Promoting Hospitality as a career of choice, a profession and a vocation, Young Chef Young Waiter USA is a national competition open to all young professional waiters and chefs from any background working in the USA Hospitality sector.

The first Young Chef Young Waiter USA competition will be open to chefs and waiters who and are under 28 years old from any background working in the hospitality industry for 2023.

The Young Chef Young Waiter competition was established in 1979 in the UK and is organised by The Nth Degree Global in partnership with UKHospitality and the Restaurant Association, to promote hospitality as a career of choice, a profession, and a vocation.

The Young Chef Young Waiter USA will host a one-day final at a selected location that will be announced soon for 2023.

World Young Chef Young Waiter USA was launched in 2022 to extend the competition around the globe. The two chef and waiter winners from each country will join for a World Final that will take place in 2023.

World Young Chef Young Waiter USA Competition:

  • Entries open online for WYCYW USA at youngchefyoungwaiter.comin 2023 and will close on a selected date where a short-list will be selected. (Dates TBC soon)
  • Entry is free for young chefs and young waiters who are 28 years old or under and working in the hospitality industry in the USA.
  • The winners will be announced after taking part in a one-day live final. (Dates TBC soon)
  • The World Young Chef Young Waiter Final is scheduled for November 2023.



The aim of World Young Chef Young Waiter is simple: to uncover the very best young talent in our industry and help equip them with relevant skills, current knowledge and the network needed to succeed in the world of hospitality. Devised by respected professionals, the competition has a fresh modern approach that focuses on tasks and criteria that are challenging, educational and fun.

World Young Chef Young Waiter showcases all aspects of hospitality. Inspiring, empowering and inclusive, most of all we celebrate the capabilities and diversity of our amazing industry.

Many past winners have gone on to achieve huge success in hospitality and YCYW proudly supports the future stars in United States kitchens and restaurants. Winners and judges have included some the industry’s great recognisable names to include – Mark Sargeant, Marcus Wareing, Simon King, John Torode, Annie and Germain Schwab, Jeremy King, Raymond Blanc OBE, Heston Blumenthal OBE, The Earl of Bradford, Lord Forte, Angela Hartnett MBE, Simon Girling and Fred Sirieix.


A panel of high-profile service industry veterans, including renowned restaurateur Thomas Keller; award-winning chef Adam Sobel; and Michael Brennan, president of restaurants, will help narrow down the entries to a short list of 20 finalists—10 chefs and 10 waiters—who will battle it out in the two-day live finale and awards party at the Long Beach Convention Center. The two winners of YCYW United States will take part in the World Young Chef Young Waiter Final in Monaco!

Judges - USA

Chef Judges


Michael Brennan

President Specialty Restaurant Group

Michael Brennan, President of Restaurants, started with Specialty Restaurants in May of 2011.  Specialty Restaurants holds an impressive portfolio of 18 award-winning restaurants throughout the United States and generates $150M+ in Food & Beverage Revenue annually.  read more Michael started as a dishwasher when he was 15 years old.  He worked his way up, primarily in the kitchen, in restaurants around the world, learning from the best in the business.  He speaks Spanish and can get by with basic French.  These worldly experiences have helped mold him into the person he is today.  He enjoys giving back to the hospitality industry, mentoring people at all levels. 
Michael leads by example where you can find him helping his teams deliver a 5-Star experience!    

Adam Sobel

Partner of MINA Group and New Italian CO

Adam Sobel is the award-winning chef and partner of MINA Group and New Italian CO. Sobel earned acclaim and success after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. read more Chef Sobel has trained under some of the greatest Chefs in the world including Gunter Seeger, Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud and Guy Savoy. Adam moved to Las Vegas in 2003 to help create the James Beard Award winning restaurant Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace, before moving on to become the chef de cuisine at Guy Savoy. In 2011, Sobel moved to Washington, DC to serve as executive chef at Chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, kickstarting a lifelong partnership with Chef Mina. At MINA Group, Sobel oversees culinary direction for the group’s 40+ restaurants across the US and Dubai, including the Michelin-starred flagship in San Francisco, MICHAEL MINA. Among many awards and television appearances, Sobel was crowned the “King of Porc” at the prestigious Grand Cochon at Aspen Food and Wine. Chef Sobel is an activist for sustainable farming, fishing and pasturing raising animals responsibly.

