Meet the Guest Chefs of Food & Wine Festival 2018

May 21, 2018

Updated on May 25 to include more chefs featured at Food & Wine Festival.

Chef demonstrations return this year to Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival. Stop by one of our demo locations around the park to see professional chefs in action and receive a free bite-sized sample of their dish.

Aarti Sequeira, sixth season winner of Food Network Star and host of Aarti Paarti, will be joining us on June 3. She will present one of her signature dishes in Oktoberfest village, which will be featured later at select kiosks. She will also be available for a book signing.

About the Chefs

Aarti Sequeira of YouTube's Aarti Paarti

Aarti Sequeira, cooking show host and cookbook author, likes to joke that her love of food began in the womb (she was a 10 lb. baby) and shows no sign of abating.

Sequeira is a mainstay on Food Network, after winning season six of Food Network Star with her trademark combination of an infectious cackle and a unique food signature: American favorites with an Indian soul. Born in India, brought up in the Dubai and educated in a British school, Sequeira grew up against a varied tapestry of food cultures, from the homemade curries and flatbreads of her mother, to the spit-roasted shawarmas her family would enjoy every Friday.

In addition to hosting her own shows, Aarti Party and the travel show, Hidden Eats, she also serves as judge on hit shows like Guy’s Grocery Games, Cooks vs. Cons and Christmas Cookie Challenge. She also cooks alongside some of the best chefs in the country on the new show, Guy’s Ranch Kitchen. She co-hosted Drop 5 Lbs and has made numerous talking-head appearances on “Best Thing I Ever Ate”, “Best Thing I Ever Made” and “Unique Eats” on Cooking Channel. A seasoned competitor (or glutton for punishment!), she also won Chopped All-Stars, Cutthroat Kitchen All-Stars & Guy’s Grocery Games. Off-network, she has been a colorful, memorable repeat-guest on Today Show, CBS’ The Talk, Home and Family (Hallmark Channel) and Dr. Oz. She also penned a nationally-syndicated column for the Associated Press entitled “World’s Fare” in which she taught readers how to use ingredients in the international aisle in simple, weeknight dishes. A gifted writer, Sequeira published her first cookbook, Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul in 2014 (Grand Central).

We also welcome back Chef K to Food & Wine Festival. She is a Virginia local, known for her Williamsburg catering company, cookbooks and TV appearances.

Chef K at Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival

Chef K discovered her passion for food while growing up in a village outside of Torino, Italy with her mother. She spent a lot of time in the kitchen learning from generations of local Italian women. Admiring the dedication Italians put into their cooking, preparing every meal with only the freshest of ingredients, Chef K found her calling. Upon returning to the United States for college, Chef K began to study different cuisine. Starting as a prep cook at a gourmet resort in West Virginia, she worked her way up to Executive Chef. In 2004, she moved to Williamsburg, Va. where she started her own catering company, Classic Catering, which continues to operate today. After talking with many customers and friends over the years, she realized that the overall desire to eat healthier is often contradicted with the idea that low-fat foods lack flavor. With this insight, she created “Phat Taste! Little Fat!” offering favorite recipes with all the wonderful flavor and only a quarter of the fat. Chef K’s second cookbook “Chef K Goes to Yorktown Market Days” offers a compilation of healthy soups and salad recipes created specifically for the local Farmer’s Market in historic Yorktown, Virginia.

Chef K is devoted to supporting local programs that help Americans. Every copy of her first cookbook “Phat Taste! Little Fat” provides 24 meals to hungry Americans through the Feeding America Program. A percentage of the proceeds from “Chef K Goes to Yorktown Market Days” provides help for the Fisher House Foundation, supporting American military veterans and their families.

Chef K is Live on TV – “The Virginia This Morning Show” weekdays 9 am – 10 am on CBS 6 in Richmond, Virginia.

James Johnson at Food & Wine Festival

Chef James “JJ” Johnson is originally from Buffalo, NY. JJ considers himself a big foodie and can eat for two people, despite his size. His love and passion for food is what drove him to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts after leaving the Air Force. He recently graduated from ECPI Culinary Institute of Virginia in 2017. JJ enjoys spending time with friends and family (despite their constant requests for him to always grill the food). JJ enjoys putting together charcuterie boards, but his absolute favorite thing to do is cook Lasagna from scratch.

Peter Maran at Food & Wine Festival

Chef Peter Maran was born in Myanma (Burma), Asia and moved to the United States 18 years ago. Peter settled in Charleston, SC where he began working in a grocery store making American Style sushi. He worked as a sushi contractor in State College, PA, and then decided to make the move to California in 2002. Peter decided to move back to the North Carolina area in 2003 and started a franchise company. Peter and his wife, Roi, married in 2005 and moved to Williamsburg, VA shortly after. Peter and his wife have been with The Fresh Market since 2006. They live happily in Williamsburg with their daughter.

Jeff Lorah at Food & Wine Festival

Jeff Lorah began his culinary adventures 44 years ago. Jeff and his new wife came to an agreement that he would do the cooking and she would do the cleanup. Jeff didn’t know a lot about cooking, but definitely knew he did not like to clean the dishes. He considered this a winning agreement and took on the challenge.

The Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book became the go to in the Lorah household. Not only did it have lots of variety in recipes, it also had all of the instructions. To this day, the agreement Jeff and his wife made is still in place. Jeff’s wife now uses a dishwasher and Jeff uses the internet to search for new recipes. He considers himself an “at home cook” who loves to google the ingredients he has at home and get recipes in an instant.