Chef Talent Bios

Read more about the talented chefs behind the scenes and on the stage at the Taste of St. Louis.

VITO RACANELLI
Executive Chef, Culinary Innovation, Anheuser-Busch

Vito Racanelli is the executive chef of The Taste of St. Louis, managing the culinary stage and the Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale culinary battles

He also heads up the Culinary Innovation team for Anheuser-Busch, giving him the opportunity to work alongside some of the best chefs in the United States. He also spends time regularly collaborating with culinary schools, where he teaches about the fundamentals of beer and beer pairings and also teaches Italian and pasta-making classes.

Chef Racanelli’s passion is to cook with fresh, local ingredients. He is a lifetime member of Slow Foods and committed to artisan producers and small farmers. His love for food is apparent in the artistic, inspired dishes that he creates. A native New Yorker, Racanelli is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island and has been cooking for more than 25 years. Chef Racanelli has worked in AAA five star and Michelin stared restaurants and hotels in New York City. Early in his career Vito spent time in Italy studying his family roots and learning about Italian culture and food.

He has a fun, passionate, kind-hearted attitude. “I love food; it is so much of my life and soul.” Vito most recently had a 4-year run as the chef-owner of Mad Tomato in Clayton, MO. Before that, he was chef owner of Big V's in the Loop and Onesto in St. Louis City.

Racanelli has been voted one of Sauce Magazine’s Best St. Louis Chefs and 2013 Best Chefs America. Chef Racanelli has received numerous awards for his former Restaurants, including: St. Louis Magazine's Best New RestaurantRiverfront Times' Best Italian RestaurantSauce Magazine's Favorite Italian Restaurant, and Alive Magazine's Best New Restaurant. Racanelli has also been nominated by his peers and chosen to be published in the book, Best Chefs America.

Racanelli and his wife Amy share a passion for cooking and travel. They are both involved in the planning of a vocational cooking school in Guatemala with the organization "Send Me".
 

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CHEF CHRISTIAN GULLET

Chef Christian Gullet has been on the Culinary Team for the Taste of St. Louis for several years. He helps coordinate the culinary needs for the Stella Artois Culinary Stage, the Commissary Kitchen and the VIP.  He currently leads the innovative culinary team at Lutheran Senior Services at Mason Pointe. Originally from Memphis, where he discovered his passion for food working at Southern staple restaurants and learning what “from scratch cooking” really means, he pursued his culinary education at the renowned culinary program at Forest Park in St. Louis.  He completed his apprenticeship at Greenbriar Hills Country Club and made his entry as an Executive Chef in Hotels such as Starwood’s and Hilton’s throughout St. Louis.

He was recently with Sodexo at SSM DePaul Health Center and was the Culinary Champion for the system before joining this dynamic team, where he was instrumental in developing and leading Culinary Foundations training for the team of associates in St. Louis and Oklahoma, he continues to lead his kitchen in phenomenal culinary execution and training.

Chef Gullet is a seasoned talent with all-encompassing experience in the culinary arena, and committed to ensuring a fantastic food experience for all of his Residents and guests.

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CHEF CASEY E. SHILLER, CEPC, CCE, AAC 

Certified Executive Pastry Chef, Certified Culinary Educator, member of the American Academy of Chefs, and  Executive Pastry Chef and Program Coordinator of Baking and Pastry Arts for St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

Chef Shiller has been a great asset to the Taste team – assisting in the coordination and hosting of the Stella Artois Culinary stage and Chef Battle Royale.

In June, 2011, Chef Shiller was the winning contestant on the nationally-broadcast Television Food Network program, Cupcake Wars, and was featured on the program in January, 2012, in a “Battle of the Champions” episode. Shiller made his third appearance on Cupcake Wars, and was victorious once again, in May, 2013. Shiller is a frequent guest on several St. Louis-based television programs including Show Me St. Louis, Great Day St. Louis, and starred on the primetime television program, Great Day Cooks. In 2012, Shiller was a producer for the KMOV television program, Ready, Chef, Go! Shiller is also seen regularly on the NBC affiliate, KSDK; the CBS affiliate, KMOV; and the FOX affiliate, KTVI, as a guest chef on weekday news programming. 

Chef Shiller's other honors include the American Culinary Federation’s National Chef Educator of the Year in 2012, the 2013 St. Louis Chef of the Year, Teacher of the Year for St. Louis Community College Forest Park in 2010, and recipient of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Award in 2011. 

Since graduating with honors from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a Bachelors of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts, Shiller's career has allowed him to experience many prestigious properties including the Trump Plaza Hotel-Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Hotel-Casino, and the Trump Worlds Fair Hotel-Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey; The Sagamore Resort near Lake George, New York; The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island near Jacksonville, Florida; Ristorante Cantare, in Chicago, Illinois; the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, and the Boeing Leadership Center in St. Louis.

Shiller was named one of the “Top 10 Rising Star Pastry Chefs 2000,” by Chocolates a la Carte and was featured in Pastry Art and Design and Food Arts magazines. Shiller has also earned several gold and silver medals for his chocolate sculptures and plated dessert displays at the New York Food Show.  Shiller is a national judge for the Skills USA Commercial Baking Competition, and serves as an adjudicator for many local, state, and national culinary competitions.

