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  • Cork & Fork: A Celebration of Female Culinary Talent 1

Cork & Fork: A Celebration of Female Culinary Talent

Cork & Fork: A Celebration of Female Culinary Talent

September 29 – October 1, 2023

Six guest chefs and our own Master Sommelier, Elizabeth Schweitzer, come together for a weekend of fine wine & dining, including culinary events and a six-course tasting event, in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Main Dining Room 2Elizabeth Schweitzer – Master Sommelier, Grand Hotel

Schweitzer is the eighth woman in the world to achieve the Master Sommelier title, the highest professional qualification in the hospitality industry. This is her 13th season working at Grand Hotel. At Grand Hotel, Schweitzer oversees the Grand Award of Excellence wine list for Salle a Manger, the Main Dining Room, as well as Woods, Jockey Club, Gate House, and Winchester’s wine lists. With over 500 selections on the wine list, she is proud that the wine list offers wine for every taste, occasion, and budget. Schweitzer was previously voted Best Sommelier in California by the California Restaurant Writers Association. Schweitzer donates time to events and fund-raising with Kidsave and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

When asked, “What is your favorite wine?” Schweitzer says, “What time is it? Where am I? Who am I with? What are we eating?” Then, that is my favorite wine!”

Jen Hidinger-Kendrick – Founder, Giving Kitchen – Event Emcee

Jen, along with her late husband, RyanHidinger, is a founder of Giving Kitchen, a non-profit that helps food service workers in crisis. She advises on brand awareness and community involvement while providing a personal account in telling the story of GK to audiences near and far. As spokesperson for GK, Jen has received the Community Hero Award from the Atlanta Braves and Fox Sports South, and has been featured on the covers of Entrepreneur Magazine and Atlanta Magazine, was the recipient of the 2021Claes Nobel World Betterment Award and is participating in Leadership Atlanta’s Class of 2024.

As co-founder of the acclaimed Staplehouse Restaurant, Jen was a key member of the team that earned Bon Appétit magazine’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2016 and a nomination as Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. She joined the staff of GK full-time in 2019, and one of her proudest professional moments was sharing the stage with GK colleagues in receiving the James Beard Foundation’s 2019 Humanitarian of the Year award on behalf of Giving Kitchen and seeing GK recognized as a Brands That Matter by Fast Company in 2022.

Jen lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband John Wayne Kendrick, their son Blue, and dog Goonie. Her passions include design and travel, dogs, food and beverage, and the art of tidying. Her most cherished quote is: “Anything long-lasting or worthwhile takes time and complete surrender.” — RyanHidinger


Chef Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai – Minneapolis, MN

Christina Nguyen is the chef and co-owner of Hola Arepa and Hai Hairestaurants in Minneapolis, MN. Christina is a self-taught chef who startedHola Arepa as a food truck in 2011 with her husband Birk. A couple of years later, they found a permanent home for HolaArepa in South Minneapolis. They serve Venezuelan arepas, Latin American small plates, and tropical cocktails in a space reminiscent of breezy beachside Latin cafes.

Hai Hai, the lush plant-filled oasis has a focus on bright& bold Southeast Asian street food, and the menu pulls inspiration from dishes that Christina grew up eating during her Vietnamese upbringing, and from her travels all around Southeast Asia. Christina was a finalist for the James Beard Award’s Best Chef Midwest category in 2019 & 2020, and a semifinalist in 2018 & 2023.

Deborah VanTrece, Twisted Soul – Atlanta, GA

Chef Deborah VanTrece is one of the South’s most preeminent culinary personalities. In addition to being a James Beard Award-nominated chef and best-selling cookbook author, Chef VanTrece is a successful restauranteur and CEO and founder of the VanTrece Hospitality Group.

The VanTrece Hospitality Group’s portfolio of award-winning restaurants includes the modern, global soul food restaurant, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours, and Oreatha’s at The Point, a concept showcasing comfort food dishes made by mothers around the world. The VanTrece Hospitality Group also includes The Catering Company by VanTrece, which has curated special private and public events for high-profile celebrities, top brands, and special events including The Grammys.

Chef VanTrece has been featured on NBC’s TODAY, Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, NPR, Garden & Gun, and Conde Nast Traveler, among many others. She is also a winner of Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games and was featured in Behind the Dish, the first food documentary produced in virtual reality.

Amarys Herndon, Palm & Pine – New Orleans, LA

Amarys Koenig Herndon is chef and owner ofPalm&Pine, a vibrant New Orleans restaurant featuring the cuisines and culinary traditions of “the South and south of that” (Louisiana, the southern states, the Caribbean, Mexico, and CentralAmerica). In this role, Amarys works alongside her husband, Chef Jordan Herndon, to lead the kitchen and set the tone for the restaurant’s unique concept. Amarys and Jordan recently landed on the ‘22/’23 James Beard Semifinalist List for ‘Best Chef: South’.

