Chef Tristen Epps combines his classic training and international travels to cultivate a unique and nuanced globally-influenced palate. Born in Trinidad, and the child of an active-duty military mom whose stations included Guam, Japan, and the Philippines, Tristen’s passion for unique cuisine began at a young age – and carried him through a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and Food & Beverage Industry Management at Johnson & Wales University and a grueling three-year culinary apprenticeship at the renown Greenbrier Hotel. He has worked in kitchens across the country and over 3 continents, cooking alongside chefs such as Richard Rosendale, Thomas Keller, Marcus Samuelsson.
Samuelsson first became Tristen’s mentor on ABC’s The Taste, where he came in second, though Samuelsson called him out as the best chef of the competition, and offered him a ticket to New York and a job on air. When Anthony Bourdain tried his first dish of the competition he said it made him “want to frolic”. Tristen’s subsequent three years with Samuelsson was the most pivotal of his career, as he served as Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine and Executive Chef in Samuelsson’s restaurants in New York, DC, Bermuda, Sweden, London. He branched out from Samuelsson’s tutelage for Executive Chef positions in Brooklyn, NY and Denver, CO, but returned to the Marcus Samuelsson Group family to helm the long-awaited Red Rooster Overtown in Miami.
His skills have been widely recognized by his peers, as he’s won 9 American Culinary Federation medals (including three golds), was crowned Chopped champion on Food Network, saw one of his signature dishes featured on Cooking Channel’s Best Thing I Ever Ate, was highlighted in Bon Appetit Magazine as the creator of one of the best 5 meals of Carla Hall’s life, and was published alongside esteemed colleagues in the December 2019 cookbook “Toques in Black” and “The Rise”. n 2021 was nominated Rising Star Chef of Miami And led Red Rooster to be nominated “Best new restaurant “ by Conde Nasté and Best Restaurant in Miami. And leading them to Michelin recognition. His ultimate goal is to bring valued equality to food from colored foodways to be held in the same regard as European influences.