Meet the Chefs

Cherry Cricket

Chef Daniel Ramirez

Daniel Ramirez started his career as a chef in 1994, in Southern California at Trilussa, a renowned Italian restaurant. For 10 years, he studied under the supervision of Italian chefs who prepared dishes with traditional Italian methods and recipes.

After moving to Denver, he continued his passion for Italian cooking with head chef positions at Pagliacci’s and Gaetano’s restaurant. He ventured into American cuisine at Mead St. Station, where he started perfecting his burger recipes. As the head chef of the Cherry Cricket, Daniel works to make the best appetizers, sides, entrees and of course, burgers you can get in all of Denver.

Quality Italian

Chef BJ Wojtowicz

Growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania, Robert “BJ” Wojtowicz fell in love with the culinary world at a young age. Working as a dishwasher at the age of 14 to make extra spending money, BJ knew that working in a restaurant wasn’t just an after-school job and he always had the confidence that he’d lead his own kitchen some day. BJ graduated from Denver’s Johnson and Wales University and began working for one of the city’s most well respected chefs, Kevin Taylor, at Hotel Teatro. In 2009, BJ moved to the West Coast to become the Chef de Partie at Napa Valley’s celebrated The French Laundry where he specialized in making charcuterie from whole animals.

After returning home to Pennsylvania to work as the Executive Chef of Connor’s Grillroom, BJ relocated to New York City to become a sous chef at Eleven Madison Park. It was at Eleven Madison Park, named the best restaurant in the world from San Pellegrino in 2017, that BJ had the opportunity to sharpen his skills in all aspects of the restaurant: running small intimate dining experiences for various celebrities and VIP’s, participating as part of the creative team for menu recipe and cookbook development, and managing a team of over 60 cooks. After four years, BJ moved to Denver for family and friends and his extensive experience in fine dining led him to use his deep knowledge of food, flavors, and his way around a fast-paced kitchen to earn the position of Executive Chef at Quality Italian Denver. BJ lives in Lowry with his girlfriend and when he’s not in the kitchen, he loves to hang out with his dog and cat, Piper and Harry.

Bad Daddy's Burger Bar


What happens when you take America’s most classic cuisine – the hamburger – and turn it up a notch? At Bad Daddy's Burger Bar, the humble hamburger is given superstar status. Bad Daddy’s inspired recipes respect the basic necessities of what makes a burger a burger, yet also shoot for the moon with unexpected culinary twists. The premium Angus Beef is topped with housemade sauces, dressings, and dips from their scratch kitchen. Want to skip the beef? Bad Daddy’s has it all with turkey, bison, chicken, a housemade black bean burger, and a house ground tuna burger.

Put yourself in the chef’s seat with the Create Your Own Burger or Salad menu, with over 60 ingredients, guests can let their creativity shine from housemade pesto, freshly sliced Boar’s head pastrami, to sautéed wild mushrooms. If you really want to break the mold, try buttermilk fried bacon, peanut butter, and housemade pimento cheese. With a selection of 17 regional craft beers on their tap, a beer with your burger is the perfect pair. Speaking of drinks, throw in a shot of local bourbon to the handspun shakes made with frozen custard to finish your meal or kick back with friends and our Bad Ass Margarita (#limit2) Opened since 2014, Bad Daddy’s Cherry Creek is a full service, upscale, "small box" restaurant concept featuring a high-energy atmosphere that’s as comfortable as a pair of faded blue jeans.

Del Frisco's Grille

Chef Daniel Kane

Daniel B. Kane, executive chef at Del Frisco’s Grille in Denver’s Cherry Creek North neighborhood, brings a unique set of talents to the culinary scene. While Del Frisco’s Grille has a reputation for offering a creative twist on American comfort cuisine, Chef Dan has brought his signature style and expertise to the menu by introducing a selection of new, featured seasonal items to the menu. He’s a culinary veteran who has managed a number of upscale kitchens and manages all aspects of the grille’s culinary offerings, making sure each dish that leaves his kitchen exceeds his high standards.

Prior to taking the helm at Del Frisco’s Grille. Chef Dan made his mark on Denver’s culinary scene as the chef at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. Chef Dan’s years of experience have taken him to award-winning Dandelion restaurant in Boulder, Steamboat Ski and Resort in the Rocky Mountains, Willie G’s Seafood and Steak in Denver and Simms Steakhouse in Lakewood.

In addition to earning his bachelor of art degree from Indiana University, Chef Dan began his culinary journey at the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver where he earned a culinary arts degree. In addition to his culinary expertise, he is also a wine enthusiast, earning The Court of Master Sommeliers level one certification.

When he’s not overseeing the Del Frisco’s Grille kitchen, Chef Dan can be found cooking at home or taking in a meal and great glass of wine at one of his favorite neighborhood restaurants.

Thirsty Lion

Chef Casey Johnson

Casey Johnson has been working in restaurants since he was 14 years old.  He had 7 years of management experience with Rock Bottom and Famous Dave's before joining Thirsty Lion as Sous Chef at Union Station in May 2015. 

Casey earned a BA in Fine Arts from University of Colorado, Boulder.  His hobbies include figuring out how things work and building them from scratch.  Recently he had to repair the barn wall that the donkey's ate so they could escape.

Chef Brodie Campbell describes Casey as a top-notch Chef who brings boatloads of strength to the table.

