JOHN DRAZ: Executive Research Chef
John Draz had his start in foodservice at the age of 16 as a banquet waiter at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center. He received an A.O.S. degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY in 1981, and was the recipient of the Edward T. Hanley Scholarship given by the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union.
Upon graduation, John furthered his education with an apprenticeship at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Working in all areas of the hotel’s kitchen, he rose to the position of Sous Chef. In 1983, John took a position of Chef at the Winnetka Grill. While there, he was featured on PBS television series Great Chefs of Chicago.
During the course of his career, John has been Executive Chef of George’s, a Northern Italian restaurant and night club; Sous Chef of Cafe Provencale in Evanston, IL; and has worked as a cook at The Nintey-fifth, Hyatt Regency O’Hare, and other Chicago area restaurants. John is also experienced as the chef/owner of a 300-seat fine dining restaurant in Chicago’s western suburbs.
As a “founding” faculty member of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Evanston, IL, John has had the opportunity to teach a wide variety of subjects related to professional cookery. From 1988 through 1991, he chaired the culinary department, supervising all aspects of instruction and college foodservice. He holds certifications from The American Culinary Federation at the levels of “Certified Executive Chef” and “Certified Culinary Educator.”
Born in Illinois, raised in her grandmother’s Arizona kitchen, Jaime Perry-Mestan has been cooking all her life.
She is a baccalaureate graduate of the Culinary School of Kendall College where she also worked as a teaching assistant. While at Kendall, she managed on-campus restaurants and events, and won first place in The Chefs Of Grey Poupon Competition in addition to the Kraft Chefs of Grey Poupon scholarship.
After graduation, Jaime worked at Table 52 in Chicago’s Gold Coast for Chef Art Smith, Oprah’s personal chef.
Jaime began her current position at Miniat in January 2009 as Assistant Research Chef. Jaime’s current responsibilities include overseeing the day to day operations of the Miniat Culinary Center and working with national chain accounts in creating new menu items and protein concepts.