Jimmy’s Résumé



Owner SugarToad Management LLC

A restaurant consulting firm specializing in improving the culture of the employees, quality of food and service, and generating very positive reviews as well as national press.


Fresca on Addison

Co-Owner (with daughter); featuring an all vegetarian menu consisting of pizzas, ‘burgers’, tacos, sandwiches, salads, and vegan desserts. Named by Food & Wine as the best vegetarian restaurant in Virginia.


Celebrity Chef/Spokesperson Vita-Mix

Hired to promote the Vita-Prep blender, which was introduced as a restaurant quality professional blender.  Came up with an ad campaign called “Famous Chefs Naked with their Blender”.  The campaign ran exclusively in Food Arts magazine for five years and was lauded by the magazine’s founding editor and publisher, Michael Batterberry, as “the greatest ad campaign in the history of foodservice”.  Each of the monthly ads featured one of the nation’s top chefs including Jean-Louis Palladin, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Nora Pouillon, Michelle Bernstein, Marcus Samuelson, and others, naked except for their strategic placement of their Vita-Prep Blender.

Nov 2006-Aug 2010

Co-Owner: Carena’s Jamaican Grille

Opened in 2007 with partner Carena Ives of Jamaica House restaurant fame.  I sold my interest in order to open Fresca on Addison with my daughter.

Feb 2008-Dec 2010

Opening Executive Chef, F&B Director and Chef/GM of SugarToad at the Hotel Arista, Naperville, Illinois

May 2005-May 2007

Executive Chef at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas where I oversaw 11 restaurants and helped develop new restaurants for a planned replacement hotel, which did not get built.

October 2004-April 2005

Jimmy Sneed’s at the Country Club.  One of 8 ‘celebrity’ chefs chosen to open a restaurant at the soon-to-open Wynn Las Vegas.

October 2002-August 2004

Tristan, Charleston, SC. Hired as Chef/GM for a two year old restaurant that had gone through several chefs and general managers.  Eight weeks in, named as ‘One of the best new restaurants in America’ by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

April 1993-April 2001

Chef/Owner, The Frog and the Redneck, Richmond, VA.

Arguably Richmond’s most nationally recognized restaurant earning awards from Esquire Magazine as “One of America’s Best New Restaurants” to AAA four diamonds (this despite its casual feel and straightforward food).

July 1987-January 1993

Windows on Urbanna Creek. 

My first kitchen as Chef, garnering kudos and awards for the use of pristine local ingredients. 

June 1985-June 1987

Sous Chef, Jean-Louis at Watergate. 

Chef Jean-Louis Palladin was considered by most chefs as the greatest chef of our time.  Chef Palladin was at that time the youngest chef in France to ever receive 2 Michelin Stars.

June 1984-May1985

Sous Chef, Mayfair at the Regent Hotel, Washington, DC. 

Chef Gunter Seeger, a Michelin-rated chef who then moved to Atlanta, and I returned to Jean-Louis at Watergate as Sous Chef to Chef Palladin.

June 1981-May 1984

Jean-Louis at Watergate

Line cook

September 1979-May 1981

Four Seasons Hotel, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Chef Tournant

In addition I have consulted in several restaurants including independents and chains.


Two-time James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef in America, Mid-Atlantic. To date Richmond’s only JBA finalist.

Two PBS cooking shows with Julia Child (In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs).  Invited by Ms. Child to tour with her to give demonstrations at trade shows.

Guest Speaker at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.

Guest Instructor at l’Acadamie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD for over 10 years.

Chef Instructor University of Richmond continuing education program.

Chef Instructor College of William & Mary continuing education program.

Featured chef (twice) at the Masters of Food and Wine in Monterey, CA.  Other chefs included Thomas Keller, Michel Richard, Jacques Pepin, Jean-Louis Palladin, Charlie Trotter, and others.

Featured on the covers of Style Magazine and Restaurant Marketing Magazine.

