Chefs, Sommeliers & Musicians


World-renowned celebrity and local executive chefs are coming together to celebrate the Festival. Join us on Saturday and Sunday to experience live cooking demos, tastings and book signings with celebrity chefs while OC’s finest chefs will be in the Grand Tasting Pavilions serving up savory bites and mingling with guests.

True Food Kitchen

Nobu Matsuhisa is the creative force behind Nobu Restaurants, coupling time-honored classic Japanese dishes with inventive new flavors and cooking techniques. Chef Nobu’s cuisine pays homage to his formative years as a Tokyo sushi restaurant apprentice while celebrating his later travels in South America, where experimentation in local spices and cooking techniques created the foundation for his contemporary Japanese culinary style. Chef Nobu assesses both the quality and availability of fish and sushi chefs at each potential new restaurant location. His ability to source promising sushi chef candidates ensures a rich talent pool for the Nobu Restaurants network. As Nobu Restaurants has expanded around the globe, Chef Nobu has increased his focus on quality control, undertaking among the sushi chefs. Chef Nobu is also responsible for teaching his new fishes to head chefs across the Nobu network, passing along his cutting edge culinary innovations without sacrificing consistency.

Fleur & Burger Bar

Hubert Keller, a Frenchman classically trained by France’s top Chefs, is now one of America’s most widely recognized and acclaimed chefs. Chef Keller reside in Las Vegas, where he operates Fleur by Hubert Keller, featuring his contemporary French cooking accented with cuisine around the world. With his palate-attuned to America’s evolving tastes, Chef Keller launchedhis widely popular Burger Bar Restaurants in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Beijing.

He has won numerous awards including the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: California and has been elected to the Foundation’s prestigious Who’s Who in Food and Beverage. Food and Wine magazine tapped him as one of the Ten Best Chefs in America, and Restaurant & Institutions gave him its Ivy Award.

Chef Keller has cooked for several United States Presidents and was the first guest chef invited to the White House to personally prepare his sophisticated menu to President Clinton and his family. Chef Keller is also know for his performance as a judge on Top Chef as well as for his grace-under-pressure performance as a contestant in the first season of Top Chef Masters on Bravo. Chef Keller was as well a resident judge on Top Chef Just Desserts on Bravo.

Keller appears frequently in the media including appearances on “The Chew” on ABC, “Regis & Kelly” on ABC, “Rachel Ray”, “The Travel Channel“, “ The Food Channel Network”, “The Real House Wife’s from Orange County”, “Good Morning America”, and “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern. Chef Keller’s own cooking show, Secrets of a Chef, airs on PBS and is currently in Season 4.

Dubbed a “Rebel with a Cuisinart” in the New York Times for his early championing of original, multi-course vegetarian menu in a 4-start setting. Chef Keller consistently cooks with a light hand and an eye on health. This led to his developing recipes for inclusion in Dr. Dean Ornish’s best selling cookbook, Eat More, Weigh Less.

Chef Keller’s own cookbooks include The Cuisine of Hubert Keller (Ten Speed Press) and Burger Bar, Build your Own Burgers (Willey0. And his latest cookbook “Souvenirs” Memoires, Stories and Recipes from My Life, written with Penelope Wisner, (Andrews McMeel) released October 2012.

Da Kikokiko

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Brooke Williamson has carved out an impressive résumé full of leading roles and professional achievement, such as being the youngest female chef to ever cook at the James Beard House. Although officially beginning her career at the young age of 17, Williamson always wanted to be a chef for as long as she can remember. “I love creating things that make people happy, and I’ve found that food genuinely does that,” she explains.

Williamson began her culinary career as a teacher’s assistant at the Epicurean Institute of Los Angeles, followed by securing her first kitchen position as a pastry assistant at Fenix at the Argyle Hotel, under the tutelage of Michelin-starred Chef Ken Frank. Her undeniable star quality and concentrated creative energy brought her to Chef Michael McCarty’s nationally acclaimed restaurant Michael’s of Santa Monica, where she worked her way up from line cook to being their youngest sous chef. Desiring to travel and experience other restaurants, Williamson later staged at the renowned Daniel restaurant by Chef and Owner Daniel Boulud in New York City. Two years later, Williamson was appointed her first executive chef position at the notable Los Angeles restaurant Boxer. Following that, she opened the Brentwood eatery Zax as Executive Chef, where she began to develop her signature California-inspired cuisine—infused with local ingredients, global flavors, and centered around the idea that simplicity goes a long way. While at Zax, she also met her husband and business partner Nick Roberts.

The two opened their first independent venture together a couple years later, Amuse Café in Venice, followed by Beechwood restaurant soon after, earning them the title of “Rising Star Chefs” from StarChefs in 2004. Although both are now closed, in 2009, the wife and husband team opened Hudson House, an elevated gastropub in Redondo Beach, followed by The Tripel in 2011, a modern American and craft beer dining destination in the neighboring beachfront community of Playa del Rey. During that time, Williamson became certified by The Court of Master Sommeliers, given her strong interest in wine that first sparked in the early 2000s after traveling extensively through France and Spain. In 2014, the culinary couple debuted a unique four-in-one-concept, Playa Provisions, featuring a grab-and-go marketplace, King Beach; an artisanal ice cream shop, Small Batch; a seafood dining spot, Dockside; and an intimate whiskey bar, Grain. Williamson was a runner-up on Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 10 in Seattle, which catapulted her career and led to her participating in other national shows like Bravo’s “Top Chef Duels,” Esquire network’s “Knife Fight” (where she took home the win), and starring as the host and mentor on MTV’s “House of Food.” In June 2015, Williamson and Roberts opened Tripli-Kit, a culinary-focused retail store, selling unique kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and other cooking essentials. In October 2016, the duo debuted their fifth venture in Playa Vista, a fast casual, Hawaiian concept called Da Kikokiko, celebrating Hawaii’s popular street foods, including: poké, shave ice, and musubi. During her day-to-day operations, she works alongside Roberts creating new menus, running the front and back of the house, and managing their multiple concepts.