Born in Houston, TX, and raised in New Braunfels, TX, Amarys’true passion for the culinary world began at an early agebaking homemade goods to raise money to attend summer camp. She later worked as a hostess and server in the restaurant her family-owned. Amarys moved to New Orleans at 19 to earn her Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts from Delgado Culinary School and officially entered the culinary world.

Jessica Scott, 50 Eggs Hospitality 

Corporate Executive Pastry Chef Jessica Scott of 50 Eggs Hospitality Group, creates a refined, approachable pastry program across 50 Eggs Hospitality Group restaurants, including Yardbird Table & Bar (Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Singapore, Dallas, DC, Denver, Chicago), CHICA (Miami, Las Vegas, Aspen), Spritz, and CAPRI. Scott embraces the bold, bright flavors of her San Diego upbringing and the comforting flavors of the American South to curate a menu that lightens up the indulgent Yardbird menu. Staying true to the 50 Eggs brand, she pushes boundaries with her interactive, over-the-top desserts that create a memorable experience for diners (CHICA’s Flaming Skulls as a notable example). She creates a unique dessert menu that changes with the seasons to suit each location and its distinct diners. Scott’s relentless focus on balancing flavor and eclectic presentation has earned her a reputation as a true innovator among her fellow pastry chefs.

Debbie Gold, LeTour – Evanston, IL

Chef Debbie Gold is a James Beard Foundation award-winner and four-time nominee with a background in French cuisine and over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. After reconnecting with Restaurateur Amy Morton in 2019 and becoming the Corporate Chef of AMDP, Morton and Gold recently embarked on their newest adventure, LeTour. ‘LeTour’ means “circle’/to turn” in French- an ode to the circular layout of the restaurant in downtown Evanston and the ‘full circle’ moments that brought Morton and Gold together for this new venture.

Gold turned to Kansas City to begin a stellar twenty-year run; named Executive Chef of The American Restaurant, where she won a James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Midwest Chef.” She later opened her own restaurant, 40 Sardines, which garnered Gold a coveted James Beard Foundation nomination for “Best New Midwest Restaurant.” She was also recognized by Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, battling against fellow award-winning chefs for two seasons – Season 2 (2010) and Season 4 (2012).

In 2017, Gold found her way back to Chicago as the Executive Chef of Tied House and in 2019 she reconnected with Amy Morton and joined her as AMDP’s Executive Chef. Gold oversaw the kitchen’s of Found kitchen and Social House, The Barn Steakhouse and Stolp Island Social. In November of 2022 she took on the role of Partner at LeTour an “unconventionally French” brasserie, where the modern French menu blends seamlessly.


Chef Amy Hurt, Purchasing Manager, Grand Hotel

Chef Amy is from southern Kentucky and has been a professional chef for over 16 years and currently works as a purchasing manager in the Grand Hotel culinary department.

How did you get involved in the culinary field?

I grew up on a self-sufficient rural family farm and have been passionate about food and cooking for as long as I can remember. I started working in the IT field after completing military service, but I was happiest and most comfortable while cooking and in the kitchen. Therefore, I quit my job, moved to New York City, and enrolled in culinary school.

Chef Karen Costello, Sous Chef, Grand Hotel

Chef Karen is from the Philippines and has been a professional chef for over 10 years. She currently works as a Sous Chef at Grand Hotel.

How did you get involved in the culinary field?

I began to love working in the kitchen when I started cooking for young professionals back in the Philippines in 2004-2006. I was taking a 2-yr course in Institutional Services and management where culinary was one of the major subjects I was taking.

The James Beard Foundation celebrates and supports the people behind America’s food culture, while pushing for new standards in the restaurant industry to create a future where all have the opportunity to thrive. Established over 30 years ago, the Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives and is committed to supporting a resilient and flourishing industry that honors its diverse communities. By amplifying new voices, celebrating those leading the way, and supporting those on the path to do so, the Foundation is working to create a more equitable and sustainable future — what we call Good Food for Good™. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the James Beard Foundation launched the Open for Good campaign to ensure that independent restaurants not only survive, but that the industry is able to rebuild stronger than before.

Giving Kitchen is a nonprofit that helps food service workers in crisis. GK provides stability through referrals to a network of low or no-cost community resources. Food service workers who have experienced an injury, illness, housing disaster, or death of a family member can also receive financial assistance to cover living expenses.

Follow on social media (@givingkitchen) and tell every food service worker you know that Giving Kitchen is here to help food service workers.”

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