2017 Competitor Bios
Eric Baker, Max’s Harvest
Reigning Garlic Chef Champion
Executive Chef Eric Baker of Max’s Harvest is known for his innovative dishes made with locally sourced products with a global influence.
Prior to joining Max’s Harvest, Eric Baker was the opening Executive Chef at the Buckhead Restaurant Group’s Lobster Bar Sea Grille in Ft. Lauderdale. Before that, Baker was the Executive Sous Chef at the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale and the hotel’s Steak 954, both Starr Restaurant Group establishments. He also held a sous chef position at Chops Lobster Bar in Boca Raton and a position at Café Boulud at the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach for four years under his mentor, Executive Chef Zach Bell.
Chef Baker has also served as Chef de Partie at Restaurant Market in Paris, a restaurant of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and served in the kitchen at the two Michelin star L’Espadon, Ritz Hotel Paris, and Louis XVI in Patchogue, New York. Baker graduated from Indiana University and attended culinary school at L’Ecole Escoffier in Paris.
Max’s Harvest, which was the first farm to fork concept to open in Palm Beach County, has received numerous accolades, including being listed in Zagat Miami and being named Best Restaurant in Palm Beach County in 2012 by New Times Broward/Palm Beach.
Executive Chef, Prime Catch
John Bonk began his culinary career in Cleveland Ohio focusing on Mediterranean cuisine. He then relocated to south Florida and attended Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach. John worked numerous positions on Palm Beach Island including Sous Chef at Dempsey’s of Palm Beach, Cucina Del Arte, and the Breakers. Then moved up to Head Chef Positions at Carmine’s Ocean Grill and Station House.
Since 2004 John has been the Executive Chef at Prime Catch Restaurant in Boynton Beach supervising full back-of-the-house operations, focusing on local seafood and seasonality. John is an avid hunter and fisherman with a true Knowledge of where food comes from. John and his Prime Catch team orchestrate numerous banquets, private functions, wine diners, and charity events.
Executive Chef, Suri Tapas Bar
Anthony Monte has been the Executive Chef at Suri Restaurant in Downtown Lake Worth for the past 2 years and was born in Flushing, Queens, New York in 1978.
He attended the New York Restaurant School in Manhattan, NY and trained with top chefs in Tuscany for nearly a year.
Anthony has worked in some of the most exquisite restaurants across the country, including New York, Las Vegas and currently in Florida for the last 6 years.
Executive Chef, Benny’s on the Beach
While in school working towards his double major in finance and information systems, Jeremy developed a passion for art, utilizing food as his outlet. It was spurred on by the increasingly popular Food Network and fueled by a part time job he took at the best Italian restaurant in town.
After six months in the financial world, Jeremy returned to his passion and entered culinary school part-time and accepted a full-time job at ZOE, a long time SOHO staple known for creative food with an Asian flare, won the MAYTAG ACCELLIS culinary competition in New York and was escorted to Napa Valley where he finished in the top 5 amongst 25 national competitors. Charlie Trotter, the celebrity Chef judge, was so impressed; he offered Jeremy a paid externship at his acclaimed restaurant, Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago.
Upon his return to NYC, Jeremy accepted a position at Restaurant Daniel and fast tracked his way through every position in the kitchen. Following his four-year progression, Daniel sent Jeremy to Europe for 1 year, where he worked in Spain (Arzak in San Sebastian), France (Triosgros in Roanne and Guy Savoy in Paris) and Italy.
Upon return to the States, Jeremy held the highly coveted position, Saucier, at Restaurant Daniel. One year later, Jeremy moved to Palm Beach to assist in the early stages of Daniel’s Café Boulud. It was here in South Florida; Jeremy launched myfreshchef.com, market-inspired meals delivered daily throughout Palm Beach County. Under Jeremy’s direction, a team of chefs prepared client-specific meals with fresh, local ingredients for an affordable price. It was at this time that Jeremy began working with local television stations in Palm Beach; ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates consistently feature his “fresh perspective” on food and cooking. He also appeared on A&E, Lifetime, HGTV and on the top rated Food Network show, CHOPPED. He was also awarded “Hot Chef” of the year by the National Restaurant Association in 2011 for his inspiring flavor combinations and adventurous use of ingredients.
Jeremy’s next challenge came when he accepted the position as the International Director of Culinary and Menu Development for Carlson Restaurants. He worked with International restaurant groups in over 30 countries developing menus and kitchen operations that could deliver high quality “American food.”
More recently, Jeremy joined a restaurant group and is currently the managing partner/executive chef of Benny’s on the Beach, Lake Worth Florida. Historically located on the Lake Worth pier, it has been a staple in the community, located directly on the beach for over 25 years. Using his fresh perspective, his focus is on improving ingredient quality, the overall menu and experience for the Guests, while maintaining the beloved character and authenticity of the establishment.
This past month, Chef Jeremy was featured on the Food Network appearing on Beat Bobby Flay. Although the final judges did not award Jeremy the win, the audience response disagreeing with the final decision was so overwhelming; the network is scheduling a rematch this year. Chef Jeremy was chosen by the network for his fresh culinary perspective and creativity with seafood.
Native Floridian Jessie Steele grew up in Delray Beach Florida, inspired by Italian and Brazilian cooking from his Grandmothers. After graduating from the Florida Culinary Institute, he worked for Chef Nick Morfogen at 32 East and Chef Ellis Cooley at 3rd & 3rd. His influencers Julia Child, Graham Kerr, and Emeril Legasse inspired him to create scratch dishes that are the backbone of the restaurants he has worked with. He’s known for his interesting twist on vegetables. When he’s not cooking, you’ll find him playing his Fender Jazz bass with his ska/reggae band around town.