World Gourmet Summit, Singapore, named as one of 10 “Icons of Gastronomy”

Translator at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris ’73-’74.

Gave a two hour speech to 350 chefs in Las Vegas, standing ovation, 2001.

Featured chef in Great Chefs of the East TV series.

Weekly chef tip WBBT Channel 12 as well as a Culinary Radio program on WRIR.

Frequent contributor to several publications such as:

Food Arts, Richmond Magazine, Coffee and Cuisine, Fine Cooking, Washingtonian Magazine, Boomer Magazine.

Developed recipes for, and wrote the Professional Series Cookbook for the Vita-Mix Professional Series blender.

First chapter of Far Flung and Well Fed features Jimmy and his passion for local product, specifically soft shell crabs.  This was the last book written by the legendary Johnny Apple of the NY Times.

Press Quotes

“One of America’s Finest Chefs.” – John Mariani, regarded as one of the most read food critics.

One of the Best New Restaurants in America – Esquire Magazine (re: The Frog and the Redneck)

One of the Best New Restaurants in America – Wine Enthusiast (re: Tristan, Charleston, SC)

“There are lots of good meals to be had in Charleston but none better than we enjoyed at Tristan. We had a hell of a good time.” – R. W. Apple, Jr., New York Times

“…worth going the hundred miles to Richmond to taste the ‘amazing’ things Jimmy does with regional products.” – Washington, D.C.  Zagat Guide

“the talk of food circles and the destination for countless road trips” – Discovery Channel

“Chef Sneed has discovered the primal flavors of food.” –  Robert Shoffner, Washingtonian Magazine

“Jimmy Sneed serves, in my opinion, the best food of the Jean-Louis Palladin disciples.  He is irreverent and brilliant at the same time.” –  Michael Birchenall, Food Service Monthly

“The most delectable soft-shells anywhere” – New York Times

“He’s so manly!” – Julia Child

Be a Cook First.

“You plant your garden and then you tend to it.”                                   Chef Jeffery Buben, Washington, D.C.

Jeff seemed to get the essence of our reason for being.  Us cooks, I mean.  He was a mentor of mine, at the ripe age of 25, when I began at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown in 1981. (Other great advice he gave me was 1) if you ever get a chance to work with Jean-Louis Palladin, stick it out as long as you possibly can, and 2) don’t let hotel security catch you with that joint.)

I owe Jeff a lot.

My first month at the Four Seasons I was assigned to fill in for the ‘garde manger’.  I was lost.  I had my work area with its stainless steel tables, walk-in refrigerator, and massive recipe book, but no clue.  I started day one with a list that included 300 dainty tea sandwiches: watercress, rose petals, cucumber, and such.  It took me three hours.  “Tomorrow, do them in two hours” Jeff directed.

And so it went.  Next it was twenty gallons of vinaigrette, three hundred cherry tomatoes stuffed with cheese and olives, then 150 deviled eggs, six vegetable platters, eight decorated cheese platters, four asparagus terrines, and don’t forget the six bowls of guacamole.  Then clean down everything and take your lunch break, we have a lot of work to do this afternoon.

I get a lunch break?

When I actually did get a chance to work for the great Jean-Louis Palladin, it was lunch and dinner with a two hour break in between.  Our work consumed our lives.  If you weren’t cooking, you were thinking about what you had to do for tomorrow.  And I need to tell you this: Jean-Louis may have been the greatest chef of the day, and certainly entitled to perks, yet in all the years I knew him he worked the ‘line’ every single night, unless he was cooking an event or out of town.  Not once did he say “hey guys, I’m going to take off tonight and hang out with my family”.  Thank god we were closed Sundays.

He wasn’t in it for fame.  At that time there were no famous chefs in America, at least so far as the dining public knew.  An award was nice, but not a goal.  A good review meant we would be busier and a bad review meant “we must work harder”.  He was a cook first, and a chef by default.