When she finds time outside of her many ventures, Williamson stays active by running, bike riding, and playing chase with her 8-year-old son, Hudson.


Born and raised in Beijing China, Chef Shirley Chung was exposed to international cuisine at an early age by her grandmother, Liang Si Yi, former Director of The Red Cross in China. Shirley immigrated to America at age 17 for college and worked in Silicon Valley for a few years after graduating. Shirley decided to follow her passion for food so she left her career in high tech behind and enrolled in California Culinary Academy San Francisco. She is trained in classic French and Italian cuisine, worked and opened restaurants for Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali. After she opened CarneVino as Chef de Cuisine for the Batali group, CarneVino earned multiple awards for Best Steak House internationally. Prior to being a finalist on season 11 of “Top Chef” in New Orleans, she held the Executive Chef Position at China Poblano, by Jose Andres, which was nominated for the Best New Restaurant Award by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. While working at China Poblano, she fell in love with Mexican cuisine and learned more about her own heritage. In 2014, Shirley opened a restaurant in Orange County, Twenty Eight, featuring modern Chinese cuisine.  Recently, Shirley has been competing on season 14 of BravoTV’s Top Chef. She used this opportunity to showcase her Chinese American Cuisine during the competition and she was rewarded by being named the runner up of Top Chef. Shirley is currently working on opening her next concept in Los Angeles. Steamers Co. is a fast-casual counter service seafood driven restaurant with an oyster bar.

Herb & Wood

Chef Brian Malarkey has created more than a dozen wildly successful restaurants across the United States including Herb & Wood, his newest concept in San Diego’s buzzing gastronomic neighborhood of Little Italy, which Zagat named one of 2016’s biggest restaurant openings and the San Diego Union Tribune is calling, “the most thoughtful, exquisitely executed, stylish restaurant of the year.” Malarkey’s other restaurants, under the management of Hakkasan Group – a worldwide entertainment, dining, nightlife, and hospitality company, include Searsucker (San Diego, Del Mar, Austin, Las Vegas) and Herringbone (La Jolla, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Las Vegas). He is also the partner/operator of three healthy, fast-service restaurants in San Diego named Green Acre, and Farmer & The Seahorse and chef/partner of Herb & Eatery, a market and cafe, connected to Herb & Wood. He is a regular judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, makes regular appearances on the Today Show, and was a Top Chef finalist and a winning mentor on ABC’s The Taste.

Chef Fabio Viviani has possessed a passion for food since his childhood growing up in Florence, Italy. Between his training in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at IPSSAR Saffi and working with culinary luminaries such as Alessandro Panzani and Saverio Carmagini, Viviani owned and operated five restaurants in Florence, a farm house, and two nightclubs by the time he was 27. Although a well-respected businessman in Italy, he was ready for a change and in 2005, Viviani moved to Ventura County, CA, where he opened Café Firenze in Moorpark, CA.

Teaming up with one of Chicago’s most innovative restaurant consulting groups, Dine|Amic, Viviani went on to open Siena Tavern in Chicago in 2013, receiving accolades from Michigan Avenue and Chicago Tribune, to name a few. The year 2014 saw the debut of both Mercato by Fabio Viviani, a quick-service Italian concept with branches in Chicago and San Diego, and Fabio Viviani Wine Collection featuring wines from his two wineries in California. In 2015, Viviani continued to make a name for himself in Chicago by opening Bar Siena and Prime & Provisions. The following year, Viviani expanded beyond Chicago to open Osteria by Fabio Viviani at the LAX Delta Terminal and several other Mercato by Fabio locations in Tempe, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Benton Harbor. He plans to open a Detroit branch in March 2017, hot on the heels of his February 2017 opening of Portico by Fabio Viviani in the del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, NY. Moreover, in late 2016, he purchased a lobster fishing company in Maine to launch a home seafood delivery service called Lobster by Fabio.

Perhaps best known for his television debut on Bravo’s hit reality series Top Chef—earning the “Fan Favorite” title—his on-screen appearances have propelled him to become one of the fastest growing household names in the country. He is a recurring guest on national television shows such as Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew, and countless Food Network Shows such as Cutthroat Kitchen: All-Star Tournament, which he won. In February 2017, he also released his own online cooking show, “Fabio’s Kitchen,” a 52-episode series hosted on YouTube.

Off-screen, Viviani is a regular headliner at global food events and festivals. He also has his own lines of cookware and culinary gadgets, and has been a proud spokesman for international brands such as Arnold Premium Breads, Bialetti Cookware, Bertolli, Johnsonville Sausage, and Legends of Europe. He has authored three successful cookbooks: Café Firenze Cookbook, New York Times Best- Seller Fabio’s Italian Kitchen and Fabio’s American Home Kitchen and is planning to release his fourth cookbook, Fabio’s 30-Minute Italian, in May 2017.

