To help us provide chefs, food service professionals with the information you crave, we've enlisted these experts to our Culinary Advisory Board.

Senior Vice President of Research&Development at The Wendy’s Company

Lori Estrada has been with The Wendy’s Company since 2001. During her tenure with the company, she led the successful re-invention of several menu categories including salads, chicken, and premium Dave’s Hot & Juicy Hamburgers.  In 2014, Lori received Nation’s Restaurant News’s LTO of the year for the 2013 launch of the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. Lori has worked in the food industry for over 29 years. Prior to her career with Wendy’s, Lori led product innovation at several other major QSRs, including Burger King, Taco Bell, and Jack In the Box, earning awards of distinction for her work. She is active in restaurant industry associations and is a current board member for the Flavor Experience.

Consumer Insights Manager, Menu & Innovation

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

As the Consumer Insights Manager, Menu & Innovation, for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Debbie works with three very talented chefs to identify food trends and determine how to best bring them to life in a uniquely Red Robin way as new products for both the core menu and Limited Time Offer (LTO) promotions.  Debbie led the development and implementation of Red Robin’s cross-functional stage gate product development process and is continuing to evolve the process today.  Prior to Red Robin, she spent over 15 years with KFC both in Operations and Strategic Planning and Brand Marketing.  Debbie holds an MBA in Operations and Marketing from Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management and a BA from Rhodes College.

Corporate Executive Chef, Luby’s | Fuddrucker’s

Chef Phalen has over 20 years of culinary experience. He studied at the San Jacinto Culinary School where he received an A.A.S. in the Culinary Arts. During that time he also completed a three-year chef’s apprenticeship at the Doubletree Hotel where he received his culinary certification through the TCA-Texas Chefs Association and the ACF-American Culinary Federation. Through his efforts as an apprentice, he was elected junior chapter Chairman and was awarded Apprentice of the Year honors.

Dan then returned to San Jacinto College as a culinary instructor for three years teaching advanced pastry techniques and food fundamentals. During his career, he has worked as banquet chef, off-premise high-end catering, executive pastry chef, culinary director, and catering consultant. He also worked for 12 years with Sodexo, including the last three years as a regional culinary director for 12 states. Dan has been with Luby’s for 8 years developing the culinary services division and is now the Corporate Executive Chef for Luby’s Fuddruckers LLC and oversees all culinary for Luby’s cafeterias, Luby’s Culinary Services, Fuddruckers and Cheeseburgers in Paradise restaurants.

Dan has competed in numerous culinary competitions and has been awarded 9 medals including bronze, silver, and gold and the “best dessert” award in the Washington Apple Growers competition.

Dan is a native Houstonian who lives in Spring with his wife Maria, daughter Danielle and son Aaron.

Director of Research and Development, PDQ WOW!

Michael Brannock is the Director of Research and Development at MVP Holdings, where he is responsible for creating new menu items and enhancing current offerings for 45 PDQ and Wow! Fresh and Fast restaurants nationwide. Michael’s love for food runs deep in his southern roots. Michael independently prepared his first made-from-scratch cherry pie at the age of five, under the watchful eye of his proud Granny Nancy. Some thirty years after this creation, she still described it as “good, better, and best,” which is one Michael’s fondest memories as a young cook.

His love of fresh food was fostered by the “farm to table” mentality shared by his family. Gardening, canning, preserving and from scratch cooking were day-to-day aspects of his life on Mamaw’s farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This passion led him to the restaurant industry where he shadowed the kitchen staff in between shifts as a server for Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Michael quickly climbed the professional ladder with Carrabba’s and was promoted to Product Test Specialist at the corporate headquarters in Tampa, FL. After 14 years with Carrabba’s, he was poised to take on new challenges and his culinary expertise opened doors to another rewarding opportunity with new brands; PDQ and Wow!

He currently resides in Tampa, Florida with his wife, Sara, and their dog, Daisy. He is honored to serve on the Advisory Board of the National Turkey Federation.

Corporate Executive Chef, LYFE Kitchen

Jeremy Bringardner is a member of the first graduating class of the world’s premier Culinary Nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University, 2001.  He earned an associate degree in Culinary Arts and a bachelors of science degree in Culinary Nutrition, both summa cum laude, and received the Freshman of the Year Academic Achievement Award, 1998.

