Chef Spotlight For The Tri W Area

Clarissa Zick, Cork & Ale

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WAXHAW, NC – These local chefs know how to combine spices and flavors to create exquisite dishes and desserts.  So when you’re dining out, please give your compliments to the Chef!  They work hard to make your dining experience memorable!

Tracey Bross, White Tulip Gourmet

Pastry Chef Tracey Bross of The White Tulip Gourmet in Mineral Springs.

The White Tulip Gourmet is a non-traditional bakery and coffee shop located at 5917 Waxhaw Highway in Mineral Springs.  The executive chef and baker is Tracey Bross.  Tracey is a creative and innovative chef who graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Miami, Florida, who specializes in baking and pastry arts.  She has worked for the Fountain Bleu Hotel, Sheraton Bar Harbor, the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, and the Gaylord Hotel in Texas.

Chef Bross gathers her inspiration from the world around her.  From road trips to collaborations with other chefs to her son, she creates her delicious pastries with a flair for flavor.  Macarons are her specialty, and she has customers who drive two hours just to come and purchase macarons from her shop.  One customer, who had been to France (where macarons originated), said that Chef Bross’s macarons were better than those that she had in France!

One of Chef Tracey Bross’s favorite desserts to make is a delicious tiramisu.  She had her very best tiramisu at a mom-and-pop shop in Miami Beach and aims to recreate that experience for her customers.  She sources as many ingredients as she can locally and carries jams, jellies, local honey, and 100% organic soy candles.  In addition, they serve Dilworth Coffee in-house along with their pastries and baked goods.  Please visit their “White Tulip Gourmet” Facebook page for more information on their menu and journey.

Clarissa Zick, Cork & Ale

The Cork & Ale is a restaurant, taproom, and wine bar located in the heart of downtown Waxhaw at 113 E. North Main Street.  Chef Zick is self-taught and gifted with a fantastic palette and the ability to distinguish between spices and flavors.  She has been the executive Chef at Cork & Ale for one and ½ years and has changed the restaurant’s dynamic.  She is inspired by what she has on hand and the collaboration of the flavors and textures that the customers enjoy.  She regularly tests her creations with regular customers and the Cork & Ale staff to perfect her creations to the best of her ability.  She wants the team’s feedback from the customers, and the staff and Chef work together as a family.  Her favorite dishes to create depend upon her mood and the season.  She works with fresh and seasonal ingredients and also considers wine pairings.  Chef Zick creates dishes to go with wine pairings that match the wine’s country, with a bit of her spin and creativity. Sliders are among her favorite items to make, and she adds delectable ingredients such as candied bacon and goat cheese.  Her dishes have a seasonal flair, currently using summer favorites like caramelized onion, roasted garlic, wild mushrooms, and salads with strawberries, pears, and watermelon.  For more information and to try Chef Zick’s innovative creations, please visit and see some of her best work on Facebook at “Cork and Ale.”

Craig Gillenwalters, Mario’s Italian Restaurant and John’s Place

Chef Craig Gillenwalters, executive chef for Mario’s Italian Restaurant and John’s Place.

Craig Gillenwalters has been an executive chef for 37 years.  Chef Gillenwalters started in the restaurant business at 14 years old and worked his way to being Chef.  He is self-taught and gained experience from working with his brother-in-law and the chefs who taught him along the way.  He owned his restaurant in New York before moving down to North Carolina to be with his brother-in-law John Fisichello (owner of Mario’s Italian Restaurant and John’s Place).  Chef Gillenwalters works with a static menu of over 140 items and creates daily seasonal specials for his customers.  He works with the freshest ingredients, and everything is made in-house in his 4,000 square foot kitchen.  Chef Gillenwalter’s favorite dishes to make are the Gambino Shrimp Scampi which is parmesan-crusted, and a pork chop marinade that is grilled with garlic and mushrooms and olive oil.  For more information on Chef Gillenwalter’s unique creations, please visit or follow his journey on Facebook at “Eat Mario’s Pizza” and on Instagram @eatmariospizza.  Mario’s Italian Restaurant and John’s place is located at 2945 Weddington Road in Matthews.

Pete Elsby, Saveeda’s American Bistro

Pete Elsby
Pete Elsby

Chef Elsby graduated as valedictorian from the Academy of Culinary Arts in May’s Landing, NJ.  In addition, he received specialty degrees in Italian cooking and sanitation practices.  He is ServSafe Certified as well.  As the executive chef for Saveeda’s American Bistro, Chef Elsby finds his inspiration in the joy his food brings to his customers’ faces.  Providing his customers with an outstanding meal is his daily goal.  His dishes are made from the freshest ingredients. Some of his entrees include seared sea scallops with oven-roasted beets, pickled shallots, and lemon buerre blanc; lemon-rosemary grilled chicken with vegetable risotto; and Chef’s choice featured hand-cut steaks.  There is sure to be something on the menu to please everyone’s palette.

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