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Meet the Nominees

Peter Darves-Bornoz – Josie’s Table

Chef Peter Darves-Bornoz’s culinary journey began at home, watching his father, who is a successful chef and restauranteur. Raised in a family where French heritage and traditions ran deep, Chef Darves learned, like his father, that cooking was more than just a hobby and became fascinated by all things related to food and the restaurant world early on.

As a teenager, Chef Darves grew up helping with the family business, working catering events, washing dishes, and doing odd jobs with Unique Catering, Milano Restaurant, and Provence Restaurant.

Chef Darves attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where he graduated in 2010. With culinary knowledge in his head and a diploma in hand, he headed to New York City, where he worked with legendary Chef Floyd Cardoz at North End Grill in Battery Park. Winner of Top Chef Masters, Chef Floyd Cardoz was one of the greatest chefs he has had the pleasure of working with. It was there that he learned the importance of quality ingredients and true technique. Chef Cardoz was an amazing chef and a significant mentor in his life.

In 2014, Chef Darves moved back to Albany, New York, where he was appointed Sous Chef at Milano Restaurant. He moved up the culinary ladder and, a few years later, was appointed Executive Chef.

In 2020, Chef Darves and his father, with inspiration from the late Chef Cardoz, developed the concept for Josie’s Table. The restaurant pays homage to Chef Darves’ grandmother, Josie. He grew up observing his grandmother cook incredible meals, using produce from his grandfather’s garden. Josie’s Table offers guests an innovative interpretation of modern American cuisine, using local, organic ingredients wherever possible. As the Executive Chef, he is continuously striving to build upon his vision of providing exemplary dishes while also encouraging a rewarding team environment for his staff.

Noah Frese – The Roosevelt Room

Chef Noah Frese is a 2nd generation chef from Albany, NY. Noah began cooking at the early age of 10 years old and never looked back. He moved to NYC out of high school and put himself through the International Culinary Center in Tribeca, Manhattan where he learned classic French cuisine. From there he gained experience under master chef Daniel Boulud which then led him to Charlotte, North Carolina where he quickly became a Head Chef for Barcelona Wine Bar; which took on a new challenge of mastering a tapas style restaurant. Noah returned home to open The Roosevelt Room, to showcase the culmination of his experience and unique style. Chef Noah’s goal is to bring a fine dining experience like you would get any other capital city in the world.

Tyikea McLean – Daleys on Yates

My name is Tyikea Mclean I am 26 years old, and I have been in the industry for about 8 years, fine dining for almost 5 of those years. I grew up in Schenectady, NY. I started cooking around 10-11 years old out of necessity because I had to basically raise my siblings. Cooking was a hobby for me until I was in about 15-16 years old when I realized I didn’t want to follow in the family tradition and become a medical professional. It was the end of my sophomore year when I realized I wanted to make this career, so I decided I was going to major in culinary arts when I went to college. I spent my first year at SUNY Cobleskill, due to unfortunate circumstances I couldn’t finish and ended up taking a gap year. After my gap year I started classes at SUNY Schenectady, I graduated from SUNY with my AOS in culinary arts and an AAS in Hotel and Restaurant Management. During my two years in the program, I was apart of the hot foods team, and I also competed solo in the Jeune Chef Rotisseurs competition twice.

However, that is not why I love to cook, I love to cook because the kitchen brings me peace. I can be myself when I’m in the kitchen. I did whatever it took to further my technique and expand my knowledge. While I may not have worked in many high-end restaurants, every place I worked at shaped me to become the chef I am today. Whether it be Auntie Anne’s, which was one of my first management jobs, I was young, just under 21, and it taught me how managing is more than just telling people what to do. Or whether it be Red Lobster which taught me how to work and run a line and how to deal with fast paced service. Furthermore, I even went abroad to Italy to study under well renowned chefs and that experience is the best experience I have ever had. Everything I do, I do to further my career and my craft. All these things have helped me become the chef I am today.

A little about my current job; I am currently the head chef at Daley’s on Yates in downtown Schenectady. Daley’s on Yates is just one of the many establishments under the Daley Hospitality Group, which include Crooked Lake, Old Daley Inn, and their newest addition, The Delaware. When I first started working at Daley’s I was a prep cook/dishwasher and slowly worked my up to a line cook. I worked my way through the line and was trained under Chef Elliot Vogel to be the sous chef. I became the head chef once Chef Elliot moved on to other projects, The Delaware being one of them. I am honored to be nominated for Rising Star Chefs and I can’t wait to show people why I was nominated and why I deserve to be in the position that I am in.