Jeremy earned his cooking chops by training under several legendary chefs.  He studied New England cuisine under Chef Daniel Bruce, Rustic Italian cuisine under Al Forno Chefs George Germon & Johanne Killeen, Classical French cuisine under Chef Dominique Michou in Belgium, Alsatian cuisine under Chef Jean Joho, Fusion Asian cuisine under Chef Bill Kim, and most notably Jeremy joined the major leagues of fine-dining with a 3 year stint in the world class kitchens of Charlie Trotter.  In his time at Trotter’s, Chef Jeremy rose to the level of Tournant Chef and embraced the jazz-like improvisational approach to cooking at every station in the kitchen and was appointed to the “Trotter’s all stars” traveling team for special events. Jeremy revolutionized the menu at Trotter’s To Go, a frontier “prepared foods to go” outlet, contributing over 100 recipes, dozens of which became top selling fan favorites and garnered a devout following.

Today, Jeremy Bringardner is the Corporate Executive Chef for LYFE Kitchen and is the culinary mastermind behind their award-winning menu. Through LYFE kitchen, a fast casual restaurant concept with 17 locations and counting, Chef Jeremy leads the “great tasting, good for you” food revolution and is changing the way America eats by combining his fine-dining background and nutrition education to create delicious everyday foods with nutritional edge that are affordable and accessible to the masses.  LYFE Kitchen has received countless awards and media recognition, including being named one of the “Top 5 Hottest Concepts of 2014” by Nations Restaurant News.  Chef Jeremy’s innovative food has appeared in/on Windy City Live, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Wired Magazine, Parents Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Shape magazine, Flavor Magazine, Taste Magazine, Women’s Health, LA Times, NY times, NY Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg TV, and many other news and media outlets.

In 2014, Chef Jeremy competed on and won the Food Networks cooking competition show “CHOPPED”.  He was the first “healthy chef” on the show to take down a butter loving bacon obsessed tattooed chef competitor on national TV, using only nutritionally responsible cooking techniques to develop exciting flavors and take home the title “Chopped Champion!”

Innovation Chef, Chalak Mitra Group

Tony Fialho, a native of Sao Paulo Brazil, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and has been in the restaurant business for 20 years. Prior to joining the Chalak Mitra Group, Tony worked as an Innovation Chef for Brinker International. His culinary career also includes working his way through the Texas Dining scene with five years as the Executive Chef at Truluck’s Restaurant Group in Dallas. He has also has held stints as the Corporate Chef for Taco Cabana and Director of Culinary for Marecana Restaurant Group in Brazil. When Tony isn’t cooking, he likes to play tennis or spend time with his one year-old daughter, Isabelle, and wife, Jessica.

Executive Chef, Applebee’s

For nearly ten years, Jessica has created menu items for Kansas City-based Applebee’s, the world’s largest casual dining restaurant chain, serving more than one million people each day.

Innovation is at the core of Jessica’s career. With nearly twenty five products on today’s Applebee’s menu, Jessica has had a hand in developing appetizers, burgers, better-for-you options, desserts, the Kid’s menu and more.

As a classically-trained chef, Jessica sharpened her culinary skills in independently owned fine-dining restaurants. She has a Bachelors degree in Leadership from Rockhurst University and a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

Her favorite part of the job is traveling and eating, especially desserts, and her must-have meal at Applebee’s is a Standard All-in Burger with Salted Caramel Pretzel Bites and a Perfect Margarita.

She grew up in a food desert in a small Kansas town with her single-parent, working mother. While Jessica’s meals as a kid lacked inspiration, freshness and culinary technique, she was always fond of food. She worked as a cook in the evenings after school and upon graduating high school, moved to Kansas City to attend culinary school.

Success in her role requires Jessica to find inspiration for new ideas from a variety of sources, and often comes from the most unexpected of places. Additionally, Jessica has learned successful innovation comes with failure, a lot of failure.

Director of Culinary, Butterball LLC

Master Chef (one of 65 Certified Master Chefs—Certified by the American Culinary Federation) Anthony (Tony) Seta is a culinary professional with 35 plus years of experience in successfully developing creative and signature items for restaurant chains and food manufacturers. He applies his expert knowledge of ethnic cuisines and current culinary trends to recipe and formula development with a primary focus on flavor.

Chef Seta offers a strong foundation in culinary sales training gained throughout his career, including his experiences as Director of Culinary for Butterball LLC, Chef Instructor and Director of Continuing Education at the Culinary Institute of America, head of R&D departments for large restaurant chains (Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill), and as a consultant for prominent food manufacturers. Through his work at the Culinary Institute of America and consulting projects, Chef Seta worked extensively with the Military, training their cooks (aboard ship, on military bases and at the CIA). He is well known throughout the foodservice industry and has strong relationships established in all areas of the business.