Among Viviani’s other passions, he has a knack for business and entrepreneurship. A prolific tech investor and business speaker, not only has he delivered over 300 keynotes in the past 7 years, but he has also featured at several Fortune 500 companies’ corporate functions to share expertise in branding, social media, and marketing. In 2016, Viviani launched his Know-How Leadership Academy, an online educational platform with guides and courses for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Most recently, he merged his mind for innovation with his passion for food when he collaborated with Chicago-based Sapphire Apps to release Food Porn Emoji by Chef Fabio Viviani, the first HD food emoji keyboard on the app market.

His varied accomplishments have impressed many, resulting in his induction into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame as 2017 Chef of the Year on March 8, 2017. Following Viviani’s initiation, the mayor of Chicago also declared March 8, 2017 to be Chef Fabio Viviani Day in Chicago, encouraging Chicagoans to recognize his achievements and contributions not only to his home city of Chicago, but also to the nation’s culinary scene.

Vaca + Broadway

Amar is the Executive Chef and Partner at the famed Broadway By Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, Ca and Vaca in Costa Mesa, Ca). Born in the Dominican Republic, Santana immigrated to the US at age 13 and began his culinary career at 16. He was mentored by some of the worlds most renowned chefs helping him develop his skills of expressing his passion through food. He as earned many accolades throughout his career, most recently Bravo’s Top Chef Season 13 runner up. By combining flavors and culinary traditions from all over the world, Chef Amar provides a truly unforgettable gastronomical experience.

Chef Casey Thompson, a native Texan, spearheads a number of culinary endeavors: three-time Bravo “Top Chef” competitor, culinary consultant for California wineries, international wine ambassador, food-centric world traveler, and, of course, chef, for upcoming concepts in the Southwest and on the West Coast. Her culinary personality fosters the union of Southern cuisine and hospitality with market-fresh ingredients sourced humanely from local farmers. In support of ethical animal treatment, Thompson places priority on sourcing sustainably raised and butchered meat and seafood. “I believe in big, bold, adventurous flavors rather than subtle or nuanced tones,” she says. “I want people to have fun while they’re eating,” says Thompson.

Born and raised in Texas, Thompson’s lifelong affinity for food sparked at a young age in her family’s kitchen, where she experimented with different recipes alongside her grandmothers, learning and creating within their distinct Southern and French culinary perspectives. Mansion on Turtle Creek, a Dallas mainstay then led by renowned chef Dean Fearing, provided Thompson’s foray into the industry as a prep cook, and saw her excel through the ranks for four years to earn the sous chef position. She then signed on as executive chef for Shinsei, a Pan-Asian restaurant in Dallas from Dean Fearing’s wife, Lynae, and veteran restaurateur Tracy Rathbun.

In 2007, Bravo network approached Thompson to appear on “Top Chef” season three, which she finished as runner-up and fan favorite. She came back to the hit show for its eighth season, “Top Chef: All-Stars,” and graces the show again for season 14, filmed in Charleston, SC. “Before Top Chef, I never thought of myself as competitive,” she explains. “It revealed my capabilities, taught me how to handle pressure and work with others, and introduced a flood of new inspirations.”

With her first experience on “Top Chef” complete, Thompson moved to Northern California in 2008, consulting with numerous wineries to pair their varietals with locally sourced dishes, and jetting off to places like Australia and Thailand to garner insight and inspiration from disparate cultures and cuisines.

She went on to launch Brownstone restaurant in Ft. Worth, TX in 2010, become the U.S. Ambassador for Moët-Hennessy’s Terrazas de los Andes Argentinian wine, and partner in San Francisco’s Aveline restaurant in 2014, while consulting for other culinary concepts in the Bay Area and beyond. The chef now joins San Diego’s The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe as executive chef, presenting a contemporary locavore menu with Texan influences, and extends her culinary expertise to Santa Fe, NM at the upcoming boutique El Rey Inn.

With culinary projects sprinkled across the country, Thompson roots herself in California’s Napa Valley, where her husband, Michael DeSantis, operates Harumph Wines. The couple resides with their 90-pound Labradoodle, Sam, and enjoys the outdoors and traveling abroad.

Sam & Harry's

At the age of 14 Andy started washing dishes at a restaurant near his house in Ramona California. After a few months Andy started to help with the prep work in the kitchen. Quickly became his first kitchen role as Prep cook, His mother always cooked and he helped , the family rarely ate out only on special occasions, so he understood a lot of preparing items in the kitchen. Soon after that I was hooked into the kitchen Family and wanted to make it my career.
While attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Chef Andy Arndt had the opportunity to work at one of San Francisco’s best restaurants, Boulevard, with Chef Nancy Oakes, whose mentorship would shape his career. Oakes taught him the importance of focusing on the seasonal ingredients abundant in the Bay area. In 1998, Arndt chose to broaden his culinary horizons and accepted a position at San Francisco’s award-winning Mc2 with Chef Yoshi Kojima. He spent the following two years helping Kojima develop and execute his French-Californian cuisine inflected with subtle Japanese elements.

