Meet Chef Stephen

Stephen A. Kalil, better known as Chef Stephen, is an accomplished culinary professional and strategic leader in the field of culinary research and innovation. He's also a passionate foodie, an archivist of traditional Middle-Eastern recipes, and a believer that at its core, food is comprised of souls, stories, family, and flavor. 


Chef Stephen is both a Certified Executive Chef (CEC) with the American Culinary Federation and a Certified Research Chef (CRC) with the Research Chefs Association. 

His career in food service began as a teenager in the late 1970s at Steve’s Backroom, his family’s business in Detroit, Michigan, which specialized in freshly prepared Middle-Eastern food. As manager and later as executive chef of Steve’s Backroom, Stephen managed the restaurant, wholesale, and catering kitchens and was integral in developing new food products and increasing sales by 200% over three years. This experience led him to California in 1997, where he expanded his knowledge of food, flavors, and menu development for casual dining as chef de cuisine for Culinary Research and Development at The Cheesecake Factory.

Stephen developed new recipes and procedures for The Cheesecake Factory, designing variations on traditional and popular dishes. He was also instrumental in opening many of the company’s new concepts including The Grand Lux Café, The Cheesecake Factory Bakery Café, and The Cheesecake Factory Express. In 2002, Stephen’s expertise in menu development brought him to Chili’s Grill & Bar (Brinker International), where he worked as Director of Culinary Innovation.

In July of 2007, Stephen joined PepsiCo and Frito Lay as their first ever corporate chef. In this role, he led a global team of chefs for PepsiCo and inspired product development through the application of Culinology—the blending of culinary arts and food science and technology. Stephen and his team were instrumental in designing iCrave, a process of integrating culinary design with consumer insights, food science, technology, design, and marketing; iCrave is responsible for delivering over 4 billion dollars in innovation globally.

As the founder and owner of Flavor Design Studio, today Stephen works as a full-time independent consultant and strategist for major food brands and companies across the United States and beyond. He excels at drawing from his vast network to assemble strategic teams suited to each client's unique project requirements.


  • Past president, Culinology Education Foundation
  • Past president and current board member, Research Chefs Association (RCA) | RCA President’s Award (2011)
  • Certified Executive Chef, American Culinary Federation (ACF)
  • Featured speaker, Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference, RCA Annual Conferences, Culinary Institute of America Culinary Conferences
  • Distinguished Visiting Chef, Johnson & Wales University
  • Adjunct Lecturer for the Culinology Degree Program at Taylor's University, Kuala Lumpur