The iconic Four Seasons, located in the Seagram’s building, designed by Philip Johnson and what’s his name, is closing, or moving, after 56 years.  If you’ve never eaten there, you’re probably not in the 1%.  When it opened in 1959, lunch for two was around $25 all in.  Now, it’s closer to $60.  Each. Plus tip.

I took my wife and two kids there once, many years ago.  It was something of a busman’s holiday.  I had spent several months working long hours helping Chef Gunter Seeger open what was to be the greatest restaurant in America.  Or at least Washington, D.C.  This was at the Regent Hotel, 1984.  After a grueling six months of getting open and running, Chef Seeger offered me a vacation and a hotel room in NYC at the Regent owned Mayfair Hotel.  How could I say no?  Why would I?  The Mayfair housed the famous ‘Le Cirque’ and was one of the nicest hotels in a city of great hotels.

My family was young: Jenna was two and a half, Jamie a year old.  I was going to make the most of this trip, culinarily speaking, and made reservations at Le Cirque, the famed Lutèce, and the Four Seasons (no relation to the great hotel chain).

Calling the Four Seasons, I asked for a table for four at lunch, early.  I noted that I was bringing two children with us.  Not a problem, said the reservationist.

Arriving at the Four Seasons, we were among the first customers for that day.  “May I help you?” asked the maître d’.  I detected a sneer.  Yes, reservation for four.  Sneed.

He: Hmmm.  You see (he sneered on) this isn’t exactly a restaurant for children.

Me: I told the reservationist I was bringing my two kids.

He: I doubt she realized how young they were.

Me: Do we get seated, or not?

He: Well, you do have a reservation.  If you were to insist…..

Me: Ok, I insist.

He: You’ll need to put on a jacket.  Please follow the busboy to the coat closet.

Me:  Fine.

As I walked away from him, in my brand new Lucchese boots and Sunday best, he called out with more than a little glee “Wait.  Aha.  We don’t allow jeans. Sooo sorry.”


I told this story to a friend 10 years later who assured me that things had since gotten so bad that I could have then walked in ‘wearing a speedo and flip flops’ and gotten served.  We’ll never know.

The next day we were to lunch at the famed Lutèce, home to Chef Andre Soltner.  Stacey decided to stay back at the hotel with our young son so Jenna and I went, Dad and daughter.  Entering, we walked by the open ‘pass’ and there was the great Chef Soltner nodding to us as we were led to our table.  Looking at my toddler-date the waiter paused and said “Please wait here a moment”.  He and a busboy then grabbed a stack of tablecloths and improvised a booster seat for Jenna so she could see what she was eating.



A slightly edited version was published in

Richmond Magazine, December 2014

Are you going out to eat, or going out to dine?  Are you a guest, or a customer?  Is dining theater, or just another form of shopping?  Here is some food for thought.


  • I’ll begin with the tough one: No bread and butter on the table, for lots of reasons. Hopefully you’re there to dine.  If it’s a nice restaurant, don’t fill up with dough and fat even though it does taste so damn good.  Save room for an appetizer and entrée, maybe even split a dessert.  If it’s not such a nice restaurant, that roll or bread is the cheap stuff.    Fight the urge, just say no.  And if they have good bread, nothing is better.  But at the very least, wait until your appetizers are down before you savor the bread.  I remember back in our youth Stacey and I would go to Hogate’s on the waterfront in D.C.  After they took your order for a fried seafood platter, they started your meal with a huge brick of warm, iced cinnamon roll.  No wonder we lay awake half the night.


  • No free water. Enjoy a glass of wine, some good quality tea, or (my personal favorite) a bottle of San Pellegrino.  It has just the right bubbles and light sodium to taste delicious.  Tap water is filled with chorine and yuck, and it costs the restaurateur about the same as a soda (poison I tell ya).  If they get $2 bucks for $.17 worth of corn syrup and carbonated water, why free tap water?  They spend about the same money giving you a clean glass and ice cubes.  They have to make it up somewhere.  If they filter the water, that’s more cost to them.  Pay a buck.


