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Meet Our Participating Chefs

We will be adding to these lists frequently as we get closer to the event, so be sure to check back on this page!

Our Chef Co-Chairs

Chef Kevin Rathbun, Kevin Rathbun Steak

Chef Kevin Rathbun’s passion for food and hospitality started in Kansas City, where he started as a dishwasher. Following culinary school, Rathbun went on to New Orleans, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta to work with celebrity chefs and restaurateurs including Bradley Ogden, Emeril Lagasse, Stephen Pyles, Ella Brennan and Pano Karatassos. In 1994, he was nominated for the James Beard Awards “Rising Star Chef” for his work at Baby Ruth. By 1996, he opened two different flagship restaurants with Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and served as the Corporate Executive Chef, overseeing several restaurants for the group. Rathbun then ventured out on his own in 2004 to open Rathbun’s. Krog Bar, Kevin Rathbun Steak and KR Steakbar followed. Rathbun has graciously chaired Party in the Kitchen for 10 years and contributed much more to Open Hand. 

Chef Peter Kaiser, Kaiser's Chophouse

Kaiser’s first real job in the kitchen was at the elite resort restaurant Alpine Rose in Gstaad Switzerland where he was a line cook. He took this experience to his next opportunity, the Michelin Guide restaurant Chez Max in Zurich. Kaiser spent two years at Chez Max, including traveling around the world with owner Max Kell, before settling in the United States. Between 1986 and 2016, Kaiser would travel to Atlanta and work at restaurants in the Buckhead Life group. He went on to become Executive Chef at two different restaurants in the Here to Serve Restaurant Group. In 2017, Kaiser opened Kaiser’s Chophouse in collaboration with Chef Kevin Rathbun. Since its opening, Kaiser has become a frequent supporter of Open Hand, chairing Party in the Kitchen for the second year in a row.



Patron Party Chefs

Chef Matthew Basford, Canoe

Chef Matthew Basford started his culinary journey at Pear Tree Cottage in Greenock, Australia, followed by Vintner’s Bar and Grill in Angaston. After completing his four year apprenticeship, Basford was officially a “Qualified Chef”, and travelled to the United States. In December 2002, Basford moved to New Orleans, LA and began working at Dominique’s at the Maison Dupuy Hotel. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Basford was relocated to Atlanta, GA. Within a week, Basford found himself in the Canoe kitchen. He started as line cook and worked his way up the ranks from sous chef to executive sous chef, and finally, chef de cuisine. In 2013, Basford was named executive chef of Canoe and continues the legacy of the city’s longstanding bastion of fine dining. 


Chef Raymond Hook, Capella Cheese

Raymond Hook is the cheesemonger to the stars of Atlanta. Hook has extensive experience in the Atlanta food scene, managing Star Provisions. Since managing Star Provisions, Hook moved to San Francisco to work for a national specialty food distributor. After working in San Francisco, he moved to New York to work on the business side of cheese. This wealth of new knowledge, combined with eager business partners, culminated in Capella Cheese, a cheese shop that Hook plans to make accessible to anyone with any interest in cheese. From working in his family’s restaurant at the cheese counter in Norman, Oklahoma, to owning and operating his own cheese shop, Raymond Hook has truly built a special relationship with cheese.




Main Event Chefs

Chefs Nicole Benza and Simone B. Essman, Atta Girl Bakery and Catering

Atta Girl Bakery and Catering is the culmination of years of learning, experience, dedication, and commitment. Women minority owned and operated, this business is a beautiful blend of different cultures from two ends of the globe coming together to create a unique, harmonious, and dynamic menu. Nicole Benza is a Peruvian native and Atlanta transplant who brings her unique style and flavor with signature traditional Peruvian desserts. Simone B Essman loves blending her Indian flavor profiles and techniques with her new-found love for classic Southern Cuisine, learnt from her mother-in-law, a true southern belle. Put these two ladies together and you have stunning, fun, unique and memorable desserts.   

Chef Arnaldo Castillo, Tio Lucho’s 

Arnaldo Castillo is an enigma; born in Peru, raised in the South, and with one foot planted firmly in both cultures. Inspired by his father, Luis, Castillo has been a part of the restaurant industry since the age of 16. Castillo has been recognized as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef in the Southeast. Having worked in a variety of roles along his culinary journey, he has learned the industry ropes as a server, dishwasher, cook, sous chef, and chef de cuisine in the kitchens of esteemed Atlanta restaurants including Minero, Pura Vida, Empire State South and Little Trouble, which he also helped open. Castillo set out on the venture to open Tio Lucho’s after the pandemic, taking developing a full Peruvian experience for Atlantans to enjoy. 

Chef Chris Hall, Local Three Kitchen & Bar 

Chris Hall’s story begins right around the corner from Local Three at the Pizza Hut on Collier Road, where he worked as a teenager. After leaving Atlanta for college in Philadelphia, Hall landed at Lec Bec Fin. Hall eventually headed home to Atlanta and found work at Canoe, working at the restaurant until he finally opened Local Three in 2010 with the help of Ryan Turner and Todd Musman. His main role now is as partner in charge of day-to-day operations of Unsukay Partners restaurants, Local Three, Roshambo, Muss & Turner’s and MTH Pizza.  



Chef Ian Winslade, Mission + Market 

Ian Winslade’s career started at New York’s La Bernardin, progressing from the bakery to Sous Chef under Eric Ripert. Winslade's first 15 years focused on French cuisine, while his California period ignited a passion for multicultural dishes and fresh, local produce. Over 20 years in Atlanta, Winslade has shaped its dining scene through roles in top spots like Bluepointe, Spice Market, Market by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and ending as the executive chef of Murphy's and Paces & Vine. Winslade now oversees kitchen operations at Mission + Market, along with Tre Vele and Zakia.