Talent, Creativity & Culinary Magnificence
Our Chefs for 2014 are still being determined, but to give you an idea of who came to play and manifest stunning food throughout last year’s magical weekend were the following:
Big Sur Food & Wine Festival 2013 ~ Chef Line-up
Executive Chef Matt Bolton ~ Pacific’s Edge Restaurant ~ Hyatt Carmel Highlands
Matt Bolton began his culinary arts career 17 years ago. Quickly drawn to the kitchen’s precision and intensity, he continued his education at various restaurants. Joining the Monterey Plaza Hotel in 1997, Bolton advanced during his three-year tenure and departed as the Duck Club’s lead cook. Matt then worked for Bernardus Lodge at the Marinus Restaurant as Sous Chef building his skills under the eye of Chef Cal Stamenov. Following this great experience, Matt joined the team of Quail Lodge as Chef de Cuisine with highlight of the Beard House Dinner in New York in July, 2009. In late 2009, Bolton joined the Pacific’s Edge team at Hyatt Carmel Highlands as Executive Sous Chef, and rose to Executive Chef overseeing all of Carmel Highlands F&B operations in the Spring of 2010. In his post, he manages daily operations for Pacific’s Edge, banquet functions and staff management. Bolton proudly supports many California based charities by participating in events such as Chef’s Holidays at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, CA, Harvest Carmel and Cooking For Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Jason Belestrieri ~ Executive Chef/Partner, Cantinetta Luca and Salumeria Luca
Jason Balestrieri is Executive Chef / Partner of Cantinetta Luca, Carmel’s popular and bustling neighborhood trattoria. Appointed to the position in 2008, Balestrieri offers the pure flavors of authentic Italian food in a casual, modern setting. With deep familial roots in Southern Italian cuisine, Chef Balestrieri specializes in handmade pastas, wood-oven baked pizza, unique varieties of house-cured salumi, roasted whole fish and meats served family-style. In September 2011 Balestrieri launched the neighboring Salumeria Luca, a wonderfully authentic Italian deli and bakery offering high-quality imported and house-made items. Growing up in Wisconsin, Balestrieri was steeped in his Italian family’s deep culinary traditions. After receiving his Culinary Arts degree from the Milwaukee Area Technical College, Balestrieri worked at a Milwaukee neighborhood café before moving to the highly regarded Pfister Hotel, where he trained as line and pantry cook. The sunny skies of California beckoned, however, and Balestrieri moved to Los Angeles in 1993, accepting a position at Pinot Bistro under chef/founder Joachim Splichal and executive chef Octavio Beccera. Dedicating the next five years to Twin Palms in Pasadena, Balestrieri advanced from sous chef to chef de cuisine under chef/owner Michael Roberts, and finally to executive chef at the Twin Palms in Valencia. In 2000, Jason’s association with Joachim Splichal evolved when he accepted a position as lead line cook at Los Angeles’ acclaimed Patina. He was quickly promoted to sous chef for Splichal’s Cafe Pinot, and for three years worked as executive chef at Pinot Hollywood. Ultimately, Jason became executive chef at Splichal’s Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse, where he assumed complete responsibility for all kitchen operations of the 250-seat restaurant. During his time with Splichal, Balestrieri was introduced to David Fink, a close friend of Splichal’s and owner of Cantinetta Luca and L’Auberge Carmel. Balestrieri became executive chef at Cantinetta Luca in 2006, and partner two years later.
Chef Brad Briske ~La Balena, Carmel by the Sea
Bradford Briske is the chef at La Balena, one of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s newest and most premiere restaurants. As the chef he is responsible for locating the freshest, most local and nearly always organic ingredients that is then transformed into hand made cuisine. Bradford, La Balena and his recipes have been mentioned recently in Edible Monterey, Monterey County Weekly and with Route 1 Farm. Before connecting with Anna and Emanuele Bartolini, Bradford was introduced to the local food community through Gabriella Café in Santa Cruz, after which he contributed to the opening of Main Street Garden in Soquel. After only being open for one month La Balena was voted the best new restaurant in Monterey County Weekly.
