Meet our Culinary Team

Our talented chefs and culinary team create recipes for your success.

Chef Liz Ziegler
Director of Culinary
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Culinary Institute of America
Hyde Park, NY

“I became intrigued with food when I was old enough to make an over-easy egg. I took turns with my siblings making family dinners and I quickly found out what a joy it was to feed people.“

Why I became a chef: I love mastering cooking techniques and playing with unique ingredients. Just when you think everything has been done already with food, there is new innovation that pushes into new boundaries. It intrigues me that it’s ever-changing.

My greatest inspiration: Julia Child was my greatest inspiration. She empowered women to attend culinary school and cook professionally. I am grateful that I got to meet her when I was a young chef, just starting out.

What I like best about my job: I love helping people. Whether it’s helping our salespeople, our clients or our customers, I really enjoy the challenge of finding solutions that mutually help our businesses grow.

Chef Jason Hooker
Corporate Executive Chef
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Culinary Gala Board, Ferris State University

“I love to cook because it’s the ultimate common denominator. Regardless of time, place or culture. If you can cook for someone, you are sharing yourself with them. When they eat with you, they open themselves up to you”

Why I became a chef: I was raised in a restaurant, literally. So, I’ve always been a part of the environment.  Once I got the opportunity to train under amazing chefs and gain opportunities for responsibility, I found the challenge addicting.  The reward early on and still today has been the ability to positively influence people’s lives through the food I can prepare.

My greatest inspiration: Personally my children are my biggest inspiration, the motivation they give me fills my life.  Professionally, Anthony Bourdain resonates with me to this day, and always will.  Ever since reading his book Kitchen Confidential in 2000, his unpretentious outlook on fine cuisine and culture shaped my creativity then and now.

What I like best about my job: Simple or complex, basically the ability to solve problems for people in foodservice.  Chances are I’ve been in the customer’s situation and most likely had the same questions at one time too.  So, using my knowledge and creativity from this side of the business to help is gratifying.

Chef Miguel AF Palmieri, CHI, CFE
Corporate Executive Chef
Memphis, Tennessee
BS Degree in Hotel & Culinary Administration, University of Nevada – Las Vegas

“Growing up as a first-generation American, I have been very fortunate to have been able to experience many different cultures beginning at a very young age. Having a father, whose parents moved from Italy to Argentina, and a mother who was born and educated in Sweden, there was never a lack of culinary excitement at our home!”

Why I became a chef: Both my parents had relatives in the hospitality and restaurant industries, and from a very young age, I enjoyed spending time in the hotels and kitchens and hearing all of the wonderful stories they had to tell.  Now as a professional chef, I feel it is the ultimate way to express who I am.

My Greatest Inspiration: Being personally chosen by Steve Wynn to be part of his opening management team for both The Mirage and Treasure Island in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

What I like best about my job: Every day is a new experience! The ability to work with and meet so many wonderful people, travel, spend time in the kitchen and help operators create new and exciting menu concepts. It’s the best of everything!

Chef Denis Picard
Corporate Executive Chef
Port Charlotte, Florida
Culinary Institue of America
National Servsafe exam writing committee, ACF National Chapter member
ACF Sarasota Bay Chefs, Servsafe Proctor/Instructor

“Those that know me would say my favorite ingredient is Grey Goose. I would say butter. Everything is a little better with butter.”

Why I became a chef: I began my career at a very early age; my parents were owners of several high volume family style restaurants. I spent most of my early years developing and learning the skills I still use today. So I’ve loved food from the start.

Favorite cookbook: What’s a cookbook? Just kidding, if pressed, I would say Larousse Gastronomique.

What I like best about my job: I like the interaction and the ability to offer on-trend, practical products that help support an operator’s success.

Chef Marisa Vieira
Corporate Executive Chef
San Diego, California
Grossmont College

“It all changed for me when I discovered Asian cuisine. The artistry of creating a dish with the sweet, salty, spicy and sour combo is truly magical.”

Why I became a chef: I have always been drawn to art and expressing myself creatively. I started experimenting with food at a young age and quickly fell in love with testing new flavor combinations and foods I had never seen or heard of before. Now, I love to share food experiences with those around me and how much the culinary world is constantly developing.

My greatest inspiration: Grant Achatz. The way he manipulates food and creates things you’ve never seen before is incredible. He’s challenging the norms of the culinary world and I’m loving every second of it.

What I like best about my job: I love the collaboration between myself and the rest of the culinary team. Bouncing ideas off each other and always learning and growing together and then sharing those ideas with the rest of our Waypoint team.

Chef Brian Zweigle
Corporate Executive Chef
Saint Johns, Florida
AA Degree in Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales
BA Degree in Food & Beverage Management, Florida International University

“I love to eat and grew up watching The Frugal Gourmet and Martin Yan on Yan Can Cook. As an avid athlete, cooking for myself was not only necessary to stay healthy but also a great creative outlet.”

Why I became a chef: I was already cooking for myself at a young age so when it was time to enter the workforce, I turned my passion into a career. Watching the likes of Emeril Lagasse, encouraged me to jump in as a culinary professional at a very young age and I’ve never looked back. Bam!

My greatest inspiration: Working with James Beard award-winning chef Anne Kearney as part of her opening staff at her original concept, fine dining restaurant Zazarac took me from line cook to chef. Chef Kearney’s unique take on the culinary arts and her extensive knowledge of food had a significant impact on my success in the kitchen and directly motivated my career.

What I like best about my job: I’ve worked all aspects of a restaurant both corporate and private, so I can go into almost any concept and help troubleshoot with extensive background knowledge. It’s extremely gratifying to use my decades of professional experience to improve the lives of our customers one delicious recipe at a time.