Keynote Speakers

David Burke

Celebrity Chef - Partner, Drifthouse by David Burke Bar and Grill

Blurring the lines between chef, artist, entrepreneur and inventor, world-renowned Chef David Burke is one of the leading pioneers in American cooking today. His fascination with ingredients and the art of the meal has fueled a thirty-year career marked by creativity, critical acclaim and the introduction of revolutionary products and cooking techniques.


A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a student at Ecole Lenotre Pastry School in Plaisir, France. Burke worked with legendary chefs in France and New York such as Pierre Troisgros, George Blanc, Marc Meneau, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Palmer and Waldy Malouf.  Burke’s mastery of French culinary technique and his unique American creativity were confirmed at the age of 26, receiving 3 Stars from the New York Times at the River Café. Burke was then chosen by his peers to represent the USA at The International Culinary Competition and won France’s coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur.  The only American to ever achieve this honor. Burke also won the Nippon Award for Excellence from the government of Japan, for overall skill and technique. Burke remained Executive Chef at the River Café till 1992.


In 1992, Burke opened the critically acclaimed Park Avenue Café with Smith & Wollensky CEO Alan Stillman, and in 1996, he became vice president of culinary development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group.  In 2003, Burke branched out on his own to start his first ever proprietary and highly praised restaurant, davidburke & donatella. Throughout the past twenty years, Burke’s wide-ranging and innovative restaurant concepts have included david burke townhouse, David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, Fishtail by David Burke, and David Burke Kitchen (NYC); David Burke Fromagerie (Rumson, NJ); David Burke’s Primehouse (Chicago); David Burke Las Vegas (Las Vegas); and David Burke Prime (Foxwoods, CT).  In 2015, Burke joined forces with ESquared Hospitality, the BLT restaurant brand, as a culinary partner, spearheading innovative culinary development and overseeing new projects for the group. In 2016, they opened BLT Prime by David Burke in Washington DC and Tavern 62 by David Burke in NYC. In 2018, Burke has launched the David Burke Catering Company, and David Burke & Company Consulting, as a Culinary partner in several new ventures launching nationwide this Spring.


Burke has been honored with Japan’s Nippon Award of Excellence, the Robert Mondavi Award of Excellence and the CIA’s August Escoffier Award. Nation’s Restaurant News named Burke one of the 50 Top R&D Culinarians and Time Out New York named him the “Best Culinary Prankster” in 2003. In May 2009, the James Beard Foundation inducted Burke into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and Nation’s Restaurant News presented him with the Menu Masters award, naming him one of the nation’s most celebrated culinary innovators.  In February 2012, Burke was honored by the culinary school at Johnson & Wales University with the Distinguished Visiting Chef Award, which is given to the world’s most influential and celebrated chefs. In November 2012, he was named Restaurateur of the Year by the New Jersey Restaurant Association. In the same month, he was honored with a Concierge Choice Award, celebrating the elite in New York City hospitality, winning the best chef award. And in 2013, the David Burke Group was recognized by Restaurant Hospitality magazine as having one of the “Coolest Multi-concept Companies in the Land,” a nod to Burke’s many original and enviable restaurant concepts.


As a culinary pioneer, Burke’s innovations and revolutionizing techniques appear on menus all over the world, including Pastrami Salmon (now available through Acme Smoked Fish), flavored oils and tuna tartare, Gourmet Pops, ready-to-serve cheesecake lollipops. Additionally, Burke is actively involved with culinology, an approach to food that blends the culinary arts and food technology. In 2011, Burke received the ultimate honor presented to inventors: a United States patent. It was awarded to him for the unique process by which he uses pink Himalayan salt to dry-age his steaks for up to 100 days and led to the citing of David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago as the number one steakhouse in Chicago and the United States.


Over the years, Chef Burke has become one of the most recognized chefs on television, including appearances on Top Chef Masters, the Rachael Ray show, NBC’s TODAY Show, Fox and Friends, Bloomberg’s small-business television series The Mentor, Elvis Duran and the Moring Show, and more. In addition, Burke has published two cookbooks, Cooking with David Burke (1999) and David Burke’s New American Classics (2006) co-written by Judith Choate.

Paul Dillon

Associate Dean, Business, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, Hudson County Community College

Paul, A graduate of Florida International University in 1978 began his career in education as faculty at Hudson County Community College in fall of 1984. Presently, he is Associate Dean of Business, Culinary Arts, and Hospitality Management at HCCC

Prior to joining the education community, Paul worked for many major corporations in on both the east and west coast. He worked for corporations such as Longchamps Inc., Host International, the Orange Bowl Corporation, Restaurant Associates, and ISL International.

Furthermore, he has been a consulting chef for a myriad of national and international venues for public and corporate clients. His notable clients or venues include: the 1994 World Cup, the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France and several PGA and USGA golf tournaments. During his tenure at HCCC, Paul served as host and executive producer for a cooking show called “Let’s Cook with Paul Dillon”. This show aired for 11 seasons to over 11 million homes on CN8, “The Comcast Network”. Paul was awarded a total of eight Telly Awards for his efforts with the show. Additionally, Paul received three Emmy Award nominations in the “Best Host” category and subsequently went on to win an Mid Atlantic Emmy  as “Outstanding Host”.