  • No tipping. Wtf?  How does that work?  Well, the servers need (and usually deserve) a decent wage.  Tipping after the fact only adds to the drama.  Will you leave 10% or 25%?  Or nothing?  Does the server have to get all kissy kissy or do they come in to do their job the best they can?  Like the cooks.  Or dishwashers.  Gratuities are included in most European countries and service there does not suffer.  In fact, they are there to make a living, not run to the table to see how much you left them.


  • Stop focusing on portions. The bigger the plate of food served, the more the restaurant needs to buy cheaper ingredients.  A ginormous plate of spaghetti with cheap cheese, canned sauce and imitation parmesan dust is not ‘dining’.  It’s filling your belly with processed foods.  If a restaurant is out to gouge, oh well.  A rule of thumb for all you restaurateur s:  30% of your revenue goes to food cost, 30% to labor, 30% to operating costs (rent, insurance, utilities and a thousand other costs) and 10% to the bottom line.  It’s reasonable.  Bars can make much more money with a low beverage cost, low labor cost (tips vs wages) and cheap food.  You need to decide if you’re getting quality value, not quantity value.


  • Ban cell phones.   In this day and age?  Look around next time you eat out.  Holding a phone in one hand and a fork in another is spectacularly common.  Check your guns (phones) at the door and nobody gets hurt.  Good luck with this one.


  • Do not ask the server for recommendations. I know, I know, it’s what you do.  Don’t.  In a good restaurant, there should be no ‘bad’ dishes.  Follow your gut feelings.  If you’re looking at the lamb and the waiter suggests the pork chop, what to do?  It turns out the waiter has never had the lamb or doesn’t like red meat.  Who cares?  On the other hand, if you’re in a not-so-good place it might be a good idea to get steered away from dishes that everybody knows are awful.  When I was taken to a place in Bentonville, Arkansas by a firm I was consulting with, the host asked the server what he would recommend.  “Frankly” he said, “I wouldn’t eat anything here but the NY Strip”.  All eight of us ordered the NY Strip.


  • No ordering appetizers first and entrees later. This is large.  Clearly, ordering something right away sounds like a good idea.  And we can nibble while we keep looking at the menu.  This is a huge problem.  Serving really good food is an orchestration of a trained and talented kitchen.  To season and cook an entrée properly, count on twenty minutes. If you’ve eaten your appetizers and chatted before ordering the main course you are, despite what you may think at the time, going to feel like dinner is taking forever.  Most restaurants that can get it out faster do so by pre-cooking the food and warming it up, or deep frying.

Really, Really Good Coffee


Without getting into too much detail, here’s how I make morning coffee.


  • Great coffee beans
  • Good grinder
  • Digital thermometer
  • Water filtered for chlorine, not minerals
  • Press Pot


All of these steps are very important:

  • Bring your water to between 200-204 degrees
  • Grind your beans while your water is heating up. You will want a grind somewhere between drip and espresso: fairly fine.  This will end up using less bean for better results.


I make a 48 oz. press pot in the morning.  For this I use a scant cup of beans, or about 80 grams (just under three ounces).  Put the ground coffee into the press pot.  Pour in half the heated water.  (Under 200 degrees does not bring out all of the flavor and oils.  Over 204 degrees and you will burn it.)  Using a neutral stirrer (wood spatula or chopstick), stir the coffee.  It will have swollen and released CO2.  Then add the remaining water.


Put the cover/plunger on but wait a good minute to let the coffee steep.  Then carefully push the plunger down.  Enjoy a perfect pot of coffee every time.


I’m Pretty Famous, Still

Yep.  I’ve been around a while, done a lot of great things.  Life is good.  Still, it’s nice to be acknowledged like I was recently on The Chew.  Michael Symon was demonstrating a unique crab cake, inspired by the “Great Chef” from The Frog and the Redneck.

