DSC_0447.jpgMeet Our Chocolatiers

We are so appreciative of the support of our local restaurants and chefs.

Our Chocolatiers are judged in the following categories:

  • Most Decadent
  • Creative Ingredient
  • Original Taste

Guests will have a chance to vote for their favorite chocolate and award a Chocolatier with the coveted People’s Choice Award!

Get to know our Chocolatiers! Check back often for the updated list.


Mr. Z’s Hand-made Candies

Aaron Zendner is owner of this Incline Village micro-confectionary and serves as chocolatier extraordinaire preparing Mr. Z’s hand-made chocolates. The art of making chocolate has always been a family affair for the Zendners. Aaron started making candy as a child with his father and grandparents, and his wife, Danielle, and sons, Elbert and Charlie, all contribute to Mr. Z’s unique style and taste.

Chef Bio

Mr. Z started working with chocolate in his grandparents’ candy stores at the age of 13. He began working in restaurants at a young age to earn money and then became passionate about creating new dishes and flavor profiles. Now, Mr. Z has over 25 years of culinary experience. He reopened Mr. Z’s in 2004. Since 2005, he has competed in 5 Chocolate, Wine & Roses Festivals and has won the “People’s Choice” award all 5 years, plus 2 “Most Decadent,” and 1 “Most Original Creation” awards.

Chef Q and A

Who gave you your first break and believed in you? Who is your most valuable mentor?
My Uncle Chuck Swing, owner of T’s Rotisserie and my grandfather “Pop Z,” who taught me how to work with chocolate.

What do you feel is your greatest strength in the kitchen?
Leadership, dedication and passion!

How does it make you feel when you know that your business is making a difference with the funds we raise?
It feels great to get our whole family involved in the fundraising experience as we love to help support people in need.

Cafe Spice

Chef Bio

Christa Finn, Owner
Bio coming!

The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Adjacent to the main hotel tower on the shores of Lake Tahoe, the award-winning Lone Eagle Grille welcomes guests to a world-class view and dining experience.
Lone Eagle Grille is ideal for lunch, dinner, and cocktails aprés ski (or beach). Enjoy Chef Mark May’s High Sierra Cuisine, an impressive wine list and breathtaking views of the lake. Start by savoring appetizers and cocktails in the Great Room lounge overlooking Lake Tahoe’s majestic peaks and incredible sunset views. Then head to the dining room for an exquisite dining experience prepared in the display kitchen. Experience our seasonal menus, featuring menu selections from wild game meats to fresh seafood, the finest in fresh local ingredients are used to prepare each dish.

Chef Bio

Guido Landolt, Executive Pastry Chef

Chef Q and A

Why are you passionate about the work of Tahoe SAFE Alliance?
It is my personal and Hyatt’s commitment to give back to the community; I can’t think of a better way to get engaged as participating in this event

How does it make you feel when you know that your restaurant/hotel’s participation is making such a difference with the funds we raise?
As the largest employer here in Incline Village, I always thought that Hyatt has done such a fantastic job within the community. It is just fabulous working for Hyatt and being a part of this annual fundraiser.

Who gave you your first break and believed in you?
Mr. Bindella, a high-end restaurateur and owner of 12 restaurants in and around Zurich.

The Ritz Carlton

With its spectacular setting, the resort provides a stunning backdrop to every dining option. Manzanita, the resort’s signature restaurant by renowned San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardins features her signature French-inspired California cuisine with mountain resort influences. Mountain Blue Market offers casual fare in a counter service setting with seasonal indoor and outdoor seating. Enjoy the region’s finest wines and cocktails while relaxing in The Highlands Lobby Bar, with its sweeping views of the surrounding forests from this northern California mountain retreat.

Chef Bio

Daniella Rinaldi, Pastry Chef Bio coming!

Jake’s On The Lake

Since 1978, Jake’s on the Lake has embodied a carefree Tahoe spirit in a “Classic Waterfront Grill” offering superb service, a friendly and casual atmosphere and the finest and freshest food.

Located on the waterfront in the heart of Tahoe City, Jake’s boasts sweeping views of Lake Tahoe’s crystalline water and stunning mountain vistas.

Chef Bio

Scott Yorkey, Executive Chef
Scott Yorkey became Executive Chef at Jake’s On The Lake in May of 2005. Since then Scott’s influence on the menu has garnered many awards and praise from food lovers of all types. After working in kitchens from age fourteen in San Jose, California, Scott enrolled at Santa Barbara City College Culinary School. Upon graduation in 1999, he worked as a Sous Chef in restaurants and hotels in London, Maui and Santa Barbara. He invites the fun-loving diner to share in the taste and energy which Jake’s On The Lake is famous for.

