Chef Jon Vandewater:
I started working in restaurants at the age of 15. Beginning as a bus boy, I quickly advanced to cooking and enjoyed it very much. In 2001 I attended “Scottsdale Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu” and graduated with honors. Later I was chosen for an internship at the school in the Advanced Baking Department. There I nurtured a talent for the time-consuming nature of pastries and finishing work but, more important, teaching others.
After school I worked at The Royal Palm’s award-winning restaurant T Cooks with Chef Derek Morgan, and the talented staff of one of Phoenix's best restaurants. Later I found myself in Kansas City at 40 sardines Restaurant and its James Beard-award-winning chef/owners Michael Smith and Debbie Gold, where I worked as sous chef. There I learned how to focus my classical French training with a philosophy of simple, uncomplicated, American fare. In 2006 my family and I moved back to Iowa. I accepted a sous chef position at "The Cafe" in Ames. For seven years I applied previous education and experiences to a familiar setting, my home.
In 2013 I accepted the chef position at Hy-Vee in West Ames, the same store that I worked at 15 years before, and where I had met my wife. I hope to nurture the relationships between Hy-Vee and its customers by offering myself as a resource for any questions, and also offer educational classes and cooking demonstrations.
Chef Devon Kepley:
Chef Devon Kepley was born and raised in Ames. After high school he attended Iowa State University where he graduated with a degree in hotel, restaurant and institution management. Within this time, he discovered his true passion for food, and in 2000 attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. During this time, Devon interned at La Folie under Chef Roland Passot, learning classical French cuisine; La Folie at that time was one of only seven 4-star restaurants in San Francisco, California.
After graduating from the CIA with honors, Devon moved back to California where he worked at Parcel 104 and learned the importance of using local ingredients and supporting local farms and farmers. From there, Devon was given the opportunity to help open Bradley Ogden at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2003. While he was working there as a sous chef, the restaurant went on to win the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America in 2004. Then after spending five years at Mariposa, he moved back to Ames in 2008 to start another chapter. He was a sous chef at The Café until he joined the Hy-Vee team in May of 2013. Here, Devon plans to share his wealth of ideas with the people of his hometown.