Eager to expand his repertoire, Arndt left the West Coast for New York City, where he embarked on a series of stages with the city’s leading chefs. His first stop was at Union Pacific where he worked with Chef Rocco Dispirito. The next stop was at March with Chef Wayne Nish. Soon after, Arndt was lured to Gramercy Tavern by Chef Tom Colicchio. There, Arndt spent the next year absorbing Colicchio’s culinary vision and expanding his knowledge of East Coast ingredients. Arndt was then hired as chef de cuisine at Halcyon Restaurant at the Rihga Royal Hotel. While at Halcyon, he managed a kitchen staff of 40. Under his tenure, Halcyon received some of its best critical reviews since its opening. Arndt leapt on the opportunity to stage under iconic chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry.

At Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, where Arndt was executive chef for four years, he was responsible for the food program at all restaurants and banquets with a large focus on seasonality and farm-to-table mentality. During his tenure, the resort acquired a Five Diamond AAA Rating.

Today he lives in Laguna Niguel. And while he took his lessons in seasonal cooking under Oakes to heart, his own -friendly brand of inventive cuisine is all his own. From comfort-driven dishes like short ribs, to wildly inventive fare like gin and tonic Gelee-topped salmon, Arndt’s inventiveness is obvious and continues to astound.
Being back in southern California has been great it feels like coming home , utilizing the local community, farmers etc. and showing our international hotel guests what southern California has to offer

As The executive Chef at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa Chef Arndt overseas the restaurant , banquets and in room dining.
Andy is married and has 2 children, Daughter Sabine 12 & Son Milo 9,

Favorite Wine – Jayson Cabernet
Hobbies – Surfing, Skateboarding, Assist coaching his son’s Basketball
Food – Authentic Fried Chicken & Bbq Ribs

Balboa Bay Resort

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF. (June 24, 2015) – Balboa Bay Resort is pleased to announce the appointment of Rachel Haggstrom to executive chef of the luxurious Newport Beach resort. Haggstrom has been serving as the property’s chef de cuisine since October 2013.

In her new role, Haggstrom will oversee the resort’s dining restaurants, including Waterline Newport Beach, the resort’s signature bay front seafood restaurant and A&O Kitchen+Bar, the resort’s waterfront gastropub. Haggstrom will also manage the resort’s day-to-day culinary operations, including special events, galas and weddings.

“Rachel has been instrumental in spearheading the development and implementation of the resort’s culinary programs,” said Sam El-Rabaa, general manager of Balboa Bay Resort. “Her depth of knowledge and extraordinary experience, both at five star resorts and elite culinary destinations, make her the ideal candidate to lead us to new culinary heights.”

Balboa Bay Resort was previously under the culinary direction of executive chef Vincent Lesage, who is now the executive chef at the resort’s sister Meritage Collection property, Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, CA.

“I look forward to this next chapter and leading the culinary team to greater heights, Haggstrom said. “I am excited to use my training and expertise to create memorable dining experiences for resort guests and the local community.”

Growing up on her family’s citrus grove in Temecula, CA, Haggstrom became fascinated by the farming process, from planting seeds to harvesting and she naturally developed a passion for food and cooking with fresh produce. Haggstrom graduated from the California Culinary Academy – Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, CA, and went on to work at various elite culinary destinations, including The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, Wolfgang Puck ‘s Postrio at the Kimpton Hotel San Francisco, and Thomas Keller’s Michelin three-star restaurant, The French Laundry. It was during her tenure at The French Laundry that she developed her signature “farm-to-table” cooking style. Prior to joining Balboa Bay Resort as chef de cuisine in October 2013, Haggstrom served as sous chef at St. Regis Monarch Beach.

When Haggstrom is not in the kitchen, she enjoys relaxing and spending time with her husband and daughter.

About Balboa Bay Resort
Balboa Bay Resort, the only waterfront resort in Newport Beach, offers stunning bay views and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. The resort features 159 guestrooms and suites, each with a private balcony. Additional features include destination dining at Waterline, the resort’s signature waterfront restaurant; A&O Kitchen+Bar, a waterfront gastropub and bar; BlendTM, an Italian inspired coffee shop, as well as a full-service 10,000-square-foot spa; more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space; a wealth of outdoor recreation, including a year-round heated swimming pool and whirlpool, water activities, and for guests to rent from the private dock: electric boats, stand-up paddleboards, and kayaks. For information and reservations, please contact Balboa Bay Resort at 949.645.5000; or visit the website at

About Meritage Collection
Meritage Collection is a life and style collection from Pacific Hospitality Group, which includes independent hotels, resorts, wineries, and golf courses. Meritage Collection offers exceptional travel and one-of-a-kind experiences in four of California’s most spectacular locations—La Jolla, Napa Valley, Newport Beach, and Santa Barbara.
Blending the best in leisure and group travel, Meritage Collection débuted in 2013 and includes The Meritage Resort and Spa, Bacara Resort & Spa, Balboa Bay Resort, and Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. For more information about Meritage Collection, please visit

Media Contact:
Lauren Crowley

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar

After spending the majority of his career leading other restaurateurs and culinary groups to success, internationally renowned ChefYvonGoetz has become a culinary force as Executive Chef and Partner at The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, which has locations in Tustin and Newport Beach, California.

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar opened its doors in August 2007 at The District in Tustin, and immediately went on to receive the distinction of “Restaurant of the Year” in 2008, 2009 and 2013 by the well-respected and highly influential OC Concierge Association. In 2012, luxury publication RIVIERA Magazine and noted Orange County Business Journal both bestowed the title of “Restaurant of the Year,” and the prestigious Southern California Restaurant Writers Association awarded the group “Restaurateurs of the Year” for their achievements. Most recently, he was presented with the honor of “Chef of the Year” by the Golden Foodie Awards at a grand ceremony that celebrated the best chefs in the region, leading the way to the 2014 opening of The Winery’s second location in Newport Beach.