A minor point:  He called me Jimmy Schmidt.

Tribute to Jean-Louis Palladin

* I found this today, not sure when I wrote it or for what occasion.  Enjoy. *


I’ve been asked to say a few kind words about Jean-Louis.  Yet looking back on the years of screaming that I endured, I have to question why they chose me.

Maybe it’s because I love him anyway.

Perhaps no chef in our lifetime has had a greater influence on cuisine in America than Jean-Louis Palladin.  When he came to the States in 1979, he arrived as the only Michelin-rated chef to open a restaurant here.  AND, the youngest two star Michelin in history.  The Washington Post, by way of William Rice, ran a two page story heralding this great young talent.  Henri Gault, of the Gault/Millaut guide, called Jean-Louis the greatest chef ever to leave France!  Their loss, our gain.

It was a very exciting moment and, although we didn’t know it at the time, American Cuisine was about to come into its own.  What happened next was magical.  First, Pan Am air cargo.  Then UPS.  Then FED EX.  Any product Jean-Louis wanted, Jean-Louis got.  He heard about a guy in Oregon picking wild mushrooms in a National Forest.  He had them the next day.  Another guy, in Maine, had divers in bell helmets picking up scallops off the ocean floor.  Jean-Louis wanted them, forget the cost.  Today, that guy, Rod Mitchell, sells seafood and caviar to virtually every top restaurant in America, including most every chef here tonight.

As an eager student, I watched Jean-Louis take product he had never worked with before, and turn it into a culinary delight.  Like his corn soup with lobster.  Fresh Heart of Palm, Golden Ossetra Caviar, Squid Ink, Lobster Coral, Live Baby Eel, and of course fresh foie gras, became regulars on his nightly, hand written menus.  Nothing got in the way of his needs, even if it meant smuggling in the equipment needed to force feed ducks.  Or smuggling in tiny, defenseless little ortelan, 300 of them.  Or smuggling in seeds for a melon, so sweet that it makes your hands sticky just to touch it.  A melon now sold as the Palladin melon.  Product was king, and Jean-Louis the Master.

I started with him in 1982.  I was just a kid, horny to learn from a master, any master.  He was the old master, much older than I.  And yet, when I do the math, I am shocked to realize that I was 29 years old and he was 35.  Jesus.  How is that possible?  And to think, I was actually scared of him.  But I was there to learn, and learn I did.  I learned about the passion, something you seldom learn in school, and seldom learned about in restaurants, way back when.  Yep, Jean-Louis takes home the Olympic medal for passion.  Anyone who has worked with him, in his own kitchen or in someone else’s kitchen, has seen it.  (And heard it.)  He cooks with all his energy, every time, every dish.  I know that one of the hardest things for him these last few months, is not being able to work the stove at his restaurant.  This man was born to cook.  His talent so great he even made a chef out of me.

Jean-Louis has asked that I express his gratitude to everyone here tonight, not only for being here and showing your support, but for being the kind of customer he needed in order to succeed, for without great appreciative customers, there would be no great restaurants.  And without great restaurants, life would suck.  (My words, not his.)  Your love and friendship over the years have kept him energized and made his life whole.  He wants you to know that he loves each and every one of you, unless Shoffner is in the room.

Good Is The Enemy Of Great

“Du beurre, encore du beurre, toujours du beurre.”

Fernand Point

 [As seen in Boomer Magazine’s October – November 2014 issue]

 Some 80 years ago, when asked what made French food so good Chef Point replied “Butter, more butter, always butter”.  Can it really be that simple?  I think not.  Think of it like money, more money, always money.  Sure, it sounds good on paper, but it’s hardly the whole picture.

Which begs the question: Just what is great food?

As a culture, Americans have quickly progressed from a kettle over a fire to Swanson’s TV Dinners, Howard Johnson’s fried clams (their corporate chef was once Jacques Pepin), big steakhouses and burger joints, Modern American Cuisine, and now, Farm to Table.