Chef Q and A

How and why did you choose a career in the food industry? How did you learn your craft?
I have a good friend that got me a job as a bus boy one summer when we were young. On my second day there, one of the cooks walked out and I was asked to help in the kitchen. That’s where I have been ever since. I could never see myself sitting in a cubical all day, and I love working with my hands and creating delicious meals from wholesome fresh foods. I guess I started learning at a very young age as I can remember my mother having me stand on a chair in front of the stove to help cook dinner.

How does it make you feel when you know that your restaurant/hotel’s participation is making such a difference with the funds we raise?
We are honored to help with these special events that raise funds for such great organizations. We are delighted to be connected with the community outside of the restaurant. We think it is tremendous what Tahoe SAFE Alliance have to offer to our community, so we are thrilled to support the Tahoe Chocolate and Wine Festival.

What is the best part about being chosen as a Chocolatier?
It is so much fun to be one of the Chocolatiers at the Tahoe Chocolate and Wine Festival because we get to make some really great chocolate treats for the guests. All of the guests enjoy themselves so much and it’s great to see so many different people enjoying the same thing CHOCOLATE!!! I mean who doesn’t like chocolate.

North Tahoe Catering

Among our many services are weddings, private personal chef dinners, cooking instruction, picnics, award winning ice sculptures, corporate outings, rehearsal dinners, large scale events, and more. North Tahoe Catering Co. has won the People’s Choice Best in Show gold medal for Best Food and Wine Pairing and Judge’s choice, gold medal best dessert at the Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival this past October. With over 20 years of experience in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee areas, North Tahoe Catering Co. has the experience to make your next catered event a memorable one.

Chef Bio

Chris Banovich, Executive Chef and Owner

“Your imagination is your only limitation”

Living in the Tahoe area for over 20 years, Chris continues to provide award winning dining and ice sculpture events. Chris began his culinary career attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco while working with local chefs Bradley Ogden, Steve Simmons, Jeremiah Tower and Stephen Silva. As a Bay Area native, Chris has always believed in fresh, fun and sustainable fare. Following Culinary school, he has held Chef positions at Tourelle Café and Aloha Pacific Cruise Lines in Hawaii, Royal Gorge Wilderness Lodge, opening team Executive Sous Chef /interim Executive Chef at the Resort at Squaw Creek, and Executive Chef at Northstar at Tahoe assembling one of the Northshore’s first sustainable and natural restaurants, True North.

Chris is also a first choice personal chef for travel destination company concierge, Exclusive Resorts, Ultimate Escapes, True Collections and Tahoe Luxury Properties.
While owning Tahoe Ice Sculpture and North Tahoe Catering Company, he has won numerous gold medals for best ice sculpture, best food and wine pairing and best food, most recently 2009 Best Dessert and Judges and People’s Choice pairing. Some of his notable clients, Francis Ford Coppola, Robin Williams, Andre Agassi, Emeril Lagasse, Croatian Ambassador to Russia Stephano Vlahovic, Google owners, the Ritz Carlton, 49ers, Raiders, Grgich Hills, Jessup vineyards and many more relationships over the years.

Chris is also the only competitor to win the Tahoe Iron Chef Blazing Pans twice. His Personal Chef and catering services have been featured on recent Travel Channel shows showcasing the professionalism, exemplary product and great service Chris has brought to the Tahoe area.
Chosen the last 3 years to participate in Best of Tahoe Chef’s raising over $110,000 in donations for cancer treatments.

Our ice sculptures have been featured recently in Premier Bride and Edible Reno Tahoe magazines and we have just joined in on the www.icesculpture.com team as we are showcased to be the chosen ice sculpture company for the Tahoe Reno areas.

Recently, Chris had purchased the longtime popular Twin Peaks Catering infrastructure and is now in the process of a re-branding under North Tahoe Catering Co. This aquisition will create a much improved product and service package for the North Tahoe Catering Co. clients in the future.

Chef Q and A

What do you feel is your greatest strength in the kitchen?
Calm, confident, even tempered, integrity to great flavor and quality

How does it make you feel when you know that your restaurant/hotel’s participation is making such a difference with the funds we raise?
As we donate to many community entities, we pick and choose our benefits and always give as much as we can to help.

What is your one tip with working with chocolate
Work fast, being patient and not too hot.