Roland Passot

Propriétaire and Chief Culinary Officer

Growing up in the culinary heart of France, it is no surprise that Roland Passot made his way into some of the best kitchens in the world. read more After working as a young man in such French gastronomic institutions, such as Léon de Lyon, Roland made his way to Dallas to The French Room at the legendary Adolphus hotel in Dallas, where he was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Rising Star Chef in 1980.

In 1988 Roland moved to open his own cozy restaurant, La Folie, in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. La Folie was an instant success, earning the coveted Michelin star, 4-stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, and a place in the Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants in 2015.

The Maîtres Cuisiniers de France inducted him in 1991 and awarded him their Lifetime Achievement award in 2015.


Chef Tony Esnault, regarded as one of Southern California’s best French chefs, has a stellar resume, which includes stints at numerous Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe and in New York. read more Growing up on his grandparents’ farm in the south of France, Esnault learned at an early age to appreciate seasonal ingredients and regional French cooking. At eight years old, Esnault had already decided he wanted to become a chef and went on to train at the François Rabelais culinary school in Lyon. He honed his craft at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe, including Le Montparnasse 25, Carré des Feuillants, Auberge de L’Ill in Alsace, and in 1996, at the legendary Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo, where he met his mentor, Alain Ducasse.

Elegance of flavor and artistic execution have become Esnault’s trademarks in the U.S. At the Ritz Carlton Boston, his reinvention of the hotel restaurant earned him “Best Hotel Chef of America” in 2004 by Food & Wine magazine, and the restaurant four AAA Diamonds and four Mobil Stars. In 2005, Esnault reunited with his mentor in New York City, working as executive chef at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House and opening Adour at the St. Regis in 2007. His work with Ducasse earned the restaurants a combined five Michelin stars and three stars from The New York Times. He also was named StarChef’s “Rising Star.”

Esnault relocated to Los Angeles in 2009 to take the helm at Patina in the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. A year later, Patina was awarded an exceptionally rare four-star review by the Los Angeles Times. At Patina, Southern California’s abundant produce provided Esnault with a new wave of inspiration and reverence for fruits and vegetables.

Mac Dimla

Before attending the Culinary Institute of America in Saint Helena, California, Mac was an alumni of the local high school Prostart Program in his home state of Guam. He competed in the National Prostart Invitiational as a leader of his team and won first place over 40 states and territories for the years 2013 and 2014. read more Mac was a Chef at Hyatt Regency Guam for 2 years and an extern at the Michelin starred Marea in New York City. He was part of the team at Kali restaurant and Republique in Los Angeles. 

Currently, Mac is the Executive Pastry Chef at the renowned Providence Restaurant in Los Angeles, awarded with two highly coveted Michelin stars. At the restaurant, he creates exquisite and refine desserts with local Californian ingredients and house-made chocolate from Hawaiian cacao. He was featured as a "pastry prodigy" by Food and Wine for his pastry program at Providence.

Ross Pangilinan

Ross Pangilinan’s culinary journey began upon graduating from the Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena when he traveled to France to work in the two Michelin-starred Les Trois Marches in Versailles. At the age of 21, Patina Restaurant Group made him sous chef at Pinot Provence, which led to Patina’s founder, chef Joachim Splichal, appointing him sous chef at the Michelin-starred flagship Patina at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. read more Pangilinan later left to open the fine-dining Italian restaurant Sinatra at the Encore at Wynn, Las Vegas. He returned to Patina as executive chef at Leatherby's Cafe Rouge at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where he created innovative Broadway-themed menus for seven years.  At the age of 28, Pangilinan was recognized on Zagat’s “30 under 30” Los Angeles list of trailblazers under the age of 30 helping to define the next wave of culinary greatness.  
Since the opening of his first restaurant in 2016 in downtown Santa Ana, Mix Mix Kitchen Bar was named the 2017 Restaurant of the Year by Orange Coast Magazine and has garnered praise from Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, NBC, and Modern Luxury.  In 2019 Mix Mix Kitchen Bar was awarded the prestigious Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide.  Also in 2019 Pangilinan was named Chef of the Year by the Orange County Business Journal.  His second restaurant Terrace by Mix Mix, at South Coast Plaza was named one of the best new restaurants of 2019 by Orange Coast Magazine.  In 2020 he opened his third restaurant in Long Beach, Remix Kitchen Bar and has recently opened his fourth restaurant Populaire Modern Bistro at South Coast Plaza. 

