Robert Nieto

Robert Nieto

Jackson Family Wines

A native from Texas, Robert received his cooking and baking certificate from Del Mar community college. His first job was at the Corpus Christi Country Club as a line cook but always had a thing for sweets. It was here where the Pastry Chef let him work with him side by side to learn the fundamentals of pastries and baking. Robert then headed west to Las Vegas to work in five star hotels such as Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas, and the Venetian. Robert finally got his break by landing a job by world-renowned Chef Thomas Keller as the Pastry Sous Chef at Bouchon Bistro. He then had the opportunity to move to Napa Valley as the Pastry Chef of Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Robert then moved to Sonoma County to work at a One-Michelin Restaurant, Madrona Manor run by Executive Chef Jesse Mallgren. It was here where he explored Molecular Gastronomy that could add texture to his desserts. Robert joins the Jackson Family Winery as the Pastry Chef. He is always on the lookout for new innovations that could tie in with the wines.

Abderrahmane Neggaz

Abderrahmane Neggaz

Chocotenango

Aberrahmane Neggaz, a native of Algiers, Algeria, grew up surrounded by the smells and flavors of his mother’s kitchen. He has been a professional chef since 1994. Igniting his love of cooking, he started his career in the bread and sweets department of Cranks, in London, England. He went on to study Pastry Arts at Newbury College in Newton, MA and additionally received a professional chef’s degree from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Continuing his love of learning, he studied sugarwork under Chef Notter. Abderrahmane worked as an Assistant Pastry Chef at Upstairs at the Pudding and led the savory team at the Rialto, both in the Boston area. Moving to Guatemala to accommodate his wife’s new job, he opened a small cooking school before opening his own chocolate business, Chocotenango (meaning the place of chocolate) where he created over 100 original recipes and quickly become the go to place for chocolate in the region. Abderrahmane’s versatility is perfectly suited to the creative pursuit of chocolate, in which he can balance both sweet and savory. In 2008, he was awarded first place at the 13th International Gastronomy Festival in Guatemala in the chocolate category. Now based in Washington DC, Chocotenango reopened in 2013 after Neggaz spent a few years working at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. Neggaz derives his inspiration from the unique ingredients that make up local cuisines from around the globe. Truly a global citizen, Abderrahmane speaks four languages, has lived on four continents and has traveled extensively. He often says, “I don’t find ingredients, they find me.”

Kevin Lindee

Kevin Lindee

Ganache: Truffles For Every Occasion

Chef Kevin Lindee is the owner and chocolatier of local Minnesota company, Ganache: Desserts and Confections. After rejecting two music scholarships to pursue a BS in Culinary Management and an AA in Baking and Pastry, Kevin’s passion for culinary arts flourished as he began creating specialty confections and unique desserts. He creates distinctive flavor profiles and contemporary combinations while infusing modern techniques in every tantalizing treat. By introducing herbs, spices, exotic fruits, and savory applications, Kevin creates seasonal and refreshing concepts that are comforting and delicious.

Kevin creates exceptional desserts by expanding as a boutique dessert caterer focusing on truffles, confections, cupcakes, wedding cakes, dessert stations, and international desserts for that ‘one-of-a-kind’ dessert experience. With his formal training, he experiments with new flavors and unique compositions to make each tasting experience memorable.

Justin Fry

Justin Fry

Norman Love Confections

Justin Fry was born in Wichita, Kansas and moved to his mother’s native country in the Philippines when he was 3 years old while his father served in the military. Ultimately, the family settled in Rio Rancho, New Mexico where he attended high school with studies in music.

Upon graduating from high school, Fry attended New Mexico State University as a music performance major. During his free time, he made cakes for friends and family and when asked to bake a wedding cake for a friend, he discovered a true interest in pastry. Researching videos on techniques, he became fascinated with artistry in chocolate which helped solidify his career path.

While researching pastry schools and saving money for culinary school, Fry moved to Orlando and worked for Walt Disney World for four years in merchandise and transportation. He left the Sunshine State to move to Denver, Colorado to attend Johnson and Wales University where he received an Associate of Arts in pastry arts in 2010.
Upon completing an internship, Fry accepted a position at The Willard hotel, in Washington, D.C., as a pastry cook in charge of dessert service for Café du Parc with menu conceptualized by three-star Parisian chef, France Antoine Westermann.

In 2012, Fry accepted a job with Norman Love Confections in Fort Myers, Florida, as a chocolatier to hone in his chocolate skills and continue his culinary education. Currently, he is responsible for novelties and novelty production as well as overseeing ganache production.

In 2013, he assisted a Norman Love Confections’ chef chocolatier in the Paris Gourmet National Pastry Chef of the Year competition and came in third place. In 2013 September, Fryplaced second overall with a gold medal at the Florida Pastry Challenge Showpiece Competition in Orlando.

Fry travels to see as many competitions as possible to prepare for his future goal ofcompeting nationally. He is very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the professionals at Norman Love Confections as well as the many world renowned chefs who visit Chef Love. Hecontinues his education by taking classes to further develop his showpiece and pastry skills while primarily working in chocolate.