True Food Kitchen

Chef Zachary Hellmann

Zachary Hellmann is an experienced Executive Chef with over 16 years of restaurant experience and a wealth of culinary-science knowledge. His strong passion for northern Italian culture and cuisine influences his culinary techniques. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2009 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Zachary furthered his education and pursued his passion for wine and the culinary arts; traveling and achieving certificates from institutions in Chengdu and Beijing, China, as well as Turin, and Bologna, Italy. He returned to New York working alongside Certified Master Chef’s, constantly pushing his knowledge and culinary techniques. Chef Hellmann accepted his first Executive Chef position with a private wine making club, Santo Stefano in Wappinger Falls, New York. He there fine-tuned his classic Italian techniques and wine making education.

Chef Hellmann continued his development joining the restaurant company, The White Chocolate Grill, an American restaurant featuring a hard wood grill and from scratch cooking. He spent nearly five years working at their three locations: Chicago, Scottsdale and Denver. In Denver, Zachary started as their Executive Chef, quickly transitioning into the front of the house as their General Manager. He left The White Chocolate Grill to pursue the fine-dining area of the market, joining Eddie Merlot’s Prime Aged Steakhouse as the Executive Chef, opening the companies’ first restaurant in Colorado. After nearly 2 years with Eddie Merlots Zachary left the dinner only steakhouse and joined True Food Kitchen in Cherry Creek as the Executive Chef.

With his past education in Health and Wellness Nutritional Science, this style of restaurant mirrored his lifestyle and passion for sustainability helping the chef return to his roots while teaching and mentoring the future leaders in the industry. Zachary Hellmann resides in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife Nicole.

Vinue Food & Wine Bar

Chef Jessica Dean

Jessica Dean found her passion for culinary arts at a young age and decided to further her knowledge and skills by attending Johnson and Wales University. There, she learned under amazing Chefs and worked in different parts of the industry, trying to find her specialty. Dean studied in Italy learning to make pasta with the freshest ingredients. She then worked her way from fast paced restaurants to bakeries, to a cooking school and eventually landed at Vinue Food and Wine Bar where she has grown her passion for wine. Jessica quickly worked her way up from Sous Chef to Executive where she has run the kitchen for a year and continues to grow her love and knowledge of food and wine hand in hand.

Blue Island Oyster Bar & Seafood

Chef Jesse Prier

Jesse Prier is the Executive Chef at Blue Island Oyster Bar & Seafood. Part of Denver-based Concept Restaurant Groups' culinary team for five years, he's also held chef positions at Ignite, Rialto Café and Stout Street Social. Prior to joining Concept, Prier worked as a sous chef at Denver's LoHi Steak Bar, Madison Street, TAG and Big Game restaurants. Before he became part of the Denver culinary scene, Prier honed his skills in Atlanta, at restaurants including Max's Pizzeria, 30 Tables, Maxim Prime and Sala Sabor de Mexico. He has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Vanderbilt.

SOL Mexican Cocina

Chef Deborah Schneider

Dubbed by Bon Appetit Magazine, “The reigning queen of San Diego chefs,” and nominated for a coveted 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for her cookbook Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La PuertaChef Deborah Schneider brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her newest venture as Executive Chef of SOL Cocina. Schneider draws upon her rich culinary background and over 25 years of professional cooking experience to bring the wonderful tastes and laid–back beach vibe of the Baja Peninsula to Southern California.

Schneider’s passion for Baja was inspired by countless surf trips down the coast. There, at small street stands and on pristine beaches, she discovered the flavorful, healthy cuisine, rich with fresh seafood and inventive preparations, that is at the heart of the concept of SOL Mexican Cocina. Her first cookbook, ¡Baja! Cooking on the Edge (Rodale, 2006) was chosen one of “The Best of the Best” of 2006 by Food & Wine MagazineAmor y Tacos (STC, 2010) which puts an exciting spin on modern Mexican food and cocktails and features many recipes from SOL Mexican Cocina.

Second Home Kitchen + Bar

Chef Denis Zvekic



Denis Zvekic is the Executive Chef at Denver’s home-away-from-home eatery, Second Home Kitchen + Bar by Sage Restaurant Group (SRG). With an ever-changing, seasonal menu, Chef Denis uses modern techniques and locally-sourced ingredients to elevate the dishes at Second Home. His menu aims to be remain approachable while continuing to surprise and delight guests with unique twists on classic comfort foods. Everything Chef Denis does is with respect to origin, so when a diner enjoys one of his meals, it feels like home.

Chef Denis first joined the Second Home team in 2008 as Sous Chef. Since then he has proven his business savvy and to be a very creative culinary talent. As one of the masterminds behind our ever popular Pajama Brunch there is no denying his creativity and drive to innovate, there is no telling what is coming next! When he is not in the restaurant, you can find Chef Denis in the early mornings fly fishing in the beautiful Colorado mountains.

Departure Denver Restaurant + Lounge

Chef Erin Koroll

Erin began cooking early on; standing on tiptoes helping with pizza night, peeling and de-seeding chilies with dad, making rootbeer floats with grandma. It was a foundation eventually hidden by all of the thrills of young adulthood. After she left home, Erin spent time at Colorado Mountain College studying Outdoor Adventure Education and working as a River Guide and Wilderness First Responder. 

Eventually, she came back to cooking, and worked as an overnight baker for 5 years in the mountains of Colorado. During that time and soon after she traveled in Japan, Mexico, and the US; eating, drinking, cooking, and experiencing the cuisines. She came back to cooking. Her dedication to the craft has led her to work for and alongside some of the best in the business; from mom and pop pastry shops to Michelin rated restaurants.

Her time at Departure started in Portland in 2013, she sought out a kitchen and Chef who would inspire and challenge her. She and Chef Gregory crafted a unique dessert menu which has grown and matured over the years; blending authentic Asian ingredients with iconic dessert inspirations. Departure Denver opened August 2016, and since then Erin has been staying true to Departure's path, while incorporating her own love for traditional techniques, exotic ingredients, and unique fermentation projects.