2018 Speakers & Celebrities
John Gidding of TLC’s Trading Spaces
Born in Istanbul, Turkey to a Greek mother and an American father, Can Danny Gidding — pronounced “John” in Turkish— has been subjected to a world of byzantine influences since birth. Art and music were his earliest loves, and he was drawn to both while attending high school in Leysin, Switzerland. Afterwards, he majored in Architecture at Yale, received his Master’s in Architecture from Harvard's Graduate School of Design, and embarked upon a career as a designer on television, with shows on HGTV, ABC, FOX, Logo and currently on TLC's "Trading Spaces" where John has moved back into the field of art and art’s applications for interior design.
John has maintained a steady stream of sketchbooks since 1995, sketching whatever provokes his interest with the same skill, precision, and hand-written notes, that were used by illustrators before the age of photography and was taught to him in Leysin. He splits time between the USA where he lives, and Turkey and Europe where his family lives.
Appearing on the Inspiration Stage on Friday, September 28 at 6:00pm and Saturday, September 29 at 12:00pm and 3:00pm
Chef Kenny Gilbert of Top Chef
Chef Kenny Gilbert is best known for his appearance on “Top Chef” Season seven, where he was voted Fan Favorite. Throughout his career, Kenny has traveled the world, staging in some of the top restaurants in Japan, Spain, France and the Caribbean. He has cooked at the James Beard House, participated in wine & food festivals around the country, cooked for the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl party and appeared on the “Today Show,” “CBS Saturday Morning,” Jacksonville’s FOX 30, the LA Times, and as a contestant on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Beat Bobby Flay,” both of which he won. Kenny has cooked for the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Stedman Graham, Ava Duvernay and Jeff Bezos to name a few.
In March 2015, Kenny opened Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen in Fernandina Beach, FL with his wife Anna, serving seasonal deep southern cuisine, and in October 2016, the pair opened their second restaurant, Gilbert’s Social, in Jacksonville proper, serving seasonal and creative modern Southern fare with international influences.
This January, Kenny opened two new concepts - Gilbert’s Southern Kitchen & Bar and Gilbert’s Hot Chicken, Fish & Shrimp - on Jacksonville Beach focusing again on modernized yet traditional Southern fare.
Appearing on the I Know Jax Cooking Stage on Saturday, September 29 at 12:30pm
Chef Erika Cline of Top Chef Just Desserts
Over the past 25+ years, celebrated pastry chef Erika Cline has crafted some of the countries most scrumptious desserts and chocolates.
Cline was one of the original cheftestants on Bravo’s "Top Chef Just Desserts" in 2010. She won three competitions while receiving great acclaim from the "Top Chef" judges for her cookies and tequila bombs. She has been featured in the Huffington Post, the Pastry Arts Magazine, Afar Travel Magazine, Black Enterprise and others. Chef Erika has made numerous television cooking appearances and has served as a judge for the Food Network’s Rock N Roll Pastry Challenge.
Erika’s career started in Detroit Michigan as a pastry cook under the country’s first Master Chef Milos. From there, Chef Cline’s passion for the culinary arts spanned the countryside including renowned places like The Peabody Hotel in Memphis Tennessee and Ponte Vedra Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida. In July 2012, Erika opened and developed the chocolate program for Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau Bahamas. Also in the fall of 2012, Erika became one of a select few celebrity chefs to spokesperson “Sunday Dinner Chefs” for Publix Supermarkets showcasing holiday entrees and desserts for the holiday season.
Throughout the years, Chef Cline showcased her culinary talents at Epcot Food and Wine in Black EXPO located in several cities across the southeast United States and also.
In 2008, as a devotee of the pastry arts Chef Erika created a non-profit organization entitled Culinary Wonders USA. Culinary Wonders USA’s mission is to introduce, share, and cultivate the culinary arts to minorities. As president of CWUSA, Chef Erika believes that mentoring, scholarships, and volunteerism is a great avenue for providing direction in the culinary world.
While living the life of pastries across the country and Caribbean, she has supported various charity events such as The Kidney Foundation (Memphis Tennessee), Sulzbacher Center & Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Heritage Center (Jacksonville, Florida), Food as Art, the United Negro
College Fund (Seattle Washington) where she has raised over $36,000 over the last 5 years by auctioning her desserts for the beloved charity, The Service Board (Seattle Washington) and Minority Chef Summit 2014 (Nassau Bahamas) (Port au Prince, Haiti 2015) and (Tortola BVI 2017).
In 2015, Chef Erika married Chef Neil Cline where she worked along side him and also opened a chocolate boutique named Bleu Chocolat. Now after the hurricanes in fall of 2017, Chef Erika is rebuilding her chocolate brand in Jacksonville, Florida and with much support she will reopen in the BVI.
Appearing on the I Know Jax Cooking Stage on Friday, September 28 at 2:30pm