The Vine Wine Club is proud to present “Behind the Business- East”, a regional event for Cuisine Noir’s
acclaimed conference. This conference was developed to provide an inside peek at the inter-workings of many successful businesses, to hear stories of perseverance, and to gain support of others who have experienced closed doors and stiff obstacles.

The regional offering is a mini-conference that focuses on the food and beverage industries. It is designed to also develop an appetite to find your creative niche in the industry. Because we know that everyone can’t be in the kitchen, we encourage and highlight those who are doing phenomenal work outside of the kitchen as well. We end with a network reception that provides time to meet all the guests and panelists.

Experience. Learn. Develop.

February 10, 2018

Dominion Arts Center
600 E. Grace Street, Richmond, VA
1:00 PM
5:00 PM Network Reception

Panels & Workshops

“Starting My Own Brand” Led by Gwen Hurt, Owner of Shoe Crazy Wine

“Food Carts, Pop-ups and Other Cool Concepts” Led by Michael Sparks of “Pop-Up Revolution”

“Alternative Careers in the Culinary Arts” Led by Dr. Berkita Bradford, Virginia State University

Keynote Speaker

Top Chef, Entrepreneur, & Philanthropist

Food culture has always been prominent in Sbraga’s life, growing up in his dad’s bakery with his African American father and Italian-American mother. From making meatballs with his mother and snacking on collard greens and candied yams with his father, to gathering around the supper table to enjoy a multitude of dishes, his upbringing continues to influence his cooking philosophy today.

Adding technique to family tradition, Sbraga’s ongoing interest in cooking led him to pursue a formal culinary education at Johnson & Wales University in Miami. He went on to hold positions at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, under Executive Chef Lawrence McFadden CMC, and Chef de Cuisine Arnaud Berthelier. Later at Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as with Chefs Guenter Seeger and Joël Antunes, before moving back to his Philadelphia roots. Here, he honed his skills under prolific chef George Perrier at Le Mas Perrier, Washington Square, and at the esteemed Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia.

In 2008, he began consulting work with Jose Garces to test recipes for the chef-proprietor’s Latin Evolution cookbook. Sbraga impressed Garces with his dedication, which earned him a full-time role as Culinary Director of Garces Restaurant Group. Sbraga went on to win the award for Best Meat Presentation in the Bocuse d’Or USA competition in fall 2008, before working as executive chef for Stephen Starr at Rat’s Restaurant at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.

In 2010, Sbraga joined the cast of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” emerging from the season with the title and win. He launched the modern American restaurant, Sbraga, in October 2011 that was repeatedly voted one of Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best Restaurants.” His second critically-acclaimed venture, The Fat Ham, opened in December 2013 in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia and in King of Prussia in 2016. He also extended his brand with the concept Sbraga & Co. in Jacksonville, FL.

He made a return to television during summer 2016, appearing on the celebrity chef judging panel of FOX’s “MasterChef,” season 7.

Sbraga has two children, Jenae and Angelo, and lives in Philadelphia. He is passionate about giving back to the community, and often supports childhood- related charities such as CHOP, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Admission & Vending

Tickets are $59 per adult and $29 for students. Tickets available (here).
Vending Opportunities are limited. $89 including admission to the conference and the reception.

Registration Opens at 1:00 pm. Conference starts at 1:30 pm

1:30 to 2:15: Welcome and “Maintaining Financial Security While Pursuing Your Dreams” – Sponsored by BB&T Wealth Managers

2:15 to 3:00: First Panel (Food Carts, Pop Ups and Other Cool Concepts)

3:00 to 3:45: Breakout Sessions

Session A: Alternative Careers in the Culinary Arts: Dr. Berkita Bradford, Moderator
Session B: Starting My Own Brand: Gwen Hurt, Moderator

4:00 to 5:00: Keynote Address: Bravo’s “Top Chef” Winner Kevin Sbraga

5:00 to 6:00: Networking Reception featuring The Chan Hall Trio


1. Food Carts, Pop-ups and Other Cool Concepts (This will be a main panel)

a. Micheal Sparks
b. Christine Wansleben – Mise En Place
c. Brak Braxton
d. Stacie Page

2. The Business of Beverages (Breakout)

a. Gwen Hurt (moderator)
b. Tom Martin
c. AJ Brewer
d. Barbara Joynes (winery owner)

3. Alternatives Careers in the Culinary Arts (Breakout)

a. Berkita Bradford (moderator)
b. Tyler Darden
c. Ladonte Cooper – maybe not
d. Angela Davis (Kitchenista)

4. Maintaining Financial Security While Pursuing Your Dreams – Sponsored by BB&T Wealth Managers

5. Keynote Address – Kevin Sbraga