Forest-to-Mansion: About the Chefs
Alisa DeMarco – 1st Course
Chef Alisa DeMarco led the kitchen at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery for 8 years, where her farm dinners and breakfasts earned her a reputation for outstanding local and seasonal cuisine. Alisa learned the pleasures of eating locally at an early age, helping her mom in the garden, fishing for dinner in the river behind her house, foraging for mushrooms with her grandmother, raising her own laying hens and eating beef raised by the neighbors across the road. Her formal training at the Culinary Institute of America solidified her beliefs in seeking out the best ingredients and forming relationships with local farmers and artisans in order to do so. Alisa lives in Savoy with her husband Jeff and their son Cole. She enjoys gardening, yoga, music and anything and everything involving food and wine.
Drew Starkey – 2nd Course
Drew Starkey is the Chef/ Owner of Bacaro, which is a high end restaurant located in downtown Champaign. Chef Drew, who has been cooking for more than 14 years, is committed and passionate about using fresh local produce and meats provided by area farmers.
Ann Swanson – 3rd Course
Ann Swanson is the founder and Director of Operations at Hendrick House Farms. Hendrick House Farms consists of a three-acre vegetable farm, hydroponic facility and 1,000 sq/ft urban rooftop herb garden. Ann is a trained chef and spent the majority of her career in South Carolina, where she found her passion for farm to table cuisine. She is now committed to providing and educating students, cooks and the community on the importance of fresh, locally grown food.
Adam Shallenberger – 4th Course
Awarded Chef Adam Shallenberger is as local as they come. Raised in central Illinois and graduating from Mahomet Seymour High School, he returned home with his culinary finesse in 2013. A Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta alum, he honed his skill working in kitchens from Savannah, GA to Fort Worth, Texas. At Ellerbe Fine Foods serving as sous chef he helped achieve the Bon Apetit award of one of the Top Ten Best New Restaurants opened in America in 2010. He met his lovely fiancé, Madeleine, in Texas and they have a precious 5 year old son, Miles. Coming “home” and bringing the skills with it, he was the executive chef at 3 established local restaurants. Most recently he opened and was executive chef and General manager to V. Picasso. While there he participated in numerous charity events, winning the Central Illinois Artisans Cup, a fundraiser for The Land Connection. His style can be defined as southern comfort with bold flavors and unique ingredients. His next move has been to transition from the brick and mortar grind to his brand new food truck, FIRED, coming to Champaign this April. Be on the look out for his latest conquest and be surprised by the integrity of locally sourced and creative street food.
Mark “Shades” Hartstein – 5th Course
Mark “Shades” Hartstein projects include “Shady Dawgs,” a mobile hotdog and sausage cart; “Saru Ramen,” an infrequent ramen pop-up; “The Urbana Pickle Project,” a private larder club; and (partnered with Leslie Bettridge) “CuSP: Champaign Urbana Smørrebrød Project,” a Danish sandwich pop-up to raise funds for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. He is currently the chef/owner of Watson’s Shack & Rail. Stay tuned for the next adventure.