Gabriel Stulman

Founder/CEO

Fairfax, Virginia
Favorite Will Farrell character: Ricky Bobby

Gabriel Stulman

Founder/CEO

Gabriel first developed his passion for the hospitality industry while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and working in local restaurants. In 2009 after several years spent working in and opening restaurant in New York, Gabriel founded Happy Cooking along with his wife Gina with the opening of Joseph Leonard in the West Village. In the years since, Happy Cooking has added four more restaurants to the family. Gabriel has been featured in Crain’s New York Business “40 Under 40” and was named the 2012 “Restaurateur of the Year” by Esquire magazine.

Gina Stulman

Co-Founder

Miami, FL
Favorite Will Ferrell character: Ron Burgundy

Gina Stulman

Co-Founder

Gina moved to New York City in 1999 to study dance and theater. Her first hospitality job was at the Hudson Hotel, where she worked her way up from cocktail waitress to event manager. She then worked on event production for STARR Restaurants at Buddakan and Morimoto, before landing as an event director at Norwood, a private arts club. In 2009, Gina and Gabe opened Joseph Leonard together, and the rest is history.

Matt Kebbekus

Managing Partner- Operations

Madison, WI
Favorite Will Ferrell character: Mugatu

Matt Kebbekus

Managing Partner- Operations

Matt began working in restaurants in high school with a job at his parent’s favorite Madison restaurant and continued to work in local restaurants throughout college. After working in San Francisco at Hawthorne Lane and Delfina, Matt relocated to NYC to join the team at the newly opened Joseph Leonard, eventually holding every front of house position before becoming the general manager at Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey’s Grocery across the street. He then helped to open Perla as a partner and general manager, before moving in to his current role overseeing operations for all the Happy Cooking restaurants.

Brian Bartels

Managing Partner- Bar Operations

Reedsburg, WI
Favorite Will Ferrell character: Robert Goulet

Brian Bartels

Managing Partner- Bar Operations

Brian’s hospitality career began when he tended bar at many well-known local Madison establishments while exploring his passion for writing and theater. After relocating to New York in his 20s, he tended bar at The Red Cat for four years and then helped open several restaurants. In 2009, Brian joined the opening team at Joseph Leonard as a bartender. Brian’s role with Happy Cooking continued to grow as he went on to serve as the general manager at Fedora when it opened in 2011. He’s now the director of bar operations for the group, overseeing the cocktail and beverage programs at all HCH restaurants.

James McDuffee

Managing Partner- CCO

Grand Rapids, MI
Favorite Will Ferrell character: Spartan cheerleader

James McDuffee

Managing Partner- CCO

James began working in restaurants at the age of 16 to save up for a car. He attended the Culinary Institute of America, then worked in kitchens in Michigan, New Orleans and Miami. After moving to New York, he worked at Pace before opening L'Esquina as the executive chef. From there he worked at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center for four years. He served as the executive chef of Joseph Leonard when it opened in 2009 and is now Happy Cooking’s chief controlling officer (aka “wearer of many hats.”)

Matt Griffin

Partner, Chef at Bar Sardine & Fedora

Bloomfield, CT
Favorite Will Ferrell character: Frank the Tank

Matt Griffin

Partner, Chef at Bar Sardine & Fedora

A native of Bloomfield, Connecticut, Matt moved to New York City after college, first working as a server and then in advertising. Cooking quickly became his favorite hobby and, after a soul-searching trek through Southeast Asia, Matt decided to pursue it as a vocation. From there, he cooked in Nantucket, Lake Tahoe, and then Las Vegas as Chef de Cuisine at Rick Moonen's RM Seafood. After staging in Italy, France, and elsewhere, Matt eventually landed back in New York City at Le Bernardin. In 2011, Matt joined the Happy Cooking family at Jeffrey's Grocery, later moving to Fedora as sous chef, and then becoming the Chef de Cuisine. Matt helped to open Bar Sardine down the street in the summer of 2014 before being named a partner and the Executive Chef of both Fedora and Bar Sardine in 2015.  In 2016 Matt partnered Fedora and Bar Sardine with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.  For his commitment to the sustainable seafood movement Matt was selected to become a member of their Blue Ribbon Task Force. 

Elena Silva

Director of Events & Guest Relations

Mays Landing, NJ
Favorite Will Ferrell character: Megamind

Elena Silva

Director of Events & Guest Relations

Elena was working in NYC as a makeup artist when she decided to search for an evening job to help pay the bills. During a walk through Union Square she passed Gramercy Tavern and was inspired by the restaurant's floral arrangements to fill out an application. She ended up getting hired, and quickly developed a passion for food and beverage as she learned from the restaurant's dedicated team. After over three years as part of the service team at Gramercy Tavern, Elena moved to Tom Colicchio's Craft Restaurants. She spent seven years with the company, including two as their corporate events director. Elena then oversaw events at another restaurant group and a renowned hotel before joining the Happy Cooking team in 2014.