Learning through experience since 2005 after graduating from the Natural Gourmet Institute in Manhattan, Bradford continues to make honest, wholesome loving hand prepared food as if you were family and sitting at his table.
Executive Chef Phillip Burrus ~ Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA
Phillip Burrus is the executive chef at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. Each year, Esalen’s teaching kitchen introduces hundreds of students, apprentices, and volunteers to farm to table cooking and conscious teamwork.
Phillip also leads workshops on farmstead cooking and preservation for the contemporary kitchen.
He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and has cooked and taught in Big Sur since 2006.
Chef Justin Cogley ~ Aubergine Restaurant ~ awarded Food & Wine’s Best New Chef 2013
Justin Cogley was appointed chef de cuisine of Aubergine restaurant in January 2011, where he oversees Aubergine and all of L’Auberge Carmel’s culinary programs. Cogley comes to Carmel by way of Chicago, Illinois, where he was instrumental in opening the Elysian Hotel’s new kitchen as executive sous chef.
His style is a sophisticated balance between innovation and unwavering deference for the finest ingredients he procures. “If I had to describe my food,” Cogley says, “I would say each plate has a purpose.” Cogley’s goal is to inspire guests to enjoy a broad combination of flavors and textures. He may present a diner with a vegetable prepared three ways on his plate but, Cogley says, “each of the flavors will be unique and pure.”
Prior to his career as a chef, Cogley was a professional international figure skater performing with “Disney on Ice.” Traveling and touring with the show for four years in Asia, Australia and Europe, Cogley was exposed to new flavors and cuisines, as well as a myriad of food markets and international techniques. These culinary experiences confirmed his passion for food, travel, and good wine, and when he returned to the United States, he enrolled at the Western Culinary Institute and began working in select restaurants in Portland, Oregon. After graduating with top honors in 2005, he launched his culinary career on the team at Charlie Trotter’s.
Chef Jourdan De Sanctis grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has always had a strong passion to create, cook and eat great food. He went through the Culinary Arts program at Diablo Valley College and worked at a variety of restaurants. After Culinary school he worked very hard and aggressively moved up the ladder. He became of Executive Chef of Schooner’s Grill and Brewery at the age of 23. He worked as Executive Chef for several East Bay restaurants before ending up in Danville, California at Norm’s Place.
Chef Jourdan began his career at US Foods as a Sales Representative in 2007. In his first year he received the Rookie of the Year award. In July 2009 Jourdan became a Division Corporate Chef, so he could share his love for the culinary arts.
Executive Chef, Dyon J. Foster ~ Chef’s Kitchen, Hahn Estate
Raised near Houston, Texas, Dyon joined Hahn in 2012 and brings over a decade of wine and hospitality experience to the Hahn Estate culinary program. After a tour of duty in the United States Navy, he returned to the restaurant industry and worked as a server, bartender, wine steward, and restaurant manager developing diverse skills and feeding his passion for food and wine. Dyon’s eagerness to learn more about flavors and pairings led him to move from restaurant management to the kitchen. He graduated from the Culinary Center of Monterey in 2010. Dyon’s culinary style focuses on using high quality local ingredients that blend techniques and flavors from the Mediterranean, France, Germany, Mexico and the Pacific Rim. As the estate’s executive Chef, Dyon oversees all of the culinary programs at Hahn and personally creates unique menus for private luncheons. He also prepares imaginative pairings for Hahn’s wine club events, and publishes complementary original recipes for Hahn’s wines. In his spare time Dyon enjoys cooking with his friends and family, hiking, and working with his wife and son in the garden.