Jay Marshall CEC, AAC

Executive Chef Sysco San Francisco

A 1976 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Jay has worked in various restaurants from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Florida, including The Fromagerie in New Jersey and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. After moving to California more than 30 years ago he worked at San Jose State as Executive Chef. He has been the Executive Chef position at Sysco San Francisco for eleven years” it’s great working with so many passionate chefs and owners who are looking for new ideas as I can help them in the process” read more Jay received San Francisco Chapter “Chef of the Year” for 2014. He also was the recipient in the Santa Clara Valley Chapter “Chef of the Year” back in 1994. He is past president of the American Culinary Federation Santa Clara Valley Chapter, and ACF-San Francisco Chapter. He has held several ACF National Committee Positions, including By-Laws and Parliamentarian, Accreditation Commission, Nominations and Elections and serves as a Site Accreditation Industry Advisor. Jay earned his Certified Executive Chef in 1995 and was inducted in the American Academy of Chefs in 2006. Chef also holds several competition medals and Presidential Medallions from the late Noel Cullen and John Kinsella. Chef Marshall was a finalist for the 2015 ACF L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award.

Chef Marshall is a member of Chaine des Rotisseures, Disciples Escoffier, L’ Ordere Des Canardiers, Lion’s Club International and San Francisco Professional Food Society. Jay works with the National Restaurant Association and United States Armed Services judging/evaluating Food Service Operations around the country for the Hennessey Award. Jay has judged ProStart Culinary and Hospitality Competition in California and National Invitation ProStart.

Jay has now turned to mentoring young culinarians, he coached students for several years for the ACF California State Student Competition. Chef also helps direct the Deaf Culinary Bowl which 9 teams have competed the past three years. Jay won first and/or second place in the Monterey Chowder Festival seven years in a row. He also has Rib and Potato Salad Professional and People’s Choice awards from North Bay Rib Cook Off two years in a row.

Chef Marshall sits on the Technical Advisory Committee for culinary programs at California School for the Deaf and Job Train, Santa Clara FCCL Program at Wilcox High School.
Jay lives in Fairfield with his bride, Janet of 44 years where they are close to their four grown children and six grandchildren.

