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We're excited to see the field of competitors who have already won their golden ticket and registered to compete at the 2017 World Food Championships. And we are always proud to announce our special guests and celebrity judges participating in our judging events across the nation - we're sure the championship food certainly helps! Best of luck to our 2017 competitors!

CELEBRITY JUDGE

Sam Hazen

2014 WFC Judge

Sam Hazen can’t remember a time when he hasn’t been cooking. Born into a restaurant family, Hazen’s passion for the kitchen started when he was a young boy working in the family’s two restaurants. “I grew up with great food,” says Hazen. When it came time for Hazen to decide on college, he naturally went on to pursue his passion with a formal culinary education at the Culinary Institute of America, where he later returned as a professor from 1990-1993.

Upon graduation in 1982 he was awarded a three-month fellowship with Chef Leon Dhaenens. At Chef Dhaenens’ famous dinners, Hazen met Charlie Palmer, and credits him with opening the door to his next opportunity, working in the iconic kitchen of La Côte Basque under the tutelage of famed chef Jean-Jacques Rachou.

Hazen cooked at La Côte Basque for 5 years working his way up to sous chef. There he fine-tuned his French technique with Rachou, who also mentored such leading chefs as Charlie Palmer, Rick Moonen, Ali Barker and Waldy Malouf.


Hazen worked at the Quilted Giraffe and at Quatorze before heading to London where he earned the position of chef de partie at Albert Roux’s Michelin three-star Le Gavroche. Hazen returned to the U.S. to be the executive chef of Terrace in the Sky followed by Cascabel and Tavern on the Green.

Most recently, Hazen was the Executive Chef of Tao for 11 years. To prepare for Tao’s opening Hazen immersed himself in Asian culture and cuisine, traveling extensively through Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Upon his return he helped create two of the biggest culinary successes in the country: Tao New York and Tao Las Vegas.

Hazen’s exuberance is not only evident in his personality but in the food he creates. When asked about stepping out of the soaring, stunning space of Tao and into the intimate elegance of Veritas, Hazen notes “I’m excited to get back to my roots to do the kind of cooking I enjoy, go to the Greenmarket, and take my time with the menu every day.”

Hazen has created a Contemporary American à la carte menu with dishes people can enjoy everyday, not just on a special occasions. Epicurean yes, but accessible food everyone can indulge in, all designed to match Veritas’ outstanding wine collection “ “To work with such an amazing wine cellar is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” remarks Hazen.

Hazen enjoys long standing relationships--many going back over 20 years --with some of the most well respected purveyors in the country and will continue to purchase his ingredients from them, whether it’s beef, wooly pig or Belle Rouge chickens from Debragga & Spitler, or lamb from Niman Ranch.