CHRIStopher t. ZEMBRZUSKI : KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Chef Chris Zembrzuski (Chef Z) has been in kitchen environments since he was legally able to work. Starting as a busser at an Outback Steakhouse, he worked his way up the kitchen ladder to be Kitchen Manager, he found food to be his passion and applied to the The Art Institute of Phoenix, certified by the American Culinary Federation. He was selected for the program from 5,000 applicants. He was one of the 164 that started that year and one of 75 that graduated 3 years later. Winning a scholarship in a Quick-Fire Challenge.
Mentored by the great Chefs from throughout the world. During school he worked in kitchens as well, such as the Hilton at Tapatio Cliffs and Squaw Peak, Il Posto Italian Kitchen, The White Chocolate Grill, and Chelsea’s Kitchen, Chef Z learned the foundations of culinary excellence.
He then took his new set of skills back to Kansas City, where he was Sous Chef at Blanc. Chris really started to learn about local and organic ingredients and the importance of using quality products. He worked with Blanc for two years developing recipes and opening new locations.
Seeking new challenges, Chef Z moved back to the Southwest to Sedona, Arizona to learn more Mexican influenced styles. He landed chef jobs with Open Range and L’Auberge Resort and Spa.
Always looking for new experiences and challenges he moved to Foodie Central, San Francisco, California and worked as Chef De Cuisine for Christopher’s Fine Catering. Cooking personally for film and photo shoots in The City and around the Bay Area. In that time he was able to work with and build client relations with: Facebook, Williams Sonoma, Apple, Starbucks, Hewlett Packard, United Airlines, Ford Motor Company, among many others.
Eventually, Chef Z found his way back to Kansas City, this time with a plan to work for himself and get back to doing what he loves. Cooking directly for people in their own homes. He feels it is much more gratifying cooking for someone on a personal level and developing a relationship with his customers. As he learns your likes and dislikes, the options for creativity are endless.
“Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.” François de la Rochefoucauld
ERICA WAGNER : KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Erica Wagner’s love for food began as a young child, when she began sitting on the counters watching grandma cook everything. As a six year old, she told her mom, in a thick Texan accent, “she wanted to be a ‘fry cook’.”
In high school, she attended tech school to learn pastry arts and worked in her first restaurant at the age of 17. She continued her education at Scottsdale Community College and earned an Associates of Arts in Culinary Arts. In the Phoenix Metro, Erica worked for several restaurants and caterers, even for herself as a private chef, until she moved to Flagstaff to continue her education in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Hired right out of college Erica worked for Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, first as a restaurant manager then was promoted to Banquet operations. There she honed her service 4-star service skills, learning from her wonderful mentors. Her most memorable experience there was serving John McCain and (former) Vice President Biden.
Erica made her way to Kansas City in 2013 with Starbucks and since being here, has worked for a couple meal prep companies as a sous chef and personal trainer.
Being with Chef Kansas City, Erica feels at home, both with the team and the work she is doing. As she tells many folks, this is where she belongs, fulfilling her love of cooking and the ability to share it others.
ROBERT a. SETZER : PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Chef Robert Setzer is a 4th generation Arizona native. Family has always been and continues to be a major source of support and inspiration. Family gatherings and holidays always centered around a meal that was lovingly prepared from scratch. Because of this, Robert gained an appreciation and passion for home cooked meals and quality ingredients.
Starting at the young age of 15 washing dishes, Robert glimpsed the future he would inevitably fall in love with. The noise and commotion of a restaurant kitchen seemed a bit foreign, but the love and joy the customers were emitting became addicting. “Nothing can compare to this feeling of gratification and happiness”.
Upon graduating high school, Robert moved to Downtown Phoenix and began to pursue his calling as a chef. While working at a small Italian restaurant in Phoenix, “Il Posto”, he achieved his associates degree in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Phoenix, and then went on to earn a Bachelors degree in Culinary Management.
Robert has worked for many very successful and notable restaurants in the valley. His experience includes Sous Chef at Chelsea’s Kitchen, Executive Sous Chef at La Grande Orange, Executive Sous Chef at True Food Kitchen, Executive Chef at Arcadia room, Chef De Cuisine at San Tan Brewing Co and Executive Sous Chef at Federal Pizza.
All of the amazing kitchens Robert has worked in have been a source of learning and growth in many ways, but the one thing he has embraced as most important is to… “Love the food and ingredients you put on the plate”.