Stories / Impact

Introducing the 2023-2024 Legacy Network Cohort

JBF Editors

October 12, 2023


Today, we are proud to announce the 2023-2024 Legacy Network cohort! The James Beard Foundation Legacy Network trains emerging BIPOC leaders across the culinary industry and connects them with future generations of excellence. By developing and cultivating the capabilities among, and peer groups of, these influential professionals, Legacy Network advances the equitable, culturally relevant leadership required to strengthen the industry. This seven-month virtual program enables selected Advisors and Advisees to participate in an opportunity to expand their network and consult and receive support from fellow BIPOC industry professionals.

Read on to get to know our 2023-2024 cohort!


Muhammad Abdul-Hadi
Muhammad Abdul-Hadi is the founder and owner of Down North Pizza, a mission-driven restaurant that exclusively hires formerly incarcerated individuals and serves up pies with a purpose in Philadelphia. Leveraging his academic background in criminal justice and law enforcement administration and experiences as an entrepreneur, Muhammad embarked on a path to reimagine a business leader’s role in supporting underserved communities. Through fair wages, innovative hiring practices, and community building, he is on a mission to help reduce recidivism rates, particularly in the Black community. 

Bleu Adams
Bleu Adams, Mandan/Hidatsa/Dine', is the founder of Black Sheep Cafe, a member of the U.S. Department of State’s American Culinary Corps, and the director of IndigeHub—an organization dedicated to nurturing relationships within indigenous communities, amplifying their voices, and co-creating solutions to address their specific needs. Bleu firmly believes in the transformative power of education, knowledge-sharing, and capacity-building for sustainable impact. Her efforts in forging partnerships and advocating for policies reflect her unwavering commitment to equity for all and social and environmental justice. Bleu is an alum of JBF’s Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change and Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Cyrus Batchan
Born and raised in Southern California, Cyrus Batchan worked in restaurants from an early age until beginning a career in law and real estate. During his time at University of San Diego School of Law, he melded his two passions and became director of bars and nightlife for the W Hotel in San Diego. In 2012, he started No.8 Hospitality—the launching pad for his future projects, including his first opening: upscale Koreatown lounge Lock & Key. Cyrus expanded the business to Vietnam and throughout Los Angeles, earning accolades along the way from outlets including Robb Report, Eater, Food & Wine, and GQ.

Robert Bowden
Robert Bowden is an award-winning chocolatier based in Denville, New Jersey and founder of Viveré Chocolates. Robert channels his passion for making a difference in the lives of cocoa farmers into policy work to support producers. He also teaches aspiring pastry chefs and chocolate makers about the craft, sustainability, and the global impact of cocoa. He was chosen as a delegate for the U.S. trade mission to Ivory Coast and has judged the International Chocolate Awards.

Kimberly Brock Brown 
Kimberly Brock Brown is a culinary leader who has been affiliated with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) since the mid-1980s, rising through the ranks of leadership to become a board member and representative of the 14,000-member organization. She holds talks on leadership and culinary professionalism for diverse groups in the U.S. and abroad, and was inducted into the honor society at the National Canadian Culinary Federation in 2022. She is also a chef-leader and advisor for the U.S. Department of State’s American Culinary Corps alongside fellow culinarians.

Katy Chang
Katy Chang is a social impact entrepreneur, chef, farmer, and the CEO of EatsPlace, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides entrepreneurial coaching and technical assistance to farm and food businesses through its food hub. Through EatsPlace, Katy has mentored and offered business and operations consulting to numerous businesses in the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia region. She was also a Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture Fellow under chef Dan Barber.

Rohani Foulkes 
Rohani Foulkes is a First Nation, Torres Strait Islander who, after years of teaching, pursued community development work and immigrated from Australia to the U.S. to join the United Nations Education Outreach division in 2012. She later moved to Detroit and worked with local food banks, pantries, and federal feeding programs and opened a number of award-winning hospitality establishments. Her advocacy for fair and equitable wages and more ethical production, restaurant, and farm industry standards has been recognized by publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit, and Eater. She is an alum of JBF’s Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change and Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Arcelia Gallardo  
Arcelia Gallardo is the founder of Mission Chocolate with over 20 years of experience as a chocolate maker with a specialty in Latin American cacao and flavors. Both personally and as a volunteer for USAID, Arcelia mentors indigenous women and youth in cocoa growing regions by teaching them chocolate making and guiding their process of starting a business. Prior to shfiting her work to cacao, Arcelia opened a Latin American–themed confectionery store in Berkeley, California, where she focused on hiring Dreamer/DACA students from UC Berkeley, and spent three years mentoring 120 undergraduates in career decisions, continued education, financial literacy, and leadership training with the Greenlining Institute. 

Ashlee Jack 
Ashlee Jack is a seasoned businesswoman with over 17 years of experience in hospitality. Following her studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she rose through the ranks in Las Vegas dining clubs and luxury hotels and later moved to Washington, D.C. to become partner at District Restaurant Group. Currently, she is the director of Lemon Group Hospitality and focuses her time both on creating casual dining concepts for their multi-region portfolio and mentoring her team and aspiring talent.