Chefs have been taught that great ‘western’ cuisine is based in six hundred years of French tradition and training.  The French wrote the book(s) on eating.  And rules there were: each sauce had a name and must be made exactly the same way each time.  If you tried to take a shortcut, you risked being locked in a cooler, or even slapped up the side of the head.  Why so serious?   Ask Escoffier, Carême, Brillat-Savarin and the other great (albeit dead) masters.  Or go watch Ratatouille again.

Then something changed; cooking became more about love than rules.  Do not misunderstand: French technique is a must.  It teaches us everything from flavor profiles to knife skills.  It teaches us that crushed shallots are bitter; but when cut with a very sharp knife they’re sweet and rich.  We learn the importance of seasoning foods at the right time in the process and what utensils to use for what results.


I learned a lesson nearly forty years ago while working at the original Le Cordon Bleu in Paris:  The chef had cracked an egg into a bowl and then, slowly and deliberately, he used his thumb to wipe the inside of the shell.  His reward was a smidgeon of egg white that would have been left behind.  He looked at me and said that one day I would understand why he did that.  I’m thinking, why bother?  It’s hardly worth the effort.  You know, time is money and all that.  Then, a few years deeper into my training I understood.  It’s not about economizing, it’s about respect; respect for the product.


So, if you’re looking for great food in a great restaurant, look for passion and certainly look for training and experience.  Good cooks can be self-taught, but great professional chefs cannot.  Like any great profession, you need to learn from those that came before you.

So what about the butter?  If you’re going to use butter, use good butter.  And use it in moderation.  Then add a bit more.


“If you stop eating butter, your skin will turn to dandruff.”

Julia Child

It’s Just Cheese

Sometimes in life there arrives an iconic incident that defines our lives, or careers.  Such a moment happened when we were opening SugarToad Restaurant and the Hotel Arista in Naperville, IL a few years back.

My chef de cuisine, Geoff Rhyne, was directing a delivery guy to the back kitchen so as to unload his hand truck stacked with our first inventory of food.  Delivery guy then took the top carton of food and, in effect, threw it to the floor at which Geoff instinctively yelled “Hey, what are you doing?”

Delivery guy looked at Geoff and said “Relax, it’s just cheese”.

Jesus cried.


Kicked out of Disney World

My good friend John Blazon is in town today.  Hopefully, we’ll grab a bite together.  He’s busy though.  You see, John is an MS, or Master Sommelier.  There aren’t many of them in the world, much less here in America.  He worked hard for it.  It took him four years to pass the test.

Now he works for a wine mogul.  But before that he was the wine guru at Disney World.  So when I was invited to participate in their Epcot Food and Wine Expo, I got to hang with my old buddy.  Well, not so much.  Disney provided my family with a VIP guide and we got to go to the front of the line on any ride we wished.  I highly recommend taking this route.

We had so much fun that when I spoke with John a couple of weeks later I told him I’d be glad to return next year.

“Not going to happen,” he said.  “Apparently you made quite a scene when you checked out, yelling and complaining about your accommodations.”

Now, I’ve been accused of a lot of things, none of which I will address here.  But yelling and complaining at a desk clerk?  Not me, not ever.  Something’s wrong here.  Anyway, it seems I’m banned.

Then I get a call from John a few weeks later.  It seems that it was a case of mistaken identity and the perp was one of the winemakers, not me at all.  Haha.  Joke’s on us.

“So,” I said, I’ll be back next year?”

“Well, not quite.  Remember the restaurant where you cooked dinner for 150 people?”


“Remember when you began plating up, two of the cooks had disappeared?”


“And when they showed up 10 minutes later they reeked of cigarettes so you told them that if they were so unprofessional as to walk out to smoke a cigarette in the middle of service they were no longer needed, so you sent them home?”


“Well, one of them was the Executive Chef of that restaurant.”