Bert P. Cutino, CEC, AAC, HOF, WCMC

Cofounder/C.O.O. The Sardine Factory Restaurant

Born in Monterey, Chef Cutino is an ACF Certified Executive Chef, Food Manager and World Certified Master Chef (WACS). He is the co-founder of the internationally famous Sardine Factory Restaurant and the Cannery Row Management Co. and other companies, read more now including five hotels. He graduated from Monterey Peninsula College with a degree in business and has also received two Doctor of Culinary Arts in Honoris. Chef Cutino has gained National recognition, and he has been the recipient of many awards, including the California Distinguished College Alumni Award, Humanitarian Awards, Diplomat from the California Culinary Academy, US Congressional Record, and local-regional-national Chef of the Year. He was part of the International Culinary “Olympics” with his own team from California in 1988, and he also was appointed Protocol Chairman of the U.S. Culinary Team in 1992. Currently he is a member of the Advisory Board for ACF Team USA 2020. Certified Master by the world Master Chef Society in 1999, he has been awarded many gold medals in competition and been recognized in 9 Halls of Fame. He has also been recognized by Nations Restaurant News as one of the “NRN 50, The New Players," and again in 2007 as the “NRN 50, The Influencers of the Restaurant Industry” and is committed to the future of the hospitality industry through education. He was Chairman of the American Academy of Chefs, 1995-99, which is the ACF Honor Society, the elite 1000 AAC members of 20,000 members of the ACF, Vice President of the American Culinary Federation, Inc., Director of the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque, Euro Toques, Past Chairman of Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA), Co-founder of the ACF Chef & Child Foundation, Past Chairman of the Antonin Carême Society, Past National Chairman of all Professional Members of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs in the USA, and member of many Food & Wine organizations. He is a past member of the board of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation, which represents Certified Master Sommeliers around the country. Chef Cutino also received the Chef Professionalism Award for the ACF Western Region and went on to be honored with the National Chefs Professionalism Award in 2001. In 2002, Chef Cutino was awarded the AAC Chairman’s Medal. In March 2003, he was honored with the IFMA Silver Plate Award, for Independent Restaurants, which is one of the most prestigious awards in the industry given each year. Chef Cutino is past Chairman of the prestigious International Gold and Silver Plate Society. In February of 2005, he was inducted into the Les Disciples de Les Amis d’Escoffier at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant in Lyon, France. In 2006, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Academy of Chefs, which is the highest honor you can receive, and the Nation’s Restaurant News honored him with the NRN Fine Dining Hall of Fame Legends Award also in 2006. In May 2007, Bert was honored by Nation’s Restaurant News with the Menu Masters Hall of Fame Award. In 2009, he was honored with the College of Diplomates Award by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation for his work in the industry with students seeking a career in the culinary arts. He has many times been honored as Distinguished Speaker for Culinary Schools. He initiated a bill, #1850, which funded $11,000,000 for the culinary art's programs in community colleges in California. This bill gives financial aid to students to perpetuate the culinary profession within the state. He is recognized in many publications, newspapers, recognized in “Who’s Who in the National Italian American Foundation” and many other editions of “Who’s Who” worldwide. Chef Cutino has been honored by and a member of the National Sicilian American Foundation and has been certified by The Order Sons of Italy in America. Chef Cutino is very involved locally, and in 2001 was honored with the “Citizen of the Year” award by the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, for which he served as Vice President from 1984-88. In 2007, he was the recipient of the Inaugural Monterey Peninsula College President’s award for his contributions to the school, the community, and his profession. In May of 2013, he was awarded the 2013 Community Service Award from the United Way of Monterey County for his commitment to giving back to the community through the culinary arts. He received recognition for this from then California Congressman Sam Farr, California State Senator Bill Monning, and Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter. He has also done Radio and Television Shows such as Food Network with Celebrity T.V. Chefs Bobby Flay and Rachel Ray. He is active in many charities; one close to his heart is the Meals on Wheels Culinary Classique, which he founded. It is a very innovative fundraiser for Meals on Wheels, which uses the funds to provide meals for about 40,000 people for at least six months. He has raised, since its inception, over $3.5 million dollars, and his concept is now being used in other states by Meals on Wheels. In 2003 & 2015, Meals on Wheels honored him with “The Giving Tree Award” in appreciation for his generosity and involvement in building a better community. Chef Cutino developed and co-founded the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo, Salinas, California for wayward young people who seek a career in the hospitality industry, from chefs to management. He is Co- Chairman of the annual fundraiser, which has raised each year $450,000. In 2012, the American Culinary Federation, at its Western Regional Conference, honored him with the first Cutting-Edge Award for his contributions to the Drummond Culinary Academy. He is a national and state Culinary Judge for the ProStart Culinary Program for high-school students sponsored by the state and national National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. He received his 6th Presidential Medallion from the American Culinary Federation, Inc. for his assistance in establishing the ACF certification program being accepted by the National Restaurant Education Foundation, which reflects most importantly back to the ACF and the NRAEF. In 2013 he made the list as one of the Best Chefs in America. Chef Cutino has cooked for many famous, political and national known figures such as the actor, Clint Eastwood; CBS Sportscaster Jim Nantz as well as Leon Panetta, former Director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense and famous chefs such as Julia Child and Paul Prudhomme, and many others whether it be the local, regional, state, or national.

Bert has been married to his lovely wife Bella (Mangiapane) for forty-eight years as of 2020. They have two sons, Marc and Bart Cutino, daughter in law Kim Cutino and two grandchildren, Bella Michele, and Tony.



Yassmin Sarmadi

Restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi is co-owner of Knife Pleat, an elegant and approachable French restaurant situated in the Penthouse of South Coast Plaza.  read more If the kitchen is the heart of a restaurant, then Yassmin is the soul… and you feel her warmth and elegance upon entering Knife Pleat, which feels like you are walking into her home. The refined architecture and interiors, which she created in collaboration with her architect, is decidedly understated, with a high fashion aesthetic and a soft palette. 