Goetz, considered one of the most highly decorated chefs in Southern California, has received such accolades and awards as “Alsace’s gift to Southern California” by the Los Angeles Times, “The Best of the Best” by the Travel Guide, one of three recipients in California of the AAA Five-Diamond Award, and “Chef of the Year” by the Orange County Business Journal, the Southern California Restaurant Writer’s Association, and Golden Foodie Awards. In addition, he was selected by Condé Nast to participate as one of only 14 chefs nationwide for the Bon Appétit-hosted Cadillac Culinary Challenge.

As Executive Chef and Partner in The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Goetz develops and oversees a cutting-edge menu featuring contemporary California regional cuisine with a focus on specialties and ingredients found in California’s vast Wine Country. He is responsible for hiring, training and directing a culinary team that delivers consistent, quality fare that has set new standards for restaurants in Orange County and beyond.

Driftwood Kitchen

Executive Chef Rainer Schwarz combines a rich cultural past with the finest culinary training to present menus unlike any other found in the region. His style of cooking focuses on simplicity by using only the best possible high quality, seasonal ingredients.One of his passions is to pair each dish on his menu with the best possible wine selection. The exquisite flavor and unsurpassed quality of each dish prepared by Chef Rainer demonstrates his extensive training and expertise in fine dining.


Born and raised in Irvine, Calif., Chef Katy Smith uncovered her love for the food industry while working in restaurants during college. Deciding to forge her passion into a career, Smith earned her advanced culinary arts degree from Baltimore International College while working as a cook at Michael Mina’s Wit & Wisdom at the Baltimore Four Seasons Hotel.

A jack of all kitchen trades, Smith has held a wide range of jobs within the culinary industry including time in a 5-star hotel kitchen and owning and operating a personal chef business. Most recently, Smith served as the test kitchen director and culinary assistant to culinary legend Rick Bayless in Chicago.

While in Chicago, Smith received national recognition as the culinary director for the James Beard winning podcast The Feed and served as kitchen director for Bayless’ Emmy-nominated, Season 10 of PBS Mexico’s One Plate at a Time. Smith also oversaw recipe testing and developing for Bayless’ most recent cookbook, More Mexican Everyday.

Smith brought her talents back to Southern California in Summer 2016 as Puesto’s Executive Creative Chef. At Puesto, Smith is constantly experimenting with new ingredients and testing recipes to give a fresh and innovative spin to authentic Mexican cuisine.


Hospitality industry standout, Manfred Lassahn is the executive chef of the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa and the mastermind behind Watertable, recently named to Open Table’s Diner’s Choice Top 100 Restaurants in North America. Watertable, the resort’s wildly popular, signature restaurant that newly opened in Spring 2014 has been featured in Coast, LA Times, Orange County Register Magazine and Rivera OC as a visionary putting a new, creative spin on American-style cuisine, Chef Lassahn continues to evolve the dining concepts throughout the resort with his innovation and passion.

With a history that spans nearly three decades in executive-level culinary roles within the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Chef Lassahn is uniquely equipped to lead the resorts’ award-winning restaurants into ever-new phases of culinary excellence with seasonally dictated, naturally raised and sustainably sourced offerings. Chef Lassahn oversees all aspects of the resorts cuisine, including Watertable, the stately and sophisticated Red Chair Lounge, Pete’s Sunset Grille and all special events and banquet functions.

Throughout his career, Chef Lassahn has served as executive chef at various high profile Hyatt properties including the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Hyatt Valencia and most recently at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. A polished industry expert, Chef Lassahn was recognized in 2011 as Hyatt Hotels’ Chef of the Year. He has played an active role in introducing leading food and beverage trends into the resort dining experience by heading the development of Vines restaurant at the Hyatt Valencia, renowned for its seasonal menu changes and quarterly wine-pairing dinners, consulting on the Hyatt Hotels “For Kids by Kids” innovative menu concept and the brand’s “Culinary Diversity Taskforce Boot Camp.” Due to his stellar track record, Chef Lassahn was among those chosen to develop and manage Hyatt hotel’s fine dining standards and banquet servicing.

Selanne Steak Tavern

Joshua Severson has served as the executive chef for Teemu Selanne’s eponymous steak tavern, since it opened in 2013. As a steakhouse pro and devotee, he offers guests traditional cuts of steaks and chops, perfectly prepared and served with his version of classic sauces and seasonal sides. Severson’s American contemporary cuisine won Selanne Steak Tavern recognition as Best New Restaurant and Best Steak venue at the 2014 Golden Foodies Awards, which honors top culinary talent in Orange County, Calif. Adjacent to the steakhouse, Chef Severson also helms the butchering team that hand cuts aged prime meats for TS Gourmet Shoppe, which was launched in December 2015. In addition, his kitchen team prepares the food wares for the Shoppe including Farmers Market Soups, Chef’s Secret Sauces, Truffle Popcorn, Foie Gras Pâté  and other savory selections. Severson’s love for food and simple preparation of fine local ingredients stems from his Pacific Northwest upbringing where he gained an appreciation for the region’s produce and seafood straight from Puget Sound. Before his present position, he was the chef de cuisine for Executive Chef Frédéric Castan at St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Calif. Prior to that, he worked with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio at award-winning Craft Steak in Las Vegas. His first experiences in professional kitchens were at some of Seattle’s landmark restaurants including Sky City at the Space Needle and the legendary El Gaucho Steak.