Shiho Fukushima – Chef ~ Ocean Sushi
After graduating from the prestigious Tsuji Cooking Academy in Osaka, Japan Masayasu “Chris” Fukushima and wife Toshimi (custom bento specialist/nutritionist/cook) opened Ocean Sushi Deli in 1986 as a sushi take-out specialty shop and catering business. Chef Chris pioneered the concept of sushi in local grocery stores so we delivered fresh sushi for over two decades to most markets, a few schools and CHOMP every morning. Catering sushi for the Marriott, Carmel Valley Ranch, Spanish Bay, Portola Plaza and Monterey Plaza Hotel keeps us busy as well as our small casual cafe in downtown Monterey that offers over 200 authentic Japanese delicacies featuring housemade gyoza, teriyaki sauces, broths and dressings. Chef Chris works out of the Pacific Grove take-out location while Toshimi and daughter Shiho run the Monterey location which also features the largest chilled sake selection in the area. Chef Chris is an avid ballroom dancer and local instructor, also a volunteer coach for York School on the side while Toshimi enjoys studying the art of tea ceremony and tennis as well. After a stint in the wine industry and IT Shiho moved back to her hometown after graduating from UCSB, teaching English in Japan on the JET Program, living in San Francisco, La Jolla and most recently Denver after realizing that food is her passion. Shiho is the GM and is a certified sake specialist, culinary concierge, food event coordinator and a freelance food contributor for the Monterey County Weekly Magazine. After recently discovering that she has severe gluten, soy and dairy allergies she started gluten free catering to help those with similar health issues. In August, she and her team participated at the 67th annual Monterey Obon Festival – an annual Japanese cultural summer festival where they ran a booth called “Gluten Free Shiho” and most likely the first gluten free food specialty vendor at an Obon festival in the world. On her spare time she enjoys hosting dinner parties and founded Make a Racket Foundation a non-profit. MARF’s vision is to provide underprivileged children life skills to succeed and thrive through the game of tennis. MARF will do this by providing necessary tennis equipment and mentorship to promote opportunities for their success. Monterey casual cafe deli, 165 Webster Street, Monterey, CA 93940, 831-645-9876. Pacific Grove take-out only, 2701 David Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 831-649-1320, www.oceansushi.com, www.racketfoundation.org, #glutenfreeshiho, www.shihointhecity.com
Chef Matt Glazer ~ Glen Oaks Big Sur Roadhouse
Glazer’s “Coastal Cajun” salutes the best of California’s cornucopia with a spin. Signature dishes include Monterey Bay Wild King Salmon and Halibut, expertly blackened with a searing 88-second pan fry, paired with a zesty cranberry bean, golden beet and corn succotash. The “Small Bites” menu sports a Lacinato Kale Caesar served in a julienne format, Southern-Fried Chicken Lollipop and Seabass Po’ Boy served with savory house-made Creole mustard.
Raised in New Orleans, Glazer honed his skills at the Culinary Institute of America before traversing the globe’s farms and kitchens. His journey came full circle in Big Sur holding posts at Esalen Institute and Big Sur Bakery prior to joining the Roadhouse. His passion for big flavors and unorthodox preparations are reflected in the fry-free Monterey Bay Calamari Creole showcasing his signature spice blend and Cajun trinity (onion, bell pepper, celery) as well as a gluten-free Big Sur Seafood Gumbo. Changing daily, the Gumbo’s slow-roasted vegetable roux and rich Monterey Bay halibut stock – infused with okra, spices, hand-made Andouille sausage and seasonal Dungeness crab – is art in a bowl. Grass-Fed New York Strip Steak with caramelized cipollino onions and fresh crimini mushrooms, Stuffed Portobello Mushroom with wilted chard and Braised Chicken Orleans dressed in a piquant red wine vinegar, tarragon and chervil blend then deglazed with a touch of cream round out the entrees. Big Sur Roadhouse is a pending member of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® program.
Executive Chef Aaron Hagerdorn ~ Prairie Kitchen and Bar ~ Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
A native to Ohio, Aaron was born and raised in Columbus and attended the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating, Aaron spent several years working and traveling throughout the Eastern United States to help him develop his new trade. From this, he has sharpened his skills featuring New American Cuisine, which emanates through all his menus.
Aaron joined the Hyatt Team in December 2007 and was quickly promoted to Executive Chef in August 2008, making him the youngest Chef in Hyatt Hotels. The combination of Aaron’s varied experiences and classic education prior to joining the Team, will bring a fresh and innovative spin to any events menu. Aaron and his talented team will sit with you to ensure that your menu will wow each and every guest.