Ka Man Lee (Karma Lee) 
Karma Lee is a first-generation immigrant from Macau, China with a passion for business and improving the well-being of others. With a master's degree in public health, Karma has emerged as a successful entrepeneur with ventures in IT, consulting, and food and beverage industries. She gives back to her local community through a number of endeavors, including as a mentor for the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship Foundation, coach for the Miss Seattle Chinese Organization, and elected community advisor for Evergreen Health Hospital. Her work in both the culinary and health fields has been recognized by Forbes, Seattle Met Magazine, 425 Magazine, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Vincent Morrow  
A master sommelier by age 30, Vincent Marrow studied for the exam while working at two Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurants concurrently. In 2017, he won the USA Championship and placed third globally at the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Jeunes Sommeliers Competition. In his role as the wine director at PRESS Restaurant, he has been shepherding the largest collection of Napa Valley wines, earning the wine program’s first Wine Spectator Grand Award in 2022—the same year in which he was named the Michelin Guide California’s Sommelier of the Year. As chairperson of the diversity committee of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Morrow is working to grow the diversity of the wine industry and access to wine education and mentorship.

Alexandra Pellot  
Alexandra Pellot first joined the food and beverage industry when working in restaurants to help pay for college, but ended up finding her passion. Her accomplishments over the last 17 years include becoming the only female bartender to make it to the top three in 2012 World Class Puerto Rico, studying at César Rtiz College in Switzerland, and running the food and beverage department at a resort in Paso Robles wine country. She also opened her own restaurant just before the pandemic and is proud to have built a successful business with over 50 employees. 

Digby Stridiron
A native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Digby Stridiron grew up immersed in what many call the “slow food” movement and influenced by West Indian culinary tradition. He opened award-winning restaurants balter and braata in his hometown of St. Croix, served as a culinary ambassador for the U.S. Virgin Islands, founded the West Indian Chefs Alliance (WICA), and hosted the first JBF chef dinner held in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Stridiron is the chef of Latha in Phoenix and an alum of JBF’s Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change.

Aneesa Waheed 
Aneesa Waheed is the chef and owner of Tara Kitchen, which has garnered a devoted following over the past ten years at its New York and New Jersey locations for serving deeply flavorful food reflective of Morocco’s history as a cultural crossroad. Aneesa fell in love with Moroccan cuisine during a trip to Marrakech, and has since mastered the inventive Moroccan twist she puts on comfort food. She earned the Women Who Mean Business Award, ICCR Business and Entrepreneurship Award, and New York State Assembly Women of Distinction honor, and has been featured in shows such as Beat Bobby Flay, Kitchen Crashers, and Guy’s Grocery Games.

Kisha Washington  
Kisha Washington is the executive chef and owner of The Key Ingredient, a private chef company that provides upscale private dining in clients’ homes, lavish desserts, and meal planning services. She is also the founder and president of a nonprofit that provides scholarships, mental health and substance abuse resources, and mentorship to the hospitality industry. Kisha is also an award-winning competition chef with titles from the World Food Championships, a member of the advisory board for Just Call Me Chef (an organization for Black female chefs), and a partner of the Mental Health Hospitality Coalition.


Tina Archuleta 
Tina Archuleta grew up in a native reservation in New Mexico, where she developed a close relationship to the food of her agriculturalist community. Guided by traditional methods and techniques, she created a plant-based menu of Pueblo food and began selling grab-and-go food at a local gas station in 2018. During the pandemic, Tina expanded to catering, cooking demonstrations, and pop-ups, and went on to open her first brick-and-mortar location in Albuquerque in 2022.

Michelle Barrera
After a 13-year career as a registered nurse, Michelle Barrera pivoted into food and beverage communications, partnership and community building, and events. She started EnjoySLO, an online resource that champions local emerging businesses and events, and is a founder of At Her Table, a collective of women-owned businesses in the food and beverage industry with over 250 members throughout San Luis Obispo County.

Gabrielle Brown
Gabrielle Brown has always been interested in being a part of the culinary industry, starting her career as a grill cook in Michael Mina’s Locale Market, where she was exposed to talented chefs with a variety of specialties. Gabrielle is currently in charge of inventory and continues to develop her managerial skills via vendor relations. 

Justin Coleman
Following experiences in a variety of restaurants, Justin Coleman felt inspiration from his late brother to open a food truck in 2019, Bake’n Bacon. Through participation in festivals and private events in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, he has grown the business to serve over 200,000 people and aims to expand the food truck fleet and eventually franchise the brand. Justin has collaborated with two local breweries to create bacon-themed beer and is in the process of opening Philadelphia’s first and only bacon-inspired restaurant and bar.