Marché Moderne

Florent and Amelia Marneau are more than the husband-and-wife chef duo behind Marché Moderne, one of Southern California’s most critically- lauded restaurants: they’re the heart and soul of the award-winning French bistro they’ve created together.

Florent’s vast professional experience includes a prestigious tenure that began in 1990, having worked in Paris for legendary master pastry chef Gaston Lenotre before chancing upon the opportunity to work for Orange County’s then-top French chef Pascal Olhats at Tradition by Pascal. From there, Florent moved on to take the helms at Aubergine, which quickly garnered critical acclaim as O.C.’s best restaurant. It was at Aubergine where he would meet Amelia, the restaurant’s pastry chef at the time.

Amelia’s impressive credentials include working as the pastry chef at the Michelin star restaurant Les Ambassadeurs in Hotel de Crillon Paris. Shortly after Florent and Amelia married, Florent was tapped by master chef Joachim Splichal of Patina Restaurant Group to be the executive chef of Pinot Provence. That too, did not take long to become the crown jewel of French dining in Orange County. After a successful decade, the Marneaus decided to strike out on their very own and opened Marché Moderne at South Coast Plaza, a luxury shopping destination. There, the accolades continued to pour in for another decade. Described as “ … the best bistro in Southern California” by the Los Angeles Times, in addition to nabbing the title of Best Restaurant in Orange County by the Orange County Register’s critic Brad A. Johnson, Marché Moderne has also consistently landed on the annual “101 Best Restaurants” list by Pulitzer- prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times.

Throughout the years, the Marneaus worked tirelessly side by side, he in the kitchen, creating what would be his hallmark of pristine French cuisine, with Amelia whipping up delicate confections to complement his cooking – or sometimes, the other way around. In addition to her artful pastries and desserts, Marché Moderne’s longtime guests know to also look forward to Amelia’s warm and gracious hospitality.

Now, the Marneaus are set to embark on their next culinary chapter together. They’ve taken their combined love for market-inspired ingredients and classic French cooking techniques with modern touches to a brand new home for Marché Moderne in Newport Coast, with the Pacific Ocean on the horizon.

When the Marneaus are not in the kitchen dreaming up new dishes, they enjoy doting on their two children, Juliette and Mateo.


The Daytime Festival on Saturday and Sunday will commence with the ultimate experience for wine lovers of all levels. World-renowned master sommeliers will be hosting educational wine panels and tastings.

Master Sommelier

Veteran Restaurateur and “Sommelier for the People” Michael Jordan is Director of Global Key Accounts for Jackson Family Fine Wines. Previously Jordan served three years as vice president of food & beverage for Anaheim’s award winning restaurant and live music venue, THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon (Zagat 28-29-28). Prior to opening THE RANCH, Jordan was president of The Beachcomber Restaurant Group. Before that he served as Global Manager of wine sales & standards and wine education for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts® Worldwide – and also nine years as general manager of the world famous Napa Rose restaurant at Disneyland Resort® in Anaheim. In his career Jordan has been involved with the opening of seventeen restaurants including Pinot Provence in Costa Mesa and was general manager/sommelier of Pavilion at Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach when it received AAA’s Five Diamond Award.

Jordan holds a Master Sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a Certified Wine Educator diploma from the Society of Wine Educators and is one of only 15 people in the world to hold both these diplomas. Jordan has taught comprehensive wine and beverage courses to well over a thousand students.
Jordan also hosts a weekly radio show, What’s Cookin’ with Wine on CRN Digital Talk Radio and many AM radio markets across the country since 2002.
Personal recognition & awards:

  • 2012 Food & Beverage Director of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
  • 2008 Sommelier of the Year – Whitefish Wine & Food Summit
  • 2008 General Manager of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
  • 2006 Restaurant Professional of the Year – Orange Coast Magazine
  • 2005 American Sommelier of the Year – Cordon Du Vin World Society
  • 2005 Wine Educator of the Year – STARWINE
  • 2005 General Manager of the Year – Orange Coast Magazine
  • 2002 Sommelier of the Year – Southern California Restaurant Writers
  • 2001 Sommelier of the Year – California Restaurant Writers Assn.

“Michael Jordan is one of just 15 people in the world awarded both Master Sommelier and CWE (Certified Wine Educator) Diplomas. And if there were an equivalent for heirloom tomato expertise, he’d have that, too.”
-Priscilla Mayfield’s column “Taste of Orange County” Orange Coast Magazine – August, 2013

Master Sommelier

Peter Neptune is one of only 230 individuals in the World to hold the wine industry’s most prestigious title: Master Sommelier. He is a 31-year veteran of the wine business, beginning as a sommelier in New York City, where he trained and worked for 10 years. Upon returning to his native California, Peter entered into Wine Education full time, and has established a nationwide reputation as one of the premier wine educators in the USA. In addition to his MS Diploma, Peter holds the title of Certified Wine Educator with the Society of Wine Educators (for which he was recognized with the Banfi Award for Excellence in 2003), holds a Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London, and is an Associate of the Institute of Wines and Spirits. He also holds the credential French Wine Scholar, with Highest Honors. Peter is one of the teaching Masters at the Court of Master Sommelier Intro and Advanced Courses, and is an examiner at the Certified, Advanced, and Master Sommelier Examinations. In 2003 Peter began the first WSET school in Southern California. Currently, Neptune School of Wine administers the WSET Level 2 Intermediate, Level 3 Advanced, and Level 4 Diploma Certification programs, as well as the French Wine Scholar program and exam. To date we have taught over 500 students at the various levels.

