ChefConnect: Chicago Host Chapter & Conference Chef

Meet the Host Chapter

Chefs & Culinary Professionals of Chicagoland will host ChefConnect: Chicago. Learn more about the chapter and how you can get involved.

John Reed

John Reed, CEC, CCA

Owner, Customized Culinary Solutions

John Reed is a professional chef with over 29 years of experience. He is presently the owner of Customized Culinary Solutions, a culinary consulting firm located in Skokie, IL that works with restaurant, catering and foodservice companies to provide the highest quality food possible. His contributions include chef mentoring, training, menu and recipe development, product sales and transition management for companies introducing culinary and production software programs.

An active member of the ACF Windy City Professional Culinarians, John has earned certifications as a Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator and Approved Certification Evaluator. He has recently received the ACF National Chef Professionalism Award 2010. He has competed many times in culinary competitions around the country and was just selected to an ACF Team USA Regional Culinary Team which will compete in the Culinary Olympics in 2012. He was the WCPC Chef of the Year for 2007 and Member of the Year 2010. He is also a member of the Research Chefs Association, Foodservice Consultants Society International and NACE. He also participates in Industry Advisory Boards and Focus Groups.

His work experience has taken him around the country from Massachusetts, Florida and Chicago. He has worked internationally in Switzerland and England. He has worked in premier hotel companies such as The Four Seasons and Swissôtel, multi-unit and privately owned restaurants and most recently Food For Thought in Lincolnwood Illinois where he spent over 9 years as both executive chef of catering and divisional executive chef of the foodservice management division.

John is also an active culinary educator with 5 years experience at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, FL. and presently he is an adjunct faculty member in the hospitality department at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL. He also holds a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University and a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

John has spent time with the Navy’s Adopt-a-Ship Program supporting the culinary divisions on board both USS Stethem (DDG-63) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) off the coast of Japan while both ships were in active forward deployment.

He is a family man with 2 young chefs in the making at home his wife Rosemary is also a trained chef. His passions include Charcuterie, Gardening, Golfing and Collecting Cookbooks.


Mario Garcia

Meet the ChefConnect: Chicago Chef

Mario Garcia

Executive Chef, Hilton Chicago

Chef Mario’s inspiring culinary career path with the Hilton Chicago started on May 13, 1996, where he served as a Food Runner/Pot Washer. A short time later he was promoted to a cook. In August of 2001, he was promoted to Junior Sous Chef and then to Senior Restaurant Chef in one of the Hilton’s Restaurants. In May of 2005, Chef Mario was promoted to Executive Sous Chef, the position he held when Instituto was first introduced to him through our 30th Anniversary Gala in 2008. As of October 2010, Chef Mario was promoted to his current position, Executive Chef at one of Hilton Worldwide’s flagship hotels.

Chef Mario is from Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico, where he grew up on a farm and first developed his love for food. Mario’s passion for the industry, his clients, and the hotel staff sets him apart and has contributed greatly to his success.

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