Daniel Kelly~Chef de Cuisine ~Hyatt Regency Chicago, American Craft Kitchen & Bar
As Sous Chef of the 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago, the largest Hyatt property in North America, Chef Daniel Kelly oversees American Craft Kitchen & Bar, the three-meal restaurant located in the atrium lobby. Chef Kelly attended Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He began his Hyatt culinary career at Hyatt Regency Chicago in 1991 as Banquet Chef, Chef Garde Mange. His culinary talent took him to various restaurants in the city and surrounding suburbs of Chicago, including opening his own restaurant, D.Kelly Restaurant, in 2002 where it was named one of Chicago Magazine’s ‘Top 20 New Restaurants’. Most recently, Chef Kelly worked as the Chef de cuisine at Cyrano’s Farm Kitchen in Chicago, IL. Chef Kelly brings many years of culinary passion to Hyatt Regency Chicago’s American Craft Kitchen & Bar. His flair for farm-to-table concepts and talents in menu development and restaurant openings make Chef Kelly an effective leader and innovator in the culinary industry.
David Lawrence ~ Executive Chef, Managing Partner 1300 on Fillmore, San Francisco
1300 On Fillmore is a restaurant and lounge that draws on the rich cultural history of San Francisco’s Fillmore District, the city’s live music destination. 1300 on Fillmore features “Soulful American” cuisine, accompanied by a list of the finest California wines and a full bar. The restaurant opened in October, 2007, to rave reviews and has been wowing diners ever since. At the helm of the restaurant is executive chef and managing partner David Lawrence. At 1300 David Lawrence combines classic French cooking techniques with hints of southern flavors using fresh, California seasonal ingredients. Lawrence received his formal culinary training at Westminster College in London. In 1982 he joined England’s most celebrated and honored culinarians, Albert and Michael Roux, the chef proprietors of the world-renowned Le Gavroche and the Waterside Inn (both three star Michelin restaurants). Lawrence worked at five of the Roux brothers’ establishments, rapidly advancing from apprentice to sous chef in four short years. In 1986, Lawrence was appointed as chef de cuisine at London’s chic Interlude Restaurant where he had the honor of preparing meals for the Prince and Princess of Wales; Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon; and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A native of London, Lawrence left England for the United States in 1988 to join former Le Gavroche Chef Kurt Graising at the newly-opened 231 Ellsworth Restaurant in San Mateo. Serving as Chef de Cuisine, Lawrence worked closely with Graising to help shape the restaurant’s menu and culinary vision, an effort rewarded by numerous awards and accolades during Lawrence’s tenure. Prior to opening his own restaurant, Lawrence led a talented kitchen staff at The Carnelian Room, creating an eclectic menu featuring French-inspired California cuisine, and served as chef de cuisine at Cityscape Restaurant in San Francisco. While at Cityscape, Lawrence devised and implemented the Chefs for Kids program, raising thousands of dollars for the Tenderloin After School program. The City of San Francisco recognized Lawrence’s efforts by awarding him a proclamation, declaring March 10, 1994 “David Lawrence Day.” At 1300 on Fillmore, his “comfort food, done well” includes signature items include fresh water shrimp hush puppies, organic skillet fried chicken served with whipped potatoes, maple syrup marinated slow-braised short ribs with buttermilk chive mashed potatoes and deep-fried onion rings, and barbecue shrimp served with creamy hominy grits topped with micro greens. (www.1300fillmore.com)
Frank Ostini, Owner/ Chef/ Winemaker ~ Hitching Post II
Frank Ostini grew up in and around the Casmalia Hitching Post, his family’s steakhouse in central California since 1952. Specializing in traditional wood fire barbecue, Frank has expanded his menu to cook most anything over the embers at his Hitching Post II restaurant in Buellton, California. With high acclaim from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Gourmet and Sunset magazines and enthusiastic support from Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay, Frank has become the regional spokesman for what is popularly known as “Santa Maria Style BBQ”, a feast that features meats grilled over a red oak fire. Since 1984 Frank Ostini, with partner Gray Hartley, has also made Hitching Post Wines, specializing in Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. Frank has recently received widespread international attention since his Hitching Post II and Hitching Post Pinot Noirs were featured in the Academy Award® winning film Sideways. The winery has 800 barrels and produces about 15,000 cases a year. “When we started to make wine I had one purpose” says Frank. “To get good wine on my family restaurant’s table- wine that I produced. Doing the food and wine is all I ever wanted to do, and it’s still all I ever really want to do”.
