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Chef Avery Ruzicka
Avery Ruzicka discovered her love of bread in her family’s kitchen baking parker house rolls and poppy seed prune loaves. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she moved to New York City to attend the French Culinary Institute. There her love for bread became a passion and the beginning of a career. She completed both the Culinary Degree and the Bread Program and then staged at Per Se under Master Baker Ben Hershberger. Moving to California to work at Manresa Restaurant, she became the baker there in 2012 and founded the Manresa Bread Project in 2013; it would become Manresa Bread the following year. Manresa Bread has two locations now in Los Gatos and Los Altos, CA, serves its bread and pastries at regional farmers markets, and is available for nationwide shipping
Chef Sammy Reyes
Chef Sammy was born in a small town in Veracruz, Mexico and came to the United States at the age of 14. After arriving he immediately started working as a dishwasher in Palo Alto, CA while also attending Woodside High school. It was there that he enrolled in his first cooking class. He was fascinated with everything about cooking and took every opportunity to learn and progress. By his junior year in high school, he had already learned to work every station in the back of the house, from dishwasher all the way to the grill and sautéing. After graduating high school, he quickly started college and it is there, when he started to transition to the front of the house. He started where everyone does, by bussing tables and then graduating to server. Once he turned 21 years old he also started to
bartend and fell in love with making cocktails and learning about wine. His experience and passion for restaurants grew exponentially as he continued to learn about food. Chef Sammy started working for Scott's Seafood 12 years ago as a server and bartender. Through years of learning and growing, he became a shift manager and then eventually the bar manager. He loves having the ability to create cocktails but he always had a yearning to return back to the kitchen, and a few years ago, he got that opportunity. Soon thereafter he took over the position as the Food & Beverage Director and recently became the Executive Sous Chef. As Chef Sammy puts it, “My true passion comes in pairing great food with fantastic wines and cocktails.”
Chef Evers Rivera
As the leading Chef of Flights restaurant, Chef Evers is forever busy ensuring everything runs smoothly in all the various locations of Flights Restaurant in the Bay area.
He grew up in Michoacán, Mexico and got immersed into cooking since age thirteen. With tremendous hard work and passion for cooking combined, his impressive career of 25 years took him to a number of restaurants. Black Angus, Bellino’s, Bella Mia, Original Joes, Ladera Grill were part of his journey. His credentials boast 17 restaurants including Cheesecake factory and Elephant Bar that he has guided the openings of. He has worked in catering but believes his genuine passion lies in white-cloth fine dining. He enjoys cooking Mexican food at home for his wife and loves to grow his own garden and cook something off the fresh produce that he picks with his own two hands.
He says " If your life is privileged now does not mean it will remain like that forever. Life can turn anytime and so it is
important to understand that and help someone in need now". To participate in the Chefs of Compassion is his way of giving back to the community. He strongly believes in Living By Example. He delights in always being responsible for what he undertakes and giving in 100% to his profession. He works hard at being a role model to everyone around him and tries to lead by example. His loves teaching his experience and skill. His motto, "Do Right, Teach Right!"
Chef Stephen Simmons
His love for food and cooking started with his grandmother and grew through education at the City College of San Francisco and an internship with Executive Chef Jeremiah Tower and Chef Marc Franz. He quickly rose as a Bay Area culinary celebrity working at The Stanford Court Hotel; and as Executive Sous Chef at Campton Place under Bradley Ogden; Executive Chef at Casa Madrona Hotel and Restaurant, Sausalito; and Opening Chef and Chef de Cuisine for One Market Restaurant, San Francisco. He was nationally recognized as Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation. Stephen partnered with Bradley Ogden as Opening Chef de Cuisine at the nationally recognized Lark Creek Inn. Chef Simmons next ventured on his own;
He purchased and revitalized a local Marin property creating Bubba’s Diner a popular San Anselmo comfort food restaurant. He worked as manager of food operations at Skywalker Ranch for the past 15 years.
Recently he joined the Chandi hospitality group in Santa Rosa as their director of operations. He presently lives in Guerneville, California.