Master Sommelier

Spending his college years working at the great fine dining restaurants of his hometown New Orleans, Chris’ love of wine took hold early. A fortuitous winery visit in Woodinville, Washington – and a particular hatred of cubicles – prompted Chris to abandon a promising career in finance, moving to Seattle to work as a sommelier while commuting to Walla Walla to pursue winemaking. However, when Wolfgang Puck personally asks you to build a Wine Spectator Grand Award wine program as the Beverage Director for his flagship Spago in Beverly Hills, you don’t say no. A relocation to Los Angeles translated to Santa Barbara winemaking opportunities.

Many years, wine lists, restaurant openings, and a Master Sommelier Diploma later, it was time for a new challenge. Chris exchanged his suit and tie for jeans and boots, now spending his days in the vineyards and his winery – Seabold Cellars.

Master Sommelier

Lucero has had the privilege of growing up in the heart of wine country, Napa Valley. He started at a tender age bussing tables and learning the inner workings of restaurant life. Now, having spent over two decades in hospitality and seventeen years in fine dining, Lucero has dedicated his life to the advancement of America’s food and wine culture.

Lucero developed his comprehension of food and wine at The French Laundry for seven years. He also earned a full certification in Culinary Arts, and cooked professionally for two years in Michelin starred restaurants. Lucero’s hospitality acumen was further sharpened in the dining room floors of restaurants such as The Little Nell , Cyrus, Meadowood and Daniel Boulud.

In 2011 Wine and Spirits Magazine named Lucero one of the Country’s Top New Sommeliers. Sur has judged many competitions including the Guild of Sommeliers ͞”TopSomm.”

In 2012, Sur Lucero was honored by the Court Master Sommelier’s for being the organization’s fourteenth Krug Cup recipient. This honor means that Lucero was the highest scoring person, who passed all three sections of the exam, on his first attempt. Lucero has now transitioned into the field of wine education as the National Director for Wine Education for Jackson Family Wines. This platform allows Sur to share his love of food and wine with budding enthusiasts and connoisseurs across the nation.

Master Sommelier

Thomas Price has been in the Hospitality Industry for his entire adult life. Thomas was born in Pasadena, California in 1965. His family moved to Alaska when he was 7. Thomas’ first restaurant job was as a Dishwasher at a diner in Juneau at the age of 14. By 18, Thomas was the day Lead Cook at an upscale burger house called Harry’s in Anchorage. Thomas moved into the front of the house as a Server and Bartender upon turning 21. His passion for wine was instantaneous. Thomas moved to Seattle in 1988, where he met his lovely wife, Jessica. Jessica shares Thomas’ passion for food and wine, and they both worked at some of Seattle’s most notable restaurants of the era, (Dahlia Lounge, El Camino, Etta’s Seafood, The Santa Fe Café).

Thomas began as a waiter at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill, and obtained his Basic Sommelier certification in September of 2004. In 2005, Thomas was promoted to a Sommelier/Captain position and in 2006 he obtained his Certified Sommelier certification. In September of 2007, Thomas passed his Advanced Sommelier certification on the first try.

In June of 2008 Thomas was named Head Sommelier at The Metropolitan Grill. Thomas obtained his Master Sommelier certification in May 2012.

Thomas is now the National Wine Educator for Jackson Family Wines and is dedicated to sharing his passion for wine with friends, consumers and the trade, one bottle at a time.

Master Sommelier

Steven has worked in the Food and Beverage industry for nearly twenty years – from washing dishes at a mom and pop Italian restaurant in his hometown of Diamond Bar, to managing a Bar and Grill in Golden, Colorado. His love of food and wine, however, was born in a fine dining restaurant at the Disneyland Resort called the Napa Rose, a world class Dining Room specializing in Wine Country Cuisine, with a Wine Program that set new standards for excellence in the culinary world. The relationship between Disney and the Court of Master Sommeliers put Steven on a path that would forever change and enrich his life.

After many years of study, and with the help of many great mentors, Steven advanced through the Court of Master Sommeliers and attained the Master Sommelier Diploma in February of 2008 and has since been an active participant with the Court as a wine educator.

Steven currently works as the Beverage Director at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach. Since his arrival, the Wine Program at Big Canyon has been recognized among Country Clubs as one of the finest in the nation.


Smooth, soulful sounds will fill the air as world-renowned jazz musicians perform live during the Daytime Festival. Centered between the two Grand Tasting Pavilions, the Festival’s Jazz Lounge will allow guests to get lost in the music while they taste and sip the day away.

Shelly Taylor

“Imagine Ella Fitzgerald crossed with the slinky, bluesy sensibility of Mose Allison, all wrapped up with a side of Diana Krall.”
-Las Vegas Review Journal

Shelley Taylor attracts audiences with her unique style and easy flair on the piano. Never getting in the way of her vocals, and the stories she tells through the lyric.