Chef Brian Overhauser ~ Jamieson Ranch Vineyards ~Director of Culinary Operations
Chef Brian brings over 20 years of experience to Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, most recently as Estate Chef at Hahn Family Wines in Monterey, CA. “I nurture a great passion for both wine and food, and take pride in designing menus that truly enhance what’s in the glass,” states Chef Brian. As a child he was influenced by multi-cultural cuisine, which blossomed into a fascination with the nuances of flavors. Twenty years ago a voyage to one of the world’s top wine and culinary destinations, Burgundy, set him on his career path (and bestowed upon him a love for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). He enrolled in Paris’ Ecole de Gastromie, earning his degree, and then studied at London’s prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine. His time in restaurants, kitchens, tasting rooms and cellars around the globe has given him a unique and insightful approach to pairing food with wine. Five years ago Chef Brian decided to make California wine country his home. “To me, there’s just nothing better than gathering around a table with family and friends over a fine bottle of wine paired with a delicious meal of fresh and local food products, from the surrounding area. With Jamieson Ranch’s handcrafted wines, farming philosophy, Chef’s organic gardens and even estate-produced honey, I’ve been given a great palette to create these indelible experiences for our guests.” Chef Brian will be creating the framework for Jamieson Ranch Vineyard’s expansive culinary program. We understand that visitors coming to Napa Valley are seeking a fully integrated epicurean program that complements the wines they are tasting. The Jamieson Ranch culinary and hospitality program is designed to enhance our customers’ overall tasting experience. The food pairings will expose them to additional layers of flavor in our wines that will bring together world class wine, food and unparalleled ambiance.
Executive Chef Jerry Regester ~ C Restaurant, Intercontinental Hotel – The Clement Monterey
Executive Chef Jerry Regester focuses on using local organic ingredients to create seasonal fare with rustic elegance and refined flavors. The cuisine at the C is regional with emphasis in seafood and blending in a variety of local seasonal products. “Great cuisine starts with great ingredients”, Regester says. the C restaurant + bar is proud to comply with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and support local farms, organically-grown ingredients and sustainability. “We are committed to a seasonally-inspired cuisine – focusing on fresh, local and sustainable ingredients – that supports our local purveyors”. said Chef Regester. An award-winning chef with numerous accomplishments, Regester most recently served as the executive chef for the First Annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine event, which involved planning, organizing, and managing logistics for more than 50 of the country’s top chefs throughout the four-day event at the famed Pebble Beach resort.focuses on using local organic ingredients to create seasonal fare with rustic elegance and refined flavors.
Chef Michael Rotondo ~ Parallel 37 ~ Ritz Carlton, San Francisco
Parallel 37 has become a destination for contemporary American cuisine influenced by the cultures and ingredients found along the San Francisco Bay Area’s geographic latitude. New Chef de Cuisine Michael Rotondo, most recently executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, brings a refined and globally-inspired cuisine to Parallel 37, located inside The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. His dishes are focused yet fun, artistically creative and intriguing, expertly paired with hand-crafted cocktails, beer and wine. “There are few cities in the world where such incredible ingredients are available locally and in season almost year-round, and fewer still so close to the epicenter of the wine culture in the United States. Being a chef for me is about the complete food and wine experience.” During his tenure at Charlie Trotter’s, in 2008, Chef Rotondo received the “Most Promising Chef” award from Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller after competing for the United States Bocuse d’Or, widely regarded as the epitome of culinary competitions worldwide. “Chef Trotter taught me the art of cooking with subtlety and finesse, focusing on what’s most important – a truly balanced and exceptional dining experience,” said Chef Rotondo. Prior to joining Charlie Trotter’s, Chef Rotondo worked at the Five-Star, Five Diamond Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., experiencing a unique type of cuisine focusing on flavors from South Florida and Latin America. He also lived in Europe for two years, working in multiple Michelin star restaurants, traveling and tasting the bounties from different countries, including a stint beside Paul Bocuse in France. Chef Rotondo plans to interpret the Parallel 37 restaurant concept with a focus on food and wine found along the 37th parallel, the circle of latitude running through the San Francisco Bay Area, and an eye towards globally inspired California cuisine. Chef Rotondo brings a sense of fun to his often-changing, interactive menus. Dinner options include a farm fresh hen egg with caramelized brussels sprouts and sweet & sour rhubarb; Dungeness crab with green tomato and Thai basil linguini; or Oxtail with nasturtium, chocolate and honey mustards. Restaurant manager Justin Kindel hand-selects optional beverage pairings for the menu each evening. To book a reservation, please call 415-773-6168 or visit www.opentable.com. Additional information may be found at parallel37sf.com.
