Vinny Calandra, CCE

Vinny was born and raised in Buffalo, New York and started his culinary career as a busboy at the prestigious Park Lane. After completing his High School and College education he continued his employment in the foodservice industry. In 1978, after some long hard winters, Vinny along with his wife Maryann and daughter Nancy moved to Safety Harbor Florida. Once settled, he continued working in notable food service venues. In 1986 he began his chef/educator journey with Pinellas County Schools, at the then PVTI (now Pinellas Technical College) as a chef, and advanced to Department Chairperson in 1990. During his tenure, he taught and advised students who desired employment as chefs, restaurant managers, food sales consultant, and educators. Additionally, he was a board member for the Florida Restaurant Association (Pinellas chapter) PRO START, Pinellas County, and the Ryan Wells Foundation. As a certified chef, Vinny became involved with the American Culinary Federation serving on the board of the local chapter. His educational background continued after his retirement in 2006. On a part-time basis, he now leads accreditation teams for the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation and travels to those colleges and schools seeking accreditation around the US.

In their spare time, he and Maryann enjoy frequent travels to Europe and visiting Orlando where their daughter Nancy, son in law, Paul and grandchildren, Jaxon and Christina reside.  Contact Vince at 727-741-0201.

Ray Benton

My culinary career has spanned many different areas of the food service field. I owned 4 restaurants in Springfield, Illinois, 2 pizza restaurants, a donut shop and a full-service restaurant one block from the state capitol building. I moved to New Port Richey in 1984 and immediately got a job as the executive chef of the Brown Derby Restaurant chain. From there I traveled the state as their corporate chef for 3 years. In 1988 I got a job traveling for Morrison’s chain of restaurants as their trainer for all their chefs around the state. In 1991 when the program was canceled, I got a job with All Children’ Hospital in St. Petersburg as their executive chef in charge of the 40 person kitchen feeding sick children and all the employees in the cafeteria. Feeding 2500 employees a day made that facility a food factory. From there when they changed food service companies I went to work as a food broker for a Clearwater company, that, by far, was my most favorite job. I did that for six years and then retired. Now I volunteer in the Pasco County schools teaching elementary school children to make better food choices in the cafeteria and at home. Call me if you need to talk about any of the above-mentioned career possibilities at 727-858-9166, and I wish you good luck in your career choice

Kareen “Coco” Linton 

kareenlinton.chefcoco@gmail.com

Kareen Linton was born on the island of Barbados and was raised in Brooklyn, New York from the age of nine. She is the Founder and CEO of A Dash of Coco LLC. based in downtown, Tampa. The company brings the worlds of food and fashion together. She is currently developing a line of food products and clothing. Kareen also mentors’ teenagers in a juvenile program at TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, (Les Peters Academy) in Tampa and also sits on the Community Advisory Board for the Les Peters Academy.

Her experience spans over 30 years in hospitality, fashion, entertainment and culinary education. She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and was also an educator at her alma mater. She was the fashion designer and stylist for celebrities such as LL Cool J and Music Producer Teddy Riley just to name a few. Kareen is also currently a Chef Educator at Escoffier School of Culinary Arts online.

Most recently, Kareen was selected by the global committee of GFEL, (Global Forum for Education and Learning) as one of the Top 100 Leaders in Education and Leadership for 2020, which will take place in Las Vegas in June. February 2019, Escoffier School of Culinary Arts online selected her as one of the faces and host of a series entitled “World of Cuisines.” which was filmed for the school’s online program. April 2019, Chef Coco was selected by Smithfield Foods and the American Culinary Federation, (ACF) as one of 40 chefs nationwide for their Smithfield Culinary, Partners in Culinary Excellence Program. Coco was also selected by New Chefs Fashions Inc. and formed a collaboration to produce her signature chef coat, which features her designs.  She was also the 1st woman sworn in as 2nd VP of the ACF Atlanta Chef’s Association and received their “Humanitarian of the Year 2015 award. Chef Kareen has sat on several of the ACF Atlanta Board of Directors. Professional Organizations: World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), the American Culinary Federation and La Chaine des Rotisseurs and Disciples of Escoffier International-USA.

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