She has been based in San Francisco and Las Vegas where she appeared on the the Las Vegas Strip at such places as the Wynn Resort, The Bellagio, Aria, The Mirage, B.B. King’s Blues Club, and Mandalay Bay. Since her relocation to San DiegoShelly can be seen at various venues including Aviara Resort, Eddie V’s, and the Grand Del Mar.

Whether Shelly Taylor is appearing locally, nationally or internationally, she stitches her style of jazz, pop, blues and more into an unmistakable tapestry all her own.

With the release of their highly-anticipated Woodward Avenue Records debut, Southern California’s premiere R&B, funk and contemporary urban jazz powerhouse DW3 lets the world in on a cool “Vintage Truth.” Driven by the ever-evolving musical vision of core members – brothers Eric and Billy Mondragon and Damon Reel – their deepening artistry continues to transcend a well-earned reputation as a high energy, fun and freewheeling party band. While they continue to anchor Thursday nights and the 94.7 The Wave Sunday Brunch at Spaghettini in Seal Beach and electrify festival and cruise-goers as they have for more than a decade, the versatile ensemble is rapidlyemerging as a multi-faceted recording outfit in their own right.

Building on the success of their 2011 single, “I Got You” featuring Gerald Albright, which hit #16 on the Billboard charts, and the “On The Floor” album that went #1 on
8 the UK soul charts, DW3 – now expanded to nine pieces with the addition of a horn section – captures all the dynamics of their live show on the twelve tracks on “Vintage Truth.” The set features exciting original vocal tracks along with freshly re-imagined covers of classics like The Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why,” Luther Vandross’ “So Amazing” and Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” It also includes DW3’s soulful take on The Mamas & the Papas gem “California Dreaming’,” which won the California Lottery Powerball song contest and spawned a popular YouTube video. Eric, Billy and Damon all contribute lead and harmony vocals, while Eric plays keys (including synth horns and strings) and Billy adds percussion.

Reflective of the band’s incredible popularity among the urban jazz community’s fans, core artists and musicians,”Vintage Truth” features contributions from a handful of the genre’s superstar performers. Brian Culbertson plays piano on the opening track, the rousing, vocal harmony laden R&B tune ͞”Let The Music.” Paul Brown produced, mixed and contributes his inimitable guitar to “I Can’t Tell You Why,” while Greg Adams lends trumpet and horns to Eric’s original tune “Hold Me” and Dave Koz infuses his lush sax emotion on “When You Cry.” Before he passed away, legendary GRAMMY®- winning drummer Ricky Lawson, who performed with DW3 in the final two years of his life, co-produced four of the core tracks on “Vintage Truth” with keyboardist Sean Dancy – including “Dance With Me,” “Overjoyed,” “California Dreaming” and “When You Cry.” In fact, the band dedicates “Vintage Truth” to “Our Big Brother, the Drummer to the Stars, Mr. Ricky Lawson.”

“We titled the album ‘Vintage Truth͛ because of the way we approached the recording process, like a live jam session where the core musicians – the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer – were in the room playing at the same time,” says Eric. “We rehearsed each song twice, then got in the studio and pressed play. Our previous recordings featured a lot of drum programming, but this project has all live drums. When you’re working with a legend like Ricky, how can you have it otherwise? Another vintage element we added that we absolutely love is the live horns – so much so that we recently added a horn section to our lineup so that we could perform these songs properly onstage.”

Hailing from La Puente, California and growing up in the Los Angeles areas of El Sereno and Lincoln Heights, Eric and Billy began their musical careers in high school by playing club dates with their parents; their father is a bass player, and he and their mom are singers. DW3, an outgrowth of that original family band, which took the Mondragon’s sound and professionalism to the next level, has been an evolving collective of musicians since then – but the core (Down With 3) members since 2003 are Eric, Billy and Damon. They became an integral part of the contemporary urban jazz scene in 2004 when they played on the first Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise and were subsequently booked asresident performers at Spaghettini.

Since the mid-2000s, in addition to their weekly shows at the popular Seal Beach jazz venue, DW3 has built a massive following via their appearances on numerous theme cruises, including The Smooth Jazz Cruise and the Dave Koz Cruise, and captivating performances at the Sea Breeze Jazz Festival, Newport Beach Jazz Festival, Long Beach Jazz Festival, Thornton Winery Champagne Jazz Series, Las Vegas Jazz Festival, San Diego Jazz Festival, JazzFest West, Taste of Soul Festival and many other nightclubs and festivals bookings. In 2015, they will be making their second appearance at Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, a five-day wine and jazz festival taking place in the heart of Northern California’s wine country. DW3 will also be performing at the inaugural Cancun Jazz Festival over Labor Day Weekend. While recording several independent albums, including “Live At Spaghettini” and “Life, Love and Music,” DW3 has expanded their artistic horizons performing with and singing background for numerous jazz and R&B legends and popular contemporary artists including Sheila E., Marcus Miller, Brenda Russell, Patti Austin, Bobby Caldwell, Mindi Abair, Jonathan Butler, Jody Watley, Brian McKnight, David Pack, Evelyn “Champagne” King and the late George Duke. “We’re really excited to share ‘Vintage Truth’ with of our wonderful and loyal longtime fans and new listeners, and believe this is the start of a new phase in our career as recording artists,” says Eric.”Our musicianship both live and in the studio has evolved in amazing ways over the last ten years and we͛re so thrilled now to have the horn section joining us. The process of recording this album has helped us ‘up’ our game to create shows that are better, more explosive and feature more original songs in the old school funk/R&B and urban jazz vein than ever before.”