Chef Debbie Gold is Kansas City’s first James Beard Award winner. Initially studying restaurant management at the University of Illinois, Gold received her professional culinary training in France, attending L’Ecole Hoteliere De Tain L’Hermitage and apprenticing in several Michelin starred restaurants.
In 1994, Gold joined Culinary Concepts, LLC as corporate chef, which included The American Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., as executive chef she leading the restaurant to national recognition. In 1999, Gold received the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Midwest” – a first for Kansas City. After running the kitchen for seven years and receiving national accolades and recognition for her work at The American Restaurant, Gold opened 40 Sardines in Overland Park, Kan. The hugely successful restaurant was nominated for “Best New Restaurant” from the James Beard Foundation and won a James Beard Award in 2002 for "Best Restaurant Graphics.” Additionally, Esquire magazine named 40 Sardines among the "Top 20 New Restaurants in America” in 2002.
In 2008 Gold returned as executive chef at The American Restaurant to again lead the establishment to a host of honors, including consistent AAA Four Diamond and Mobil Travel Guide four-star ratings. In 2013, she opted to make a career transition and leave the restaurant to be able use her talent, skills, and knowledge to help others in the hospitality industry.
During her prestigious career, Gold has worked with a number of restaurant groups to develop concepts that include SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza, which has become a national franchise and Crayola Café, which was named the “Best Kids Menu in America” by Restaurant Hospitality. She was a contestant on the second and fourth seasons of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” has appeared on the “Today” show, and been featured in multiple national publications, including Saveur, Marie Claire, Wine Spectator, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Town & Country, Robb Report, and Midwest Living. She has appeared in national campaigns for Grey Poupon, Kikkoman, Stella Artois and Vita-Prep blenders. She was named a guest chef for the 2002 Winter Olympics Finale Gala Dinner in Salt Lake City, Utah and in 2009, was invited as a guest chef for the James Beard Foundation Awards Gala.
Gold stays active in the local and national culinary community. She helped establish a series of annual James Beard Foundation fundraising dinners as well as developed local seminars and special events featuring local chefs as well as famous chefs from across the country. She has been invited to cook in all over the world. She has been an international guest chef in Hong Kong, Peru, Mexico City, Brazil, among others countries. Feast Magazine featured her as one of KC’s Culinary Innovators and was invited to cook at the Kentucky Dearby, and at a dinner for special guest Ferran Adria of Il Bulli Spain, in honor of his art exhibit “Ferran Adria: Notes on Creativity - Visualizing the Mind of a Master Chef” which was on display at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, Kansas City.