About the Chefs

Some of America’s top chefs have appeared at the Tennessee Aquarium’s Serve & Protect live cooking shows.

They come to Chattanooga because they support the Aquarium’s objectives to:  make sustainable seafood easier to understand, help diversify everyone’s “seafood portfolios” and empower others with information, tips and techniques that make preparing sustainable seafood fun and enjoyable.

2016 Serve & Protect Chefs

Chef Virginia Willis

Willis returns to the Serve & Protect stage at the top of her game. She is a 2016 James Beard award winner for her most recent cookbook, “Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome.” She is also currently in development with Boston’s WGBH-TV on “Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South,” which will air on PBS stations nationwide in 2018. A new companion book will be released to accompany the program’s debut.

Willis is also a contributing editor for Southern Living. Her column “Cooking with Virginia” will debut this fall. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.”


Chef Tamie Cook 

Cook has been an integral part of the Aquarium’s Serve & Protect sustainable seafood program since it was launched in 2011, both producing and starring in this top-rated event each year. For nearly a decade, Cook served as culinary director for the Food Network show “Good Eats.”

Her many talents have paved the way for her to work on award-winning cookbooks and videos while utilizing her technical culinary art skills in the roles of food stylist and recipe tester/developer.

Cook is also a freelance food writer and teacher who has a passion for leading others to sustainable seafood and mindful eating.


Kim Severson

Severson has been a staff writer for The New York Times since 2004. She is a correspondent based in the South, reporting on the nation’s food and culture. She also contributes to NYT Cooking, a new website and app based on the extensive New York Times collection of recipes and cooking videos.



Famed foodist Alton Brown helped found the Aquarium’s Serve & Protect program. Brown counts himself as among those who have been inspired by consuming a steady diet of Jacques Cousteau television specials and being an enthusiastic SCUBA diver. Using his culinary fame and talents, Brown seeks to reach new audiences with information and recipes that lead to wider adoption of preparing only sustainable seafood. Brown wrote, produced and hosted Good Eats on the Food Network for 13 years, winning a Peabody Award and a James Beard award along the way. He is also the author of seven books including, I’m Just Here for the Food which won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Cookbook in the Reference category. His three volume Good Eats companion books all made the New York Times best seller list. 

Brown’s most recent endeavors include hosting Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network and mounting a nationwide traveling road show called the “Edible Inevitable Tour.”


Suzanne was the champion chef on Food Network’s popular "Chopped" TV show in 2011. Suzanne says winning the competition before an international viewing audience was a phenomenal experience, giving her the confidence to be a successful chef and launch her own restaurant.  She’s had a lot of fun throughout her culinary career. In 2014 Suzanne appeared on NBC’s TODAY Show, teaching weatherman Al Roker how to deep-fry a turkey in a sweet tea brine.

Suzanne says, “A lot of people hear the term ‘farm to table’, and it’s become almost this trendy term to say. It’s really not a term, it’s really just a movement we support as chefs. Knowing where your food comes from is really important, and I think that we as chefs and restaurateurs should be able to educate the public on what you should be eating.“


Steven has earned many titles since he traded a successful music career for a profession in the culinary arts. His resume includes: James Beard Foundation finalist for Best Chef, Southeast 2013; also nominated for Food & Wine magazine’s People’s Best New Chef. Under his direction, Miller Union has been placed on the “Best New Restaurants in America” lists from Bon Appétit and Esquire, as well as Atlanta magazine’s “Restaurant of the Year.” Steven is also the author of two cookbooks; Celebrity Chef: More than 60 Delicious Recipes and Root to Leaf.  As a member of Slow Food Atlanta, Georgia Organics and the Southern Foodways Alliance, Satterfield remains actively engaged with Atlanta’s progressive culinary community.


Spicer is a one-woman industry in New Orleans. Among her many awards, Spicer has been named one of Food and Wine's 10 Best New Chefs and received the James Beard Award for Best Chef, Southeast Region, 1993. Her French Quarter restaurant, Bayona, has been featured in Bon Appetit and has been listed as one of the top 5 restaurants in the Zagat Guide for New Orleans. She has received the DiRoNa designation from Distinguished Restaurants of North America and the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence. In May 2010, Susan was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. 

Spicer appeared on the Bravo television program Top Chef during the finale in 2009. Susan is also credited with inspiring a Hollywood persona. Ms. Desautel, a character in the HBO series Treme, a television series depicting post-Katrina New Orleans, was loosely based on Spicer’s career.

Chef Barton SeaverBARTON SEAVER

Chef Barton Seaver is the Director, Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. He is also a National Geographic Society Fellow and Sustainability Fellow in Residence at the New England Aquarium. Barton is the author of, “For Cod and Country,” “Where There’s Smoke,” and the forthcoming National Geographic books, “Foods for Health” and “NatGeo Kids Cookbook” which are scheduled to be released in September.

As a chef Barton’s restaurant career has always focused on sustainability, helping establishments garner eco-friendly recognition from publications like Bon Appetit.   In June, Barton was part of the panel at the U.S. Department of State’s “Our Ocean Conference.” Later he had the honor of preparing and serving dinner to Secretary of State John Kerry and other dignitaries. 


Born in Lyon, France, Chef Nico Romo is the distinguished culinary executive director of Fish Restaurant in downtown Charleston.  Chef Romo rose to prominence among the United States’ finest hotels – including the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, and the Ritz Carlton Atlanta, and is a US member of The French Culinary Academy and Master French Chef.  Both elite international assemblies comprise the most highly skilled chefs in techniques and traditions of the French culinary art. 

In addition to being a  Monterey Bay Aquarium 2014 Sustainable Seafood Ambassador, Chef Romo was selected by the James Beard Foundation from more than 450 applicants nationwide to participate in hands-on advocacy training with a focus on sustainable seafood.

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