Meet the Chefs of Feast 2021!


At Common Ground, we deeply value everyone who makes up our local food ecosystem. These community partners hold the same beliefs that we do – that food can be a celebration, rooted in culture and prepared sustainably. We are grateful to the following chefs and business owners, who are generously donating their time and product to make Feast 2021 possible:

Alisha Crutchfield-McLean, Owner at BLOOM

Alisha Crutchfield-McLean is a prominent Fashion/Celebrity Stylist, Tech and Lifestyle Entrepreneur, plus mom and wife, who splits her time between New York City and Connecticut. With 18 years of experience, her keen fashion sense, work ethic, and risk-taking has led to a successful career in high fashion, editorial, runway, theater, tv and film as well as coveted roles as Fashion Director for Miss Universe Organization and CEO of MODABOX.

Alisha is constantly evolving and growing her professional portfolio. Through her StyleWise Life (SWL) program, tools, specialized techniques and positive philosophy, many have learned to create more of what they want in their lives– more wellness in their bodies, minds, and spirits. With her new venture BLOOM, she is combining these same principles with an emphasis on mental health and local talent by providing a community space for professional and personal growth.

Eddy Caves, Beverage Program Director at BLOOM

Eddy Caves has worked as a bartender and mixologist at New Haven eats ranging from Barracuda to House of Naan. In his own words: “Growing up my mother was a good cook, so I was always around the food & beverage industry, along with the culture of gathering, dancing & having drinks while socializing with friends and family. I fell in love with serving people, specially while they were having beverages, talking about life & exchanging ideas and creativity. This is how I can do my part to spread joy.

For 15 years I’ve been serving in multiple businesses, training the new generation, consulting and setting bar & mixology systems. As an official educator, I get to put my part in shaping the new up-and-coming service people and bartenders. I’m opening up my own mixologist bar in the same building/plaza as my future mixology school, building a brand with all of the tools and products a team needs to run successfully anywhere around the world.”

Homa Assadi, Chef at Sanctuary Kitchen

Homa Assadi is a refugee from the Jaghori District of Afghanistan who came to New Haven in 2015 with her husband and three children. She is passionate about cooking, and has been catering for IRIS’ (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services) week-long core classes for newly-arrived refugees to New Haven. Homa’s favorite traditional food is mantu – meat-stuffed dumplings, one of the most popular dishes in Afghanistan. When she was a child, she was taught how to prepare this special dish from her father, who was the primary cook when she was growing up after the loss of her mother.

Homa also enjoys baking. While her repertoire in Afghanistan was limited to preparing homemade naan, since living in the U.S. she has learned to bake desserts from watching YouTube! She is excited to be part of Sanctuary kitchen, saying, “I most look forward to preparing my traditional food and sharing my culture. I hope everyone will enjoy it together!”

Stephen Ross, Executive Chef and Manager at Jazzy’s

Stephen Ross is the Executive Chef and Manager at the soon to be Jazzy’s Soul Kitchen and Lounge where the menu is meant to bridge the African diaspora. “One month, the special will be from Haiti. Another month, the special will be from Ghana,” said Jazzy’s owner Jason Watts.

Ross is a Hamden native and James Hillhouse High School graduate. He started his culinary career at New Haven soul food establishment Sandra’s. He trained formally at the Connecticut Culinary Institute and has cooked at Zinc, Barcelona and Anchor. Ross also founded his own restaurant, Cast Iron Soul, in 2010. He has been supporting Feast for the Fields for too many years to count — and we are so grateful he is part of our community!

Sonia Salazar, Chef and Owner at Barracuda + Te Amo

Sonia Salazar’s passion for food started when she was seven years old in Colombia, cooking recipes passed down from generation to generation. Moving to this country began her culinary exploration and opened her palate to a new world of cooking and tasting, enticing her to learn the ways of food preparation from other cultures. Her culinary experience working for the Hyatt & Westin hotels gave her the opportunity to work with and learn from many international chefs and develop her own flare for fusion cooking.

In 2015 Salazar opened Barracuda Bistro & Bar on Chapel Street, a Latin American gastro bar and in 2018 she opened Te Amo Tequila Bar & Tacos on Temple Street, a modern Mexican taco & tequila restaurant in a sophisticated, high energy atmosphere.

Mark Scialabba, Executive Chef at Firehouse 12

Mark Scialabba is the chef of Firehouse 12, a cocktail bar located in the basement of a jazz focused recording studio, in New Haven, CT. He specializes in vegan plant-based cuisine utilizing ingredients and techniques from around the globe. He has been cooking professionally for over ten years in many different kitchens throughout New Haven.

Harinder “Harry” Singh, Chef and Owner at Pataka

Harinder “Harry” Singh learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business from working at Sitar, his father’s restaurant that has been in business for over 35 years. Since then, Harry always knew that he would open his own restaurant one day. This dream birthed House of Naan, a restaurant that redefines the Indian food experience creating modern flavors in a relaxed atmosphere.

In addition to House of Naan, Harry owns the newly-opened Pataka which seeks to innovate a vegetarian Indian cuisine that is rooted in SPICE and SUSTAINABILITY; this work has included partnering with local farms like MASSARO FARM, STARLIGHT FARM, as well as our VERY OWN FARM!

Chef T (Faythiya Williams), Common Ground

Chef T was her mother’s kitchen helper as early as she can remember. When her mother suddenly fell ill, she assumed the role of cooking for her family at 10 years old. She started with the things she knew her family loved: Southern comfort food from their South Carolina roots like biscuits and fish fillet. From there her love of food evolved. She’s cooked professionally in just about every environment, from her own diner to a corporate kitchen and now (lucky for us all) for our students and community at Common Ground.

Aerin Zavory, Chef and Owner at Zavory’s

Aerin Zavory, Chef/Owner of Zavory’s Catering, started her culinary career by working her way up in privately owned restaurants, and then went on to Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, OR, to study culinary arts. She has worked under several James Beard Award recipients and nominees, and received a Michelin Bib Gourmand award while having the position of Chef de Cuisine in Napa, CA.

Aerin has also traveled throughout Australia and New Zealand, working on organic farms as she went. To actually work on the farms and see how farm to table dining comes together has defined the methodology behind her food. With the knowledge gained from fine dining to farming, Aerin decided to open her own catering company, called Zavory’s, with the hopes of bringing fresh and local ingredients to your events. In her free time, Aerin enjoys the outdoors, hiking, camping, and spending time with family and friends.

Feast is led by Audrey Nefores, Development Manager at Common Ground. If you have any questions, please reach out to her at Thank you for being a part of our community.


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