Cook Masters Program: Meet The Class Of 2013

As we speak, the class of 2013 is beginning their first day of the COOK Masters Program–an intensive, hands-on class in breakdown and butchery being taught by Jon Cichon of Lacroix. They brought their knives. Most of them showed up in their whites. And the very first thing they get to face down? Taking the heads off of whole chickens brought in as their training materials for Day One.

We thought it might be nice, at this early moment in their education, to take a look at the 10 students making up this first Masters Program class. After all, if we here at Foobooz and the team at COOK all did our jobs well, some of these cooks will grow up into the chefs you’ll be reading about here in years to come. And now you’ll get to say that you knew all about them back before they were cool…

UPDATE: Now with 100% more Sandy Trinh!

The COOK Masters Program Class of 2013

Name: Christopher Ritter

Current Position: Line cook, Brauhaus Schmitz

Chris’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Thai Singha To Go

What is the exact moment you realized you wanted to be a chef?

“March 13th, 2010 at Mission Street Food. This meal–itself not necessarily spectacular–really opened my eyes to a new type of restaurant experience that emphasized ambition, creativity and fun without sacrificing technique or quality in the dishes. The food was intellectually engaging without being alienating. I realized if I could achieve something like that, I would be happy spending the rest of my life in a kitchen.”


Name: Kevin McDevitt

Current Position: Chef, Hop Angel Brauhaus

Kevin’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Pub & Kitchen

What is the one kitchen utensil you could not live without?

“I feel most would say chef knife (no shit). I look at my knife as a gimmee, like salt in a recipe. Up until 8 months ago, I would’ve said tongs. That’s before my co-worker and I got into a debate about the most ‘useful’ kitchen utensil during dinner service. I chose tongs, he chose spoon (he was classically trained). We did one service without tongs and one service without spoons. Long story short, he was the undisputed winner. My tasting/sauce spoon is king in my kitchen and I couldn’t work a day without it.”


Name: Brandon Zeller

Current Position: Senior, Drexel University, studying culinary arts

Brandon’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Zahav

What is always in your refrigerator?

“Being that I’m a broke college student… Cheese, eggs, bacon, milk and beer.”


Name: Joshua Houtz

Current Position: Senior, The Restaurant School At Walnut Hill College, Lead Cook, StoneRidge Retirement Living

Joshua’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Brauhaus Schmitz

Previous positions:

Chewy’s Food Truck, The Union League of Philadelphia, Marigold Kitchen, Top Chef: The Tour.


Name: Nana Wilmot

Current Position: Prep Cook, Wolfgang Puck Catering

Nana’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Sbraga

Guilty pleasure?

“Cold Stone’s “Love It”-sized birthday cake and sweet cream ice creams with Snickers, caramel, chocolate sauce and coconut flakes. Good lord.”


Name: Sandy Trinh

Current Position: Sous chef, Kraftwork

Sandy’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Nam Phuong

If you could prepare a meal for 3 people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you serve?

“Eric Ripert, Julia Child and Nikola Tesla. I would want to keep it casual and serve a piping-hot bowl of pho with tripe, tendon and the eye-round beef raw on the side. Nothing too fancy. I want to have a casual conversation with these people.”


Name: John Boswell

Current Position: Student, Drexel University

John’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Pub & Kitchen

3 words that describe how you are in the kitchen?

“Hard-working, young and inquisitive”


Name: Paolo Rivera

Current Position: Student, Culinary Institute of America

Paolo’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Village Whiskey

If you could work under any chef in the world, who would it be?

“The first chef who came to mind was Marco Pierre White. He is a mad genius and an idol for most cooks today. The opportunity to work under his command at Harvey’s would have been a life-changing experience. He demanded the best from every single cook  and mistakes meant a verbal lashing and possibly pots thrown your way. But at the end of the day, he was incredibly talented, passionate and would make you into a stronger cook deeply rooted in French technique.”


Name: Mike Hatgistavrou

Current Position: Student, Drexel, “Majored in film. It was a mistake.”

Mike’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: Barbuzzo

Guilty pleasure?

“I think microwaveable White Castle hamburgers are incredible”


Name: Derek Steel

Current Position: Unemployed

Derek’s Favorite Restaurant In Philly: The Royal Tavern

What is your favorite place to shop for food in Philly?

“The Hung Vuong market at 11th and Washington. A simple stroll through there makes you realize that there are many, many different ways to cook.”