Tony Marcell

Partner & Operations Manager of LUNA and Wayfare Tavern

Tony Marcell is a renowned San Francisco restaurant veteran with over two decades of experience in the hospitality industry. He is widely recognized for the role he played in opening Wayfare Tavern and has been credited for much of the restaurant’s initial and ongoing success. read more A Washington native, Marcell grew up in the restaurant industry. His earliest memories include assisting his father in selling high-end meats to chefs in the Seattle area. He found beauty in the aroma and ingredients these chefs worked with and enjoyed the high energy intensity of the culinary teams he met. He recognized the creativity involved in curating a beautiful, delicious meal and eventually found pleasure and “an exhilarating and rewarding feeling” from learning to create them himself.

Throughout Marcell’s childhood, his mother and father worked in restaurants. His mother was a talented chef who took her skill home and taught Marcell professional cooking techniques in the home kitchen. Experiencing superior family meals and fabulous dinner parties, coupled with those early outings in various kitchens with his father, sparked Marcell’s passion for the industry.

In high school, Marcell began his own career in the restaurant business working at Triples, a downtown Seattle hotspot owned by Restaurants Unlimited, a food and beverage firm that operated 35 restaurants in six states. He stayed with the company through college, working his way through school by bartending and waiting tables.

After graduating from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing, Marcell continued his career with Restaurants Unlimited for another two years, moving to Hawaii and honing his skills in the kitchen as a sous chef. In 1995, he relocated to San Francisco and took his first job with The Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group on their front-of-house team learning operational and managerial skills and engaging with restaurant guests.

After five years with Kimpton, Marcell accepted a position as floor manager at famed restaurateur and Michelin-starred chef Laurent Manrique’s groundbreaking restaurant, Aqua. Under the mentorship of Jean Claude Persais at Aqua, Marcell learned the “art of fine dining” and worked as general manager of the establishment within two years where he achieved a Michelin Two Star rating in 2006.

In 2007, Marcell began consulting for San Francisco design firm, Puccini Group where he opened newly designed restaurants within hotels throughout the city of San Francisco and across the US. Three years later, in 2010, he opened Wayfare Tavern with celebrity chef Tyler Florence, which is now on it’s 13th year.

Marcell opened LUNA, in the Mission in 2021 to create a modern and timeless gathering place for good “Kitchen and Cocktails” with a casual and comfortable setting that is welcoming to a diverse clientele for all occasions

In his free time, Marcell enjoys spending time with his 9 yr old daughter, Que. Swimming and playing Golf.

Rochelle Trotter

Founder of R’Culinaire

Rochelle Trotter is the Founder of R’Culinaire, a strategic consultancy specializing in the hospitality industry. With over three decades of experience, she is widely recognized as a “go-to” strategist for operational evaluation and project management in the restaurant field for both front and back of the house. read more Rochelle served as Consulting Chief Operating Officer for The Charlie Trotter Corporation for over a decade. Additionally, she has worked on culinary development projects with many international brands, including Kerzner International, The Ritz corporation, Venetian Hotel Resort & Casino, and Sodexho, to name a few.

While her operational expertise is in restaurant finance, she stretched herself to understand the culinary side of the business by attending The Ritz Escoffier in Paris and obtaining her Level 1 Master Sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Her passion is service, and she can often be found judging culinary competitions for the Illinois Restaurant Association and Chicago Public Schools. With a ‘hands-on” approach to teaching, she has been recruited to teach in culinary camps, including the University of Chicago’s “Farm To Table” summer camp program.

Philanthropy is near to Rochelle’s heart. She served as Executive Director for the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation from 2002-2012. In 2016 she established an endowment to honor her late husband. To date, this endowment has awarded 50 need-based scholarships to youth attending culinary college.

Aside from consulting, Rochelle is a highly sought television personality, where she often reports on restaurant trends, hosts cooking demonstrations, or teaches about healthy eating.

Additionally, Rochelle is an international speaker and has been featured at retreats in Mexico, the Philippines, Tahiti, and St. Lucia.

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