Chef David R. Blackmon R

For more than 25 years, David has worked as a professional chef in Chicago’s thriving restaurant scene. As Chef/Owner of Culinary Solutions Personal Event Chefs, he is been a personal chef for a number of professional athletes, entertainers and their families.

He is the Career Technical Education (CTE) Program Manager for Culinary Arts, Agriculture Science Education, Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology, Automotive Collision Repair, Manufacturing and Logistics programs. His CTE programs are exclusively offered in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Under David's direction, CPS students have earned nationally recognized industry-level certifications, as well as job placements, to help pay for college. But here is where David really gets things cooking... so to speak.  

To date, his Chicago Public Schools CTE students have received over $20 million in college scholarships and have earned over 7000 industry level certifications while in high school.

He has a passion for teaching his culinary craft to others and lives by his own motto: “Engage, Educate and Empower. There is nothing better than sharing your knowledge."

David enjoys spending his downtime with his wife and twin children. As an avid SCUBA Diver he enjoys sharing his underwater hobby and world travels with others.  He is currently working on his first cookbook entitled, “The Culinary Cupid.”  And yes, he does all the cooking at home.

A 10+year veteran in the culinary field, including Live Demos Culinary Classes, Restaurant Consulting and Private Luxury Events.

Chef Ricky Simpson, Jr. (AKA “Ricky the Chef”) is more than a triple threat being experienced in cooking, mixology (bartending), serving and overall hospitality. He surpasses most chefs today because of his ability to become whatever his clients are looking for. Ricky the Chef cannot be compared to anyone, partially because the training he has been through and the incredible vision he has for his food.

He has been inspired by a range of chefs from Paul Virant, Julius Russell, Jerome Brown, Bobby Flay, Richard Valente and Khamme. These chefs have played a pivotal role in the development of the chef he has become today as well as being inspiration to him; but his style stands in a class of its own. He is truly inspired by his craft of culinary arts!

Ricky the Chef has made culinary appearances at –the BMW PGA open, The Peninsula Hotel, Organic Private School meals, Health Care facilities, Private residence of Pro Athletes and more! FeaturedChef-2018 Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage cruise and Disney Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

Ricky is currently the Executive Chef/ Instructor at the Firehouse Arts Center providing culinary knowledge to underserved young men and women in the Lawndale area.


Chef Brian Alston

Chef Brian Alston is a professional chef for Xclusive Catering Chicago and has over 35 years of cooking experience.  Brian has traveled to many countries, while studying food and culture to enhance his culinary skills. He is partnered and active in many non-profit organizations throughout the city, performing healthy cooking demos for the American Heart Association, University of Chicago and the American Diabetes Expo.  As a private chef for hire, his reputation as led him to cook for many celebrities, including Jennifer Hudson, Marvin Sapp, Erica Campbell, CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Cheryl Underwood, Michael Jordan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to name a few. Chef Brian is on the move and rising as a true culinary star.

Chef Chloe Gould is often described as the “food translator”, for her amazing ability to introduce culturally diverse flavors into the most tried and true American dishes. She began her love for cooking at a very young age-- as she recalls, “being her Grandma’s prep cook”. By her teen years, she had already embarked on her professional journey of becoming a Chef, gaining hands-on training in the kitchen of the Chicago O’Hare Hilton Hotel.

Chloe would go on for formal culinary training at Johnson and Wales University, where she received an Associate’s in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor’s in Food Service Management. After graduation, Chloe joined the Manager Trainee Program in the culinary department of the Hyatt Hotel. After several years at the Hyatt, Chef G relocated back to Chicago directing her efforts and talent towards training young people in the Culinary Arts.

In 2014, Chef G moved to Singapore, where she taught western cuisine studies, at a well-known post-secondary school. Her time in Singapore was life changing being immersed in the culture and exposed to the true Asian Cuisine. She learned a great deal and was given opportunities to assist many world renowned chefs , including Chef Joan Roca and Chef David Thompson, during Asia’s 50 Best Summit.

While Singapore was both challenging and invigorating, Chef G cemented her culinary style and embraced her role as the “food translator”. With a strong Southern background and a great love for all Asian cuisine, Chef G prides herself on the creation of Southern-Asian fusion.

“Sweet & Savory” Mother and son duo dominating the world of culinary and pastry together with their all-around catering just for you. They are your sweet and your savory wrapped all in one for your party and

Hospitality needs, so you can relax and enjoy your guest.

With a passion and over 55 years of catering and restaurant experience combined, Stephanie and Chris strive to provide all the bells and whistles to make your event taste great.

Ms. Stephanie or “Mama Chris” most call her will wow you with her signature Shrimp & Grits and the crowd pleasing Asian Chicken Salad will have you begging for more.

