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Leading Culinary Talent to Share Insights at 26th Annual American Express Restaurant Trade Program at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

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Leading chefs and restaurateurs from around the country will convene at the 26th annual American Express Restaurant Trade Program from June 19-21, 2015. An exclusive feature of the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, the program provides attendees a forum to share strategies and exchange ideas for achieving growth and spurring innovation in the restaurant industry.

This year’s program will feature three panels that offer insights from the industry’s brightest culinary stars, as well as valuable networking opportunities. For the first time, American Express will also award $1,000 to one restaurateur as part of the New Restaurant Concept Pitch Contest, which allowed program pass holders to submit their idea for a new restaurant concept.*

“As a long-time advocate of the restaurant industry, American Express is always looking for ways to connect merchants with resources that can help them remain successful,” said Gunther Bright, Executive Vice President of Merchant Services-U.S., American Express. “The American Express Restaurant Trade Program enables chefs, restaurateurs and other members of the culinary industry to learn from and connect with their peers.”

The schedule for the 26th annual American Express Restaurant Trade Program is as follows:


9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – “Meet the Masters”

  • Moderated by: Andrew Zimmern (Chef, Author, Teacher; Host, Co-Creator & Co-Producer, Bizarre Foods on Travel Channel)
  • Panelists: Jose Garces (Chef & Owner, Garces Group), Gabrielle Hamilton (Chef & Owner, Prune), Marcus Samuelsson (Chef & Owner, Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny’s Supper Club, Streetbird Rotisserie), and Michael White (Chef & Co-Owner, Altamarea Group).
  • Topics: Panelists will share strategies from their experiences, including how to leverage technology and social channels to drive business, stay relevant in this competitive industry, retain and mentor staff, and understand trends.

1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. – “Fine Casual”

  • Moderated by: Andrew Zimmern (Chef, Author, Teacher; Host, Co-Creator & Co-Producer, Bizarre Foods on Travel Channel).
  • Panelists: Rick Bayless (Chef & Owner, Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO) Ashley Christensen (Chef & Proprietor, AC Restaurants), Danny Meyer (CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group), and Bobby Stuckey (M.S., Master Sommelier & Co-Owner, Frasca Food and Wine and Pizzeria Locale).
  • Topics: Fine dining restaurateurs will discuss the challenges and opportunities when transitioning their business models into casual concepts, and share how they have seen the industry and customer demands evolve over the past two decades.


9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – “ROI: Restaurateurs on Investments”

  • Moderated by: Gail Simmons (Food & Wine Special Projects Director & Top Chef Judge).
  • Panelists: Tim Love (Chef & Owner, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth & Austin) and Sang Yoon (Chef & Owner, Lukshon & Father’s Office).
  • Topics: From writing a business plan, to launching a branding campaign, or talking through the risks and process of investing in restaurants, panelists will provide anecdotes from their experiences in restaurant investments.

*The New Restaurant Concept Pitch Contest is only open to Restaurant Trade Program pass holders. Participants will have the opportunity to submit a new restaurant concept to American Express with an opportunity to pitch their concept to a panel of experts and more than 200 attendees of the Restaurant Trade Program. The winner will receive a $1,000. Visit to download the submission form and for the Official Rules.

No purchase necessary. Open to American Express Restaurant Trade Program pass holders who are legal residents of the fifty (50) United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories and possessions, who are at least 18 years of age and age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence and who are registered to attend the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 18-June 20, 2015. Contest ends 11:59 p.m. ET 5/25/15. Void where prohibited.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, Plenti rewards program, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, corporate card and business travel.

Note to Editors:

For more information on the 2015 American Express Restaurant Trade Program, please visit

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