Jonathan Roberts – Culinary Mastermind ~ Pig Wizard
The PigWizard, a.k.a. Jonathan Roberts, is not easily biographied. There is not a list of notable restaurants, butchers, or jobs that make him look seriously committed to a life in the food industry. Nor does he have a culinary school degree, despite having taught at one, or even a high school diploma. His resume isn’t even all food related, having done a 3 year apprenticeship with a wildlife metal sculptor, 4 years as a part time cabinet maker, and a year with a blacksmith. In spite of all of that, food is a central theme in his life, and he finds ways to tie together all of his working and traveling experiences into delicious and inventive food. While he rarely opens cookbooks, but you can find scores of research papers on food science and nutrition stored in his laptop, and reads frequently about the history of food. An avid mushroom hunter, spearfisherman, roadside berry picker, and mid-night fruit forager, Jonathan refuses to go to the gym, but will climb mountains and brave icy currents if there is free food to be found. The name PigWizard came from one of his students while teaching a week of pork butchery and charcuterie at the now closed Culinary Center of Monterey in 2008. Jonathan liked the name so much he started putting it on labels of sausage that he sold to former customers of Monte Vista Market in Monterey, where he had worked on and off for 5 years learning the then-disappearing craft of whole animal butchery. With a fun name, the unforgettable logo, and delicious pork products, PigWizard quickly developed a cult following. Getting the product to the masses has had many challenges, due to the labyrinthine-like regulations of various state and federal agencies. So in May of 2012, PigWizard left the country, spending nine months in Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Italy with his newlywed wife, to whom he proposed to at the end of BSF&W in 2011. It was a chance to recharge and refocus, as well as eat really well and learn some new techniques and recipes. Since returning in January, Jonathan and Nicole have been scouting for locations and opportunities to open a full butchershop and deli in the Monterey area.
Ben Spungin, Pastry Chef ~ Marinus – Bernardus Lodge
Ben Spungin is the Pastry Chef at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, California. For the past five years, Ben has been working alongside Chef Cal Stamenov to develop pastry creations that compliment Stamenov’s signature California natural cuisine. Originally from Durham, NC, Ben started his culinary career at sixteen; working at the acclaimed Fosters Market. This experience of ‘simple harvest food’ gave Ben a foundation to base his ideals and ambitions. In 1996, Ben attended the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont earning his Associates degree. Ben’s school internship was at the Magnolia Grill in Durham under James Beard award winning Chefs Ben and Karen Barker. After finishing school in 1998, a spontaneous opportunity opened at the French Laundry to work under Pastry Chef Stephen Durfee and Pastry Sous Shuna Lydon. This adventure opened Ben’s eyes to endless possibilities of the pastry world. Inspired by the micro climates around the Monterey Peninsula, Ben took the Pastry Chef position at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, quickly developing an interest in wild and foraged ingredients. In 2005, Ben became the Pastry Chef at the Bernardus Lodge under Chef Cal Stamenov. Chef Cal, a former Pastry Chef himself, and Ben have a collaborative relationship anchored by their passion for quality ingredients. Ben has participated in number charitable events including American Wine and Food Festival in Los Angeles, the National Truffle Fest in Asheville, NC and The Chanterelle Festival in Big Sur. Ben currently lives on the Big Sur coastline with his wife and two adorable little girls.