Fresh from a molecular gastronomy internship in Madrid, Spain, Chef Chris and his Cakes and Pastries will have you telling your friends about his amazing treats that create the final wow factor at the end of a delicious upscale “Eclectic Soul” home cooked meal.

Chef Mi’cha’el D. Digby

When you hear “Digby” one of the first things Chicago people think about is CATFISH DIGBY’S. Before there was a Lawrence Fishery, J&J’s Fish, or Harold’s there was CATFISH DIGBY’S; a Chicago legend. When you ate there you always left happy, full and complete. That’s how Chef Mi’cha’el Digby feels when he is in the kitchen!! He has always had a love for food and he has turn that love into a career as a professional chef.

He started his culinary career at a very young age in the kitchen with his mother. Maybe it was to learn or just to lick the bowl after she poured her cake batter into the pan, ok… who are we fooling… It was both of those things!!

After graduating from Washburne Culinary Institute in 2012, Mi’cha’el found himself working as a sous chef on the “Wagyu Wagon” food truck. The “Wagyu Wagon” was the #1 most searched food truck in Chicago 2012-2014. Soon after, he left Chicago to attend Southern Illinois University Carbondale majoring in Hospitality and Tourism. While in Carbondale Mi’cha’el started his Personal Chef food service/ catering company “Digby’s Kitchen”, offering fellow students better options than the standard dorm cafeteria food. Returning to Chicago he spent most of his career working in fine dining restaurants and is currently working for Bon Appetit at the University of Chicago Campus. His cuisine is a twist of southern comfort, Caribbean flavors, and Spanish cooking technique food! So think of something like a fried jerked catfish paella!!!

Chef Ken L. Polk  had scarcely finished his training at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (now called Le Cordon Bleu Chicago) when he made his first move toward a long and fruitful culinary career, taking a position at Chicago’s OneSixtyBlue Restaurant.  For two years he helped establish OneSixtyBlue’s reputation as one of the nations most esteemed Modern-French kitchens before leaving in 1999 to expand his range. Taking a position at the flagship Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta, he trained under chefs from France, Italy, and around the globe. During this time he started providing his own cuisine to Atlanta’s discerning connoisseurs with Divine Inspirations Gourmet Services.

Two years later, Chef Polk moved back to his hometown Chicago, and worked in Corporate Dining with Aramark serving hundreds of people daily. After leaving corporate dining for more meaningful work, he began instructing the next generation of chefs at various Culinary Academies around Chicago with Chicago Public Schools, and Thornton Township. Polk was also an Adjunct Culinary Instructor with Le Cordon Bleu Chicago. As a lifelong learner, he received his M.B.A in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University. In his roles as Chef and Owner of Divine Inspirations, and Executive Chef of Batter & Berries in Lincoln Park. Chef Polk channels his passion for people, dining and culinary education into intimate dining, upscale events, and personalized culinary instruction across the country.

A second generation Chef and 28 years in the hospitality industry as well as a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Chicago Chef Darius has a plethora of experience and knowledge.  He has worked at many restaurants including St. Louis Bread Company as a training manager and assistant baker, Papa Del’s Italian Pizzeria, Meanwhile at the Ranalli’s Italian restaurant, Chef Darius develop a passion for Italian cuisine. He was also a public relations representative for the National Restaurant Association and a wine retailer for Pour it Again Sam Wine Co. He has interned for Wolfgang Puck Catering while working for Le Cordon Chicago as a Chef Presenter and mentor to numerous high school culinary students throughout the city. He was co-owner of the Jazz Café in Urbana, Illinois. His current venture partners him with Chef Ron Taylor of the Edgewater Hotel (Madison, Wis.) to form Windy City Chefs, a personal/private chef service.  In 2015 he went back into culinary education with the Illinois Institute of Arts College as a culinary specialist to work back with youth within the Chicago land area. Some of his favorite hobbies are photography, cooking for friends, and traveling. Chef Darius new venture is becoming a Culinary Educator in the South Suburban School System in the fall 2018.

With 24 years of culinary industry experience under his belt, this American Culinary Federation (ACF) certified chef was born to be a chef.

Chef Jones has worked in the kitchens at Charlie Trotter’s, Spiaggia, Orchestra Hall, Gordon Sinclair, the Fairmont Hotel and a number of private clubs.

His approach to his craft has been inspired by cuisine from Asia, Germany, Italy, South American, Mexico and the Caribbean.


Chef Ricky J. SimpsonR

Chef Brian AlstonR

Chef Chloe GouldR

Chef Stephanie McBlackwell

Pastry Chef Christopher Williams

Chef Mi'cha'el Digby

Chef Ken L. Polk

Chef Darius Bright

Chef Bill Jones