Kenny Gilbert

Chef Kenny Gilbert

Garden & Gun Kick-off Dinner and a Show
Friday, August 31

Cooking since he could barely reach the kitchen counter at age three, Chef Kenny Gilbert is best known for his appearance on “Top Chef” season seven, where he displayed big personality and instantly become one of the most likable cheftestants to date. 

Born and raised in suburban Cleveland, Kenny’s curiosity for the kitchen started young.  His mom noticed how captivated her son was when she cooked or entertained and so in an effort to harness it, began teaching him the basics. Kenny’s father, an avid BBQ man, schooled him in the ways of the grill, including homemade sauces and rubs, presenting him with his very own small Weber at the age of seven.  By age 11 Kenny was cooking the entire Thanksgiving dinner solo, and in high school, was cooking for his entire swim team, before and after practice and meets on a portable electric double burner in the locker room.  Cooking had been in Kenny’s blood from day one and so, while still in high school, he enrolled in a local vocational culinary program.

After high school, Kenny attended The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute where he received a degree in Culinary Arts. Upon graduation, Kenny relocated to Jacksonville, FL, where he joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company as an apprentice in the garde manger kitchen of their Amelia Island property.  Kenny worked his way up to Chef de Cuisine at the age of 23 at the Ritz, helping to consistently secure the AAA Five Diamond Award for the property throughout his tenure there.

After a two year stint in Naples, FL, opening Caxambas, a members-only fine dining establishment in the Fiddler’s Creek development, Kenny landed in Sea Island, Georgia where he served as Executive Chef, overseeing all four dining concepts at The Lodge Sea Island Golf Resort.  During his tenure at The Lodge, Kenny had the opportunity to cook for the G8 summit while President Bush was in office.  After Sea Island, Kenny returned to the Ritz-Carlton family, taking the position of Executive Chef at their Jupiter, FL location. It was then onto Telluride, Colorado, where he led the culinary team at The Inn at Lost Creek, one of Conde Nast’s Top 40 Resorts in the US – Kenny would then join the opening team for the new luxury boutique hotel, Capella, under West Paces Hotel Group. 

While working in Colorado, Kenny learned of the open casting call for Bravo’s “Top Chef” season seven.  He auditioned and made the cut.  While he didn’t take home the winning title in DC, he did well in the competition and impressed the judges with his skills and finesse. 

After “Top Chef,” Kenny landed back in Jacksonville, FL, where he designed and opened Caribbean-inspired Nippers Beach Grill.  Within one year of opening, Folio Magazineawarded Kenny Chef of the Year, and Nippers, Best Caribbean Restaurant.  Next up, Kenny made his way to Miami where he served as Corporate Chef for 50 Eggs Restaurant Group and was responsible for organizing and designing the future kitchens and infrastructure for James Beard recognized concepts like Yardbird, Khong River House and Swine.  After Miami, Kenny headed back to the turquoise water and sandy beaches of the Caribbean, working as the Executive Chef at Bajan Blue at Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados (the famous internationally themed restaurant grosses over $10 million in sales annually). 

In 2014, Kenny headed north to Edison, NJ where he served as the Executive Chef of Plainfield Country Club, an elite golf facility that hosts the annual Barclay’s Golf Tournament.  He has now settled back in Jacksonville where he opened Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen with his wife Anna.  UK serves seasonal deep southern cuisine and is located in Fernandina Beach, FL.  This Fall, Kenny and Anna will open their second restaurant, Gilbert’s Social, this time in Jacksonville proper, serving seasonal and creative modern Southern fare with international influences.

Kenny is also a consultant for Micfood, an international company based out of Miami that produces organic tropical packaged goods like Plantains and Yuca, while also lending his expertise to the menu at Boston neighborhood restaurant, Tempo American Bistro.

Over the years, Kenny has developed a passion for herbs and spices, and has paired that passion with his culinary prowess to create Chef Kenny’s Spice Blends, a line of spice blends with equally big personality. The product line, which includes Jerk Spice, Raging Cajun and Cinnamon Coffee Rub, is used by luxury hotel brands including The Lodge at Sea Island Company and the Omni Amelia Island Hotel and Resort. The line of spice blends is also available for purchase at, or at Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen.