Candice Custodio
Over the last five years, Candice Custodio transitioned from the technical field to the culinary industry and has been developing her expertise and craft. She started her own business as a private chef in Beverly Hills and relocated to the Central Coast following the pandemic, where she grew to sous and executive chef positions at presitgious wineries around the country. She went on to appear on Food Network’s Chopped and now runs a monthly supper club that showcases her talent developing traditional and experimental Latin menus, and is the chef of a renowned bed and breakfast.

Likitha Gali 
Likitha Gali is a Lavonne Academy of Pastry Arts graduate interested in the chemistry that underpins successful pastry-making and weaving sustainability into her journey to become a vegan pastry chef. She has worked alongside acclaimed chefs such as Antonio Bachour and Lara Colmen—experiences in which she refined her precision, creativity, artistry, and collaboration skills. In addition to her role as a pastry chef, she runs workshops and demonstrations and has ventured into recipe development and food photography.

Isaiah Gerrad
Isaiah Gerrad’s early culinary experiences include working at a country club and supporting wedding and banquet catering. In 2022, he started his own business doing private dinners in Las Vegas and Houston. He is a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America associates program and is now working towards his bachelor’s degree at the Hyde Park campus in New York. Among his recent work experiences include working for chef Wolfgang Puck at CUT Steakhouse and chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bistro.

Jacqueline (Jackiez) Gonzalez 
Jackiez Gonzalez’s invovlement in the culinary industry transitioned from personal to professional in 2021, when she participated in a start-up accelerator program. Her project, Regenerate | Reimagine, aimed to utilize untapped spaces in predominantly Latinx Tulsa neighborhoods as pop-up locations for art, food, and entertainment. She collaborated with aspiring restaurateurs to explore potential spaces for restaurant concepts and launch pop-ups, and went on to secure grants to continue this work. Jackiez is driven by a dedication to addressing systemic barriers and fostering equitable opportunities for BIPOC restaurateurs.

Medegine Guillaume 
After working as a line cook and supporting guest relations at the Institute of Culinary Education, Medegine Guillame trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She honed her skills at Nougatine by Jean-Georges and Baldor Speciality, where she developed a keen understanding of ingredients, and is committed to growing as a chef and future restaurateur. She comes from a Caribbean background and is eager to see more chefs from her community thrive in the culinary landscape. 

Phu “David” Ho 
David Ho’s inspiration to attend the Culinary Institute of America was sparked when he learned that the founder of Chipotle–where he worked at the time–was a graduate. He grew his craft tremendously while working with John Gronkiewicz, the sous chef of Redbird in Los Angeles, and moved to Washington, D.C., where he eventually grew to sous chef at the high-end Vietnamese concept, Moon Rabbit. He is now opening his own concept to promote Vietnmaese cuisine. 

A. Jazmine Ladouceur 
Jazmine Ladouceur is a Napa Valley Wine Academy graduate and owner of Noire Wine Lounge, a contemporary wine experience dedicated to spotlighting and celebrating a community of artists, vintners, wineries, and wine brands of color. She gained hands-on experience working the 2022 vintage harvest at Heitz Cellar, has been recognized by The LIFT Collective, and is a member of the the Association of African American Vintners and Wine Unify as a recipient and ambassador. In addition to her work at Noire Wine Lounge, Jazmine curates and participates in wine events and consults with restaurants in the creation of their wine programs.

David Manrique 
David Manrique is a New York–based Colombian screenwriter, filmmaker, and photographer with over 15 years of experience in content creation. Though he has worked with a range of brands, he spent the last five years mostly in the food space with restaurants, brands like DoorDash, and local organizations fighting hunger. He recently started Food As Content—a storytelling studio on a mission to contribute to a more conscious and inclusive food and media culture that values the planet, nourishes communities, and engages audiences through the transformative power of food.

Jada Prince 
Jada Prince’s culinary journey started in the kitchen alongside her grandmother and great grandmother, who passed cherished family recipes and culinary creativity down to her. She ventured into baking professionally and took exciting turns into catering and a personal chef business. With every meal she creates, Jada aims to evoke memories, spark conversations, and create moments that linger in the hearts of those who partake. She aspires to one day offer her products in stores. 

Jose Rodriguez 
Jose Rodriguez fell in love with cooking while growing up in a Mexican household and helping his grandmother prepare dishes full of scents, chiles, and spices. He grew his skills through experiences at a country club and the Four Seasons, ultimately joining the team at Bacanora. 

Kai Roland 
Kai Roland is a 2021 Kendall College graduate whose love of cooking emerged when helping her family matriarchs in the kitchen and becoming the main preparer of family holidays at age 15. She has a deep interest in East and Southeast Asian cuisine and is learning Korean and Japanese in pursuit of her dream to one day own a cafe or bakery abroad. Kai developed precision, persistence, and thoughtfulness in the kitchen during her time at James Beard Award–winning and Michelin-starred restaurant Parachute in Chicago.

Learn more about the Legacy Network here.