Every SoFabU on the Road has an adventure and every adventure is different! From a photo walk of the graffiti art in Wynwood to Grillology in LA. Each adventure combines fun and learning, so you leave feeling full of inspiration and knowledge. Make sure you bring your cameras and/or smart phones charged and ready to create content!
Gaylord Chefs Tour with Photography/Video instruction
The Gaylord Texan is known for it’s world-class restaurants that offer everything from barbecue to Tex-Mex. SoFabU on the Road attendees will be given an exclusive tour through three of their award-winning restaurants to learn from three of their top chefs. From recipe creation, to food trends, to creative ways to style and plate food, we’ll learn from the best of the best!
Each group will by lead by a photography or video pro to continue the education as they highlight tips and tricks for making your content and photos/videos stand out. During the walk between venues, we’ll explore this resort’s 4.5 acres of lush indoor gardens and winding waterways.
We’re going to learn so much from these amazing chefs and top-notch photography/video pro’s!
Ashely Castillo, General Manager of Glass Cactus
Ashely joins the Texan with over seven years of experience working in Food & Beverage within the Marriott family of brands. Most recently, Ashely worked as the Director of Beverage at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida. In this role, Ashley oversaw the operations of the properties Sports Bar and Lobby Bar. This position allowed Ashley to implement new and innovative concepts while executing flawless events.
We are delighted to welcome Ashley to the Texan where she will be joining us as the General Manager of Glass Cactus Nightclub. Ashley is responsible for overseeing operations of the club and booking the clubs nightly live entertainment. In addition, Ashley manages all labor and beverage controls and is be responsible for hosting the clubs events throughout the year.
Ashely loves being outdoors and enjoys spending her time outside in the sun with her Chihuahua named Ziggy. She is very passionate about traveling.
Brian Stalters, Executive Chef of Banquets.
With over 13 years of culinary experience, Brian most recently served as the Executive Banquet Chef at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida. In this role, Brian managed 50 Associates who flawlessly executed banquet functions for up to 4,000 guests. Additionally, Brian developed the 2015 Banquets menu and set the property up for success for the coming year. Prior to his most recent role, Brian worked at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare as an executive Sous Chef where he helped to drive culinary AES scores up 13 points in just one year! Brian began his career in May of 2001 working as a Senior Sous Chef at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes, where he worked for ten years and truly enjoyed his time there.
As The Texan’s Executive Banquet Chef, Brian leads the daily food and beverage kitchen operations including food preparation, kitchen sanitation, and daily inventory. He works to ensure all banquet events go flawlessly, whether he is serving a room of 100 guests or 5,000 guests. Brian also works toward executing strategic plans for forecasting, budget management and cost control as well as provides leadership to the Banquets culinary team and work with them to achieve success at every event.
Brian is the youngest of three children, and throughout his child, he and his family truly enjoyed exploring new cities. This is where Brian developed his passion for food and cooking. Brian loves to snowboard in the colder weather, but also loves the beach lifestyle in Orlando, which is what he will miss most about being in Florida. Brian and his dog, Ruby, are thrilled to be in Texas enjoying the mild winter. They look forward to spending some time exploring the DFW area. Brian, who prefers to be called “Butta”, has a tremendous amount of creativity and passion for cooking. He finds inspiration from all around him and truly enjoys making exceptional dinners for special events.
Zeb Hartline, Executive Chef of Riverwalk Cantina.
With over 5 years of chef experience, Zeb served as the Senior Sous Chef for the JW Marriott Orlando Great Lakes in Florida. In this role, Zeb and his culinary team of over 20 hosts successfully increased the restaurants’ quality of food rating over just one year! Zeb also created the concepts for all of the properties holiday buffets and lead his team to victory in a Florida BBQ competition bringing home over a dozen awards. Prior, Zeb worked as Sous Chef at the Orlando World Center Marriott where he designed an entirely new menu for the pool restaurant, and successfully implemented a new concept at one of the properties other leading outlet. Zeb has a tremendous amount of creativity and passion for cooking and is always coming up with new exciting ideas for his restaurants.
As Riverwalk Cantina Executive Chef, Zeb leads the daily food and beverage kitchen operations including food preparation, kitchen sanitation, and daily inventory. He works towards executing the strategic plans for forecasting, budget management, cost control, and inventories. Zeb leads Riverwalk’s culinary team, providing our guests with flawless signature dishes.
Zeb grew up in a very small town in Michigan on a 67 acre fruit farm. Growing up in this environment and working with fresh ingredients every day is what inspired him to become a chef. When Zeb is not cooking, he can be found brewing his own seasonal beer; he enjoys creating new and unique blends throughout the year.
Joshua Hicks is the current Lifestyle/Social Media Director for Drive Shop- The Drive Experience Company based in Seattle, WA. He was raised near Ft. Smith, AR as an avid car enthusiast and attended the University of Oklahoma to study Fine Arts/Film. His ten years of experience in the film and TV industry of Los Angeles put him at nearly every aspect of production, from preproduction/storyboarding, to lighting, directing, shooting and editing. This took him on many adventures and helped fuel his love of living a good story, including serving as a “Wild Stingray Wrangler” for a Lifetime TV movie “Honeymoon with Mom”! He then spent a year in Japan teaching English and tasting all the strange foods he could, and loving every minute. Now at Drive Shop, Joshua is focused on building relationships with Lifestyle Media and getting them opportunities long-reserved for auto journalists – week-long test drives for editorial content and other engagements. This is the perfect combo of his love of cars and storytelling.
Rebecca E. Parsons is a gifted storyteller, wordsmith and photographic mixed media artist known for her pioneering efforts in Social Media. She is a Canon gal and self-taught lifestyle and nature photographer with a creative edge. Combining photography and PhotoShop is her expressive outlet illustrating the strong emotional connections with her subjects. Rebecca is an eLearning Strategy/Content Designer for Collective Bias’ Social Fabric University. CEO of REP Media, publisher ofCre8tive Compass Magazine and affiliated media: radio and online talk shows, podcasts. She offers blog styling, e-book and magazine creation services to bloggers. Her artwork landed in The White House, the Smithsonian, in numerous magazines and opened the doors to appearances on HGTV, TLC, DIY. “I tell stories for a living,” she says. Her stories revolve around DIY projects, food, entertaining, and living a wildly creative lifestyle. She is an accomplished motivational speaker with a degree in Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University.
Paula Bendfeldt Diaz is the Sr. Manager for the Colectiva Latina Community at Collective Bias and the the founder and editor of GrowingUpBilingual.com and 365ThingsToDoInSWFL.com. Paula was first introduced to photography watching her grandfather who was a great photographer and who instilled in her his love of photography. Paula is a self taught amateur photographer who enjoys taking nature photos and photos of her travels.