Michelle Montini – Nicole’s Restaurant

I am Michelle Patricia Montini, and my passion for cooking has been a lifelong dream. Ever since I was young, my grandmothers have inspired me, and my love for food has only grown. Watching the Food Network helped nurture my aspirations, guiding me towards a culinary career. After graduating from Ravena Coeymans Selkirk High School, I was awarded a scholarship to Paul Smiths College, where I obtained my associate and bachelor’s degrees. There, I had the privilege of learning from some incredibly talented chefs and educators.

Throughout my college years, I sought to gain as much practical experience as possible, working in various restaurants during both the school term and summers. My roles ranged from bussing tables at Red’s Restaurant in Coxsackie to crafting pizzas at Bellini’s in Slingerlands and baking bread at Simply Gourmet in Lake Placid. These experiences broadened my culinary horizons alongside my formal education.

Following my graduation, I embarked on a seven-year journey with 677 Prime and Mazzone Hospitality, where I had the opportunity to participate in diverse events and activities, immersing myself in the local restaurant community. Subsequently, I spent five years as an Assistant Kitchen Manager at Barnsider Restaurant in Colonie, where I honed my skills in team management and delegation. Amidst the challanges brought by the pandemic, I seized the opportunity to work as a sous chef at Toro Cantina, allowing me to delve into a cuisine that initially was unfamiliar to me. Driven by my thirst for knowledge and experience, I welcomed the chance to expand my expertise.

Currently, I proudly serve as the executive chef at Nicole’s Restaurant in Albany, my first role in such a position. Nicole’s Restaurant is linked to Nicole’s Catering, enabling me to explore a different facet of the industry, which has proven to be both enlightening and rewarding. My time at Nicole’s has allowed me to unleash my creativity, fostering a newfound confidence in my culinary vision for the future.

I am thrilled to be nominated for the Rising Star Chef Award, as it serves as a testament to the relentless dedication I have poured into this incredible industry. This experience is yet another milestone in my journey, and I am deeply grateful and honored to be considered.

Matt Machlowski – the Fort Orange Club

Born and raised in the Capital Region Matt entered culinary school in 2007 and knew he had found the career for him. He learned the ins and outs and ups and downs of the industry while working at the Albany Pump Station. After years of working in both the front and back of house in a high volume hot- spot in the downtown area he needed a change. Matt moved to the Fort Orange Club for a chance to emphasize quality over quantity. As the Executive Sous Chef he has that chance. In the process he gained a reputation for his slow cooked meats and homemade ice cream. He stresses the importance of every plate being exactly how you would want it to be served to you and he hopes to do so for many more years to come.

Gabriel Moya – Restaurant 605

No formal training, I started working when I was 14 years old at the 2 Cousins fish market, since then I’m 35 now with over 20 years in the industry. After high school I went college in Boston and worked at the Langham Hotel, after graduating I got offered a full time job and promotion. Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles. When I got to La I worked a bunch of part time jobs including working for Eric Greenspan, I also worked as a training staff member to open the first Shake Shack in CA. After that I worked as a FOH manger for Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at their Pasadena location. Restaurant 605 was opened a year and half ago, in the first year we got voted as finalist in the 3 categories for the Best of the capital region including best local restaurant, best restaurant to open in the last year and best hamburger.

Michael Plewinski – 677 Prime

Michael didn’t always know that he wanted to cook or even loved food. In fact his life took him in a different direction when he joined the Marine Corp. Oddly enough, it was during his time serving his country that the seeds of his love of cooking were planted. It started out as a simple hobby, but soon began to become a passion. After leaving the Marines in 2019, he decided to start his career as a cook, working at Johnny’s in Schenectady and absorbing as much as he could about the food and the business. After a year there, he decided that he needed to move on to learn and grow, and that is when he started at 677 Prime. In his time at 677 he has grown tremendously, both as a cook and a leader. He has learned all the stations in the kitchen and made himself into a valuable member of our team and we are very proud to have him with us going into the future. He has shown his culinary prowess as our Executive Sous Chef for the past year and continues to grow and inspire our younger cooks. Though his background was in Italian cuisine, he is especially enamored with the cuisines of Provence and Spain.