Shiller has been featured in two textbooks on baking and pastry, On Baking, and About Professional Baking. Shiller has been featured in magazines including Food Arts, Pastry Art & Design, National Culinary Review, and Sizzle.  Shiller conceived and directed the live theatrical stage programming of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Celebrity Chef Series, in Miami, Florida, featuring prominent chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, Jacques Pepin, Emeril Lagasse, Alton Brown, Tom Collichio, Daisy Martinez, Ingrid Hoffman, and Eric Ripert.  

Shiller’s extensive community volunteerism focuses on the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation, the American Culinary Federation, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation. Shiller, and his wife Anne, enjoy travelling, attending theater, and are avid St. Louis Blues ice hockey fans. They welcomed a daughter, Allison Hope, into the world in May, 2016.

 

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CHEF MARTIN LOPEZ

Professional Chef, Food Writer, Blogger and Culinary Journalist, Published Author, Culinary Ambassador for the Hispanic Community, TV Personality and Host.

Chef Martin has been an inspiration and has supported the event for many years... we are very lucky to have him on the team!

Born in Mexico City by a hardworking, dedicated Mother, the versatility of ingredients were shown to Martin at an early stage. At seven years old, he was already part of the kitchen household responsibilities and showing his passion for cooking. Having three brothers and three sisters made a large family and with Mexican European traditions, needless to say there was a lot of cooking involved. It is no surprise that Chef Martin fell in love with the art of cooking from a very early age.

In 1988 Chef Martin graduated in Mexico City from Escuela International de Idiomas with emphasis on tourism and languages. In 1989, he went to New England Culinary Institute to obtain his associate’s degree in Culinary Arts. After travels to Europe, Mexico, and South America, Chef Martin has created an array of dishes of multicultural cuisines, and started to combine ingredients from all around the world to create pieces that now all of us are more accustomed to. His background and his love of art, along with his cooking, married into what he calls now Mexican Novelle, a cuisine with European undertones.

In 2009 Chef Martin was the founder of ChefMartin.Net developing this nonprofit site to share his feelings and passion about his cooking and the community. He now has thousands of followers on Facebook, twitter and his website, as he continues to cook, write, document, develop recipes, concepts and share his passion for his cooking and food trends. He is often seen on TV shows, live public presentations and radio around the country including CBS, FOX, and ABC. Teaming up with top restaurateurs from around the country such as recently in 2013, Chef Martin and Richard Nix from St Louis Mo, owner of Butler’s Pantry and Bixby’s at the City History Museum, created one of the newest, most delicious spots in the country, with a new concept in an Italian bakery called “Piccione Pastry”. 

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SAM NIEMANN
Corporate Chef, Anheuser-Busch

Chef Niemann is part of the Culinary Committee at Taste that helps orchestrate culinary entertainment and is also one of the judges for the Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Chef Sam Niemann recognized his passion for the Culinary World at an early age. He studied the Culinary Arts at Forest Park Community College. Then he attended the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, for additional training where he learned his own unique style.  Sam continued his career at exclusive restaurants and Country Clubs, such as St. Louis Country Club and The Bogey Club.

Over the years Sam worked under influential Chefs of the St. Louis Culinary Profession, who helped shape his knowledge and style. He accepted the position of Executive Chef with Anheuser-Busch in 1993. Chef Sam was hired to manage and bring fresh new ideas to the Executive Dining Room. His philosophy and passion reflects the growing trend towards a healthier and down to earth lifestyle. Working with the finest beers and the best regional products available is the essence of Sam’s cuisine, allowing the natural flavors of the food, enhanced by quality beers to express themselves.

Sam has played a major role in food and beer pairing events, recipe development and building relationships with customers.  He is proud to say that several of his recipes have been published.  Sam is still part of a great team and as long as we keep brewing great beer, he will continue creating great recipes.
 

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CHEF GEORGIOS KASTANIAS

Georgios Kastanias grew up Greek in Africa. His passion for cooking first started at the age of 5, while watching his mother in the kitchen. He decided to be a chef at the age of 15 and after high school, he completed and graduated from four different culinary schools in Greece, Switzerland, France and Italy. Georgios traveled and cooked for many resorts and gourmet restaurants in Europe and Northern Africa. Twelve years ago Kastanias decided to continue his career in The United States, becoming the executive chef at a distinguished ethnic greek restaurant in North Carolina. Georgios has opened his own restaurants in North Carolina and Tennessee. He's competed in cooking competitions and won gold medals while living in the U.S. In 2012, he moved to St. Louis and has already begun to make a mark on the culinary scene. He's had the title of executive chef consultant at several restaurants, and currently resides as the executive chef and sales executive for a local family owned food distribution group, Moore Food. He is also the specialist for the greek and Mediterranean products of the company. 

Georgios also has a cooking show on KTVI every Saturday morning. He is a key member of the Taste team who feeds the staff all weekend and is also one of the chefs for the Stella Artois Culinary Stage VIP at the Taste of St. Louis.