Big Tree’s front of house teams and spearheaded the melding of function and design in establishing each of Big Tree Hospitality’s restaurants. He has become something of an authority on hospitality, and has spoken on the subject in podcasts, on panels, and to many print journalists. Arlin leads by example in his commitment to instilling a spirit of generosity in the company’s staff by managing all of Big Tree Hospitality’s philanthropic efforts.

Big Tree Hospitality chef-owner, Andrew Taylor’s, appreciation for the history of New England’s food grew out of an affinity for fishing and foraging. He is a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef and father of four, who has become adept at culinary improvisation, crafting innovative cuisine out of the most seasonal ingredients Maine provides. When he isn’t stomping through the woods searching for matsutake or reviewing the company’s financials, Andrew can be found cooking alongside his team. He is constantly looking toward the future and leading the company in new and exciting directions.

Nadia Spellman – Dumpling Daughter
VIP + General Admission

Nadia grew up in a family where food and fine cuisine were an important part of life. In 2014, through her parents’ inspiration and being raised in the restaurant industry, she launched Dumpling Daughter in Weston. Today, she showcases her childhood favorites and family recipes, giving others an opportunity to try authentic Chinese homestyle fare in four locations. Dumpling Daughter frozen foods and Spicy Sweet Soy sauce are now in over 200 markets. Nadia is excited to launch her cookbook with her mother, celebrity chef, Sally Ling, this fall. 

Melissa Stefanini – Super Bien, Buenas

Bio coming soon.

Douglass Williams – MIDA, APIZZA
General Admission

Over time, Douglass Williams’ journey has brought him from Thailand and Paris to New York City and Boston, where he worked and staged at some of the best restaurants, including Radius, Coppa, Corton, and Akarme. While cooking at Coppa, Douglass would cycle down Mass Ave. where the South End meets Roxbury, and all he saw was opportunity – for change and the chance to create something meaningful. At the corner of Tremont Street and Mass. Ave., he created his first eatery, MIDA South End, a neighborhood restaurant inspired by the simplicity of classic Italian culinary traditions. During the pandemic, Douglass opened a second MIDA location in Newton and APIZZA in Boston’s Hub Hall.

Douglass’ accolades include Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine and a handful of recognitions from Boston Magazine, including Best of Boston: Best Chef General Experience. He was also a semi-finalist in 2022 for the James Beard Foundation Award’s Outstanding Chef, one of the highest honors in the culinary world.

*Indicates Lovin’ Spoonfuls Culinary Board member

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