Dylon Ruiz – Albany Ale & Oyster

From an early age Chef Dylan has always found food fascinating. As a kid, he’d spend afternoons watching the likes of Emeril Lagasse and Alton Brown on the Food Network wanting to smell and taste everything he saw. As an adult, he got his start in a small, mom and pop mac & cheese restaurant. Working alongside the owners, he got his first taste of the kitchen and beginning his appreciation for small businesses. Chef Dylan then moved on to work at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York to train, gain fine dining experience and hone his skills in a large operation setting. After some time and feeling a want to get back to smaller kitchens, he’d move on to be part of Liberty Street Bistro in Newburgh, New York upon their opening and lead their pasta program. Moving his way up the ladder and always striving to be better, he soon found himself as the sous chef at the bistro, creating great dishes with emphasis on local produce from the Hudson Valley. He’d continue to grow as a chef, finding himself working various operations, both large and small across the spectrum of different kitchen settings such as private dinners, fine dining, catering and even teaching pasta and pizza classes. With deep love and care for food, local produce and the incredible farmers that help keep our stomachs full, Chef Dylan continues to be eager to learn and work alongside community growers and makers to create a simple, beautiful dishes and hopefully pass along that same appreciation for the things and people that keep us all fed and nourished.

Stacy Tecler – Stacy’s Scratch Kitchen

Stacy Tecler is an accomplished chef with a deep-rooted passion for cooking that traces back through generations of her family. Born and raised in Albany, New York, Stacy’s culinary journey began with her grandparents, who opened a diner in the Capital District in the 1960s. Through her grandparent’s Stacy learned the invaluable recipes passed down.

Stacy’s culinary heritage didn’t end there. Her father dedicated three decades of his life to the art of baking, honing his skills at the renowned Freihofer’s Bakery. In addition, her grandfather owned a successful bakery in Syracuse, New York, and her Uncle Louie made his mark as a skilled Butcher. Surrounded by a family deeply ingrained in the food industry, Stacy’s passion only grew stronger.

After graduating from Russell Sage College with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, Stacy, alongside her mother Judy, embarked on a new culinary adventure. They opened Deli J&S Old Country Store, situated on Sacandaga Lake. This endeavor allowed Stacy to further explore her family’s treasured recipes and showcase her own innovative flair in the kitchen.

In 2016, Stacy relocated to Saratoga Springs, New York. There, she joined Dock Brown’s Lakeside Tavern as an Executive Chef. Drawing inspiration from her rich family heritage, Stacy incorporated her unique culinary creations, captivating the taste buds of patrons and earning widespread buzz.

Stacy’s entrepreneurial spirit called her to pursue her long-cherished dream of owning a food truck. Driven by a desire to revolutionize the street food scene, she launched Stacy’s Scratch Kitchen. For an entire year, her food truck offered high-quality dishes that delighted customers and left them longing for more.

The resounding success of Stacy’s Scratch Kitchen led to an outpouring of requests from eager customers to find a year-round location. Responding to their demand, Stacy set her sights on a new venture. Seizing the opportunity, she acquired a restaurant in Broadalbin, New York; Stacy’s Scratch Kitchen is set to open its doors in June.

Her Americana-inspired menu will pay homage to the rich tapestry of flavors that define American cuisine, all elevated with her unique twist and commitment to using only the finest ingredients. Anticipating a warm and inviting ambiance, Stacy’s Scratch restaurant promises to offer home style meals without the twists and turns by providing wholesome, quality dishes where patrons can gather and indulge. Stacy continues to redefine the culinary landscape and leave an indelible mark on the hearts and taste buds of all who experience her extraordinary creations.

Joe Friedel – Dotty Lou’s BBQ

Hudson Valley native Joseph Friedel, credits his parents for his love of making food for others. His initial entrance into the hospitality industry started at the world famous Wellfleet Beachcomber. He has continued to grow in the craft through management positions throughout the Hudson Valley and Capital Region from formal dining, to fast casual, even to start up brewery operations. He is passionate about creating exciting and delicious dishes while maintaining a warm and superior guest experience.