Cal Stamenov, Culinary Director/ Chef ~ Marinus – Bernardus Lodge ~ Best Chef 2012/2013 Monterey County Weekly.
Cal grew up on the California Central Coast in a rural area outside of San Francisco. He was lucky to discover his talent and passion early in life: love of the land, of good food and cooking. He entered culinary training right out of high school. After graduation in 83′, Stamenov entered the suitcase phase of life, and hopped around the world 15 years. Opportunity returned him to his Northern California roots where quality ingredients from the land and from the sea at his fingertips. Friendships with local fisherman, growers & foragers are truly invaluable. Highlights of his day are having fisherman drop off one hundred pounds of fresh Monterey Bay spot prawns or a forager unexpectedly arriving at the kitchen door with a basket of chanterelle Big Sur mushrooms. Fusions of vineyards and gardens literally at his door, Stamenov embraces foods he loves most – wood fired grill, California olive oil, garden-fresh vegetables and herbs, wines and vines & natural flavors.At Bernardus Lodge, guests enjoy Cal’s Natural cuisine in two unique dining rooms — Marinus Restaurant and Wickets Bistro. These venues offer the best of Carmel Valley wine country living from the lush mountain views, extensive wine selections and distinctive ingredients. Marinus at Bernardus Lodge has been enjoying high praise since the resort opened in 1999, and has won Wine Spectator magazine’s highly coveted “Grand Award” for its wine cellar since 2001. Marinus holds 4-stars from the Mobil Travel Guide for its outstanding menu, service and ambiance. Since 2001, the Zagat Survey has noted Marinus as one of the Top Restaurants and Most Romantic places south of San Francisco.
Partnering with local charities, particularly those having to do with schools and environmental issues. He is the honorary Co-Chair of Dinner in the Vineyard; MEarth’s annual fundraiser that benefits the thousands of students from across Monterey County who experience, learn, and grow with MEarth at the Hilton Bialek Habitat. In addition, he donates his time participating in events such as Cooking for Solutions, Pebble Beach Food and Wine and the Monterey Wine Education Foundation. For several years Stamenov was at the helm of several annual and prestigious international gatherings such Masters of Food & Wine event and The Quail Motorsports Rally. Most recently, he has taken culinary charge of Gordon McCall’s Motorworks Revivial event, benefiting the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation. The celebrated 3,000 person event showcases Chef Cal’s unique ability to bring to high quality culinary craftsmanship to a party of any size. He resides just a few miles down the road from Bernardus Lodge with his three daughters in one of the most beautiful and desirable corners of the world. Together they tend to over 40 rare fruit trees, herbs, vegetables, flowers and bees in their backyard; having discovered both the satisfaction of watching something grow and the thrill of harvesting what they planted.
R. Kent Torrey ~ President & CEO* (Cheese Eating Oenophile) ~ The Cheese Shop, Inc., Located in the Carmel Plaza, Carmel-by-the- Sea California
Question: what provides your senses with delectable eye candy, sensual smells, all while tantalizing your taste buds? Answer: everything at THE CHEESE SHOP!!! Simply put, Kent and his staff of The Cheese Shop Inc, in downtown Carmel~by~the~Sea, California, ROCKS when it comes to their selections of wonderful world class wines, their incredible array of cheeses, and gastronomic gourmet foods!!! A visit to Carmel is just not complete without a stop at this world-renowned store! On any given day you will find Kent and his extremely amiable staff sampling from over 200 different cheeses from around the world, passing along to the customers wonderful insights from the history of that particular cheese’s origins, or how that cheese can be used in intricate dishes, to tips on throwing great wine & cheese tasting parties, or how to pack a romantic picnic full of their goodies to be enjoy while watching a stunning sunset at the Carmel beach. Hearsay has it that many marriage proposals were the results of such picnics! Over the years, Kent has been fortunate enough to assist the public and professional trade through various media sources, publications and staged events with highlights including: this October’s inaugural LA Food & Wine Festival, the World of Pinot Noir Festival, Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Masters of Food & Wine, Blackberry Farm, Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Taste of Washington, the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, and this year’s Central Coast Classic. In addition The Cheese Shop has been featured on the Travel Channel worldwide as a “Must See Destination” & showcased on the Food Network for their world famous pesto. Being from the state of Hawaii, Kent has infused the “O’hana” spirit into this family oriented business, which has celebrated 40 years of eating and drinking! Kent’s mantra: “Eat Cheese, Drink Wine, Live Life Happy!!”