Throughout his career, Kenny has traveled the world, staging in some of the top restaurants in Japan, Spain, France and the Caribbean.  He has cooked at the James Beard House, participated in wine & food festivals around the country, cooked for the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl party and appeared on the “Today Show,” Jacksonville’s FOX 30 and in the LA Times. Kenny has also recently penned his first book titled, A Chef’s Journal. He has cooked for the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Stedman Graham, Samuel L. Jackson and A.J Calloway, just to name a few.  Kenny has competed on and won Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” and beat Chef Bobby Flay at his own game on “Beat Bobby Flay.”

With over 20 years of professional experience in the food & beverage industry, Kenny has run just about every area of Food & Beverage Divisions at the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five-Star levels. His passion for fine dining is complemented by his vast experience across the entire spectrum of the culinary industry. From banquets to pastries, club and restaurant design to bar and lounge concepts, Kenny’s innovative and creative approach to the restaurant and hospitality industries is unmatched.

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Gina Knox

Gena Knox, Cookbook Author and Blogger

Garden & Gun Kick-off Dinner and a Show
Friday, August 31

Hailing from a long line of talented Southern cooks, Knox learned her way around the kitchen at a young age. After graduating from college with a degree in landscape architecture, she chose to follow her passion for food, starting a fresh salsa company that soon turned into a catering business. Before long, she returned to Georgia to take a landscape architecture job with Sea Island Resort which allowed her to fulfill her other passions for gardening and design. 

In 2003, Gena founded Fire & Flavor, a company specializing in all-natural cooking and grilling products such as grilling planks, seasonings, and charcoal. The company took off, and now Gena and her husband sell to more than 15,000 stores nationwide. Knox’s culinary instincts and knack for creating approachable dishes led to her writing numerous cookbooks.  Southern My Way: Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors received the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Its success led Gena to follow it up withSouthern My Way: Food & Family.  As a mom of four children, Gena loves spending her time educating others on cooking healthy, simple meals for their families.

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Rafe Rivers

Rafe Rivers, Canewater Farms

Garden & Gun Kick-off Dinner and a Show
Friday, August 31

Canewater Farm is a family-run and certified organic farm, owned and operated by Ansley and Rafe Rivers. The farm is situated in the Georgia Lowcountry near the town of Darien adjacent to pristine marshland. Canewater specializes in high quality & organic vegetables, milled grains, and honey. We also raise a select amount of Ossabaw Hogs. We cater to over 50 restaurants and retailers along the Georgia & South Carolina Coast as well as two weekly farmers markets. Thank you for supporting local organic growers!

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Enjoy Food Truck fare prior to NEEDTOBREATHE.

Saturday, September 1, 5:30 p.m.

Concert gates open at 6 p.m. Food Trucks purchases are all à la carte. All vendors will remain open from 5:30–11 p.m.

Certified Burgers and Beverage

Certified Burgers & Beverage

The grinder to griddle approach to burgers at Certified is what separates us from the herd. Our locally sourced meats are prepared in our very own butcher room then cooked to order for a fresh food experience like you have never experienced before. Certified Burgers and Beverage only serves wholesome, fresh and local food that you are proud to feed to your family. From our hand cut fries to our ONBF (other non-burger foods); fresh just taste better. You have had five guys now try five stars.




Family owned Chazito’s offers Latin Fusion cuisine…Puerto Rican classics with a modern twist!



Molly Macphersons

Molly Macpherson's

Molly's Fish & Chips truck is a part of Molly MacPherson's Scottish Pubs. We have been serving fish and chips out of our food truck for 8 years. Our menu includes fish, shrimp, chicken, and our famous Guinness beer brats!


Southern Soul

Southern Soul Barbeque

These local legends serve as proprietors (and Harrison as pitmaster) at Southern Soul Barbeque, recently voted Best Barbeque in the South for the second year in a row by the readers of Southern Living magazine.