Chef Ted Walter ~ Passionfish
Chef Ted Walter earned a BA in English from the UCSB in ’81, with the intention of becoming a writer. But while at college, he worked in restaurants. By the time he graduated, he realized his true creative calling was in the preparation of great meals. “I don’t think I meant to do it,” says Ted. “But I just fell in love with working in restaurants and never looked back.” Ted trained as a classic French chef in restaurants across the country, before perfecting his own, California-influenced culinary style: highlighting sustainable seafood and fresh, local produce to create meals that are delicious, healthy and kind to the planet. He opened Passionfish in 1997, with his wife Cindy as partner and business manager. “I’ve always loved cooking fish,” he says. “When you work at most restaurants, fish is most likely a special. But for me, there are more fish dishes in my repertoire than duck or lamb.” Ted sources his ingredients from Carmel Valley farms, local markets, and the fishers of Monterey Bay. His recipes express the fresh flavors of the seasons, often enhanced with one of his signature sauces. Ted’s “sustainable living” philosophy is one that was born of necessity. When he began having difficulty finding ingredients that had been readily available in the past, he knew he had to change the way he shopped, the way he cooked, even the way he prints his menus. A certified green restaurant, and one that has become a destination for food enthusiasts, Passionfish is proof that sustainable living can be good living — and that true artists will find their way.
Cy Yontz ~ Executive Chef ~ Rio Grill
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Denver, Yontz began working in kitchens as a teenager, but attributes his first real love of food to his apprenticeship under his mentor, celebrity chef, author and self-proclaimed “Dean of Southwestern Cuisine,” Jimmy Schmidt (Chianti on Main, Chianti Tucson Grill, Rattlesnake Club). In Denver, Yontz worked with restaurateur Kevin Taylor at Palletes Restaurant and Café Z in the Denver Art Museum before expanding both his geographic and culinary horizons at Pranzo Italian Grill, a well-known celebrity hangout in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Moving from Italian to Southwestern cuisine, Yontz then worked with Chef Mark Miller at Santa Fe’s Coyote Café.
In 2001, Yontz ventured briefly to Houston where he served as corporate R&D chef for Pappas Restaurants, implementing award-winning themes and recipes in more than 70 locations before returning to Santa Fe as executive chef at Someone’s in the Kitchen, an upscale catering company. Yontz has achieved great success in the various markets in which he has served, garnering praise from regional associations and media, and culminating in an invitation to the prestigious James Beard House in 2002. Yontz recently returned to his native California to raise his family and serve as executive chef at Rio Grill where he hopes to crystallize his creative culinary vision.
Jacques Zagouri ~ Chef De Cuisine ~ Andre’s Bouchee
Jacques Zagouri graduated from Ecole Hôtelière de Nice, France in 1988, and received his apprenticeship at Moulin de Mougins, France. As a very young man he began weaving his tapestry of culinary passion and is now renowned for his many culinary delights, specializing in Middle Eastern, Italian, French & Kosher Fine Dining Cuisine. He has attracted a diverse clientele for Andre’s Bouchee and is Chef de Cuisine in Carmel by the Sea, owned by Elizabeth Lemaire. Jacques expanded his culinary passion by developing specialty French kosher cuisine both in France and Israel. His ambition led him to the United States where he became Executive Chef at Le Deauville French Bistro in Lexington, Kentucky after a short stint in Las Vegas working as Executive Chef for Village Steakhouse. Elizabeth and Andres son, Stephane Lemaire brought Jacques to Andre’s Bouchee in 2009. Chef Jacques Zagouri prepares authentic French Bistro Cuisine with a California Coastal flair. The restaurant’s friendly atmosphere buzzes with excitement and energy that makes you feel you are dining in one of the small neighborhoods inside Paris.