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.


Chef Rick Baylessis perhaps most widely known for winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, beating out the French and Italian with his authentic Mexican cuisine. His highly rated Public Television Series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time, is in its elenth season and is broadcast coast to coast.

Rick’s side-by-side award-winning restaurants are in Chicago. The casual Frontera Grill was founded in 1987 and received the James Beard Foundation’s highest award, Outstanding Restaurant, in 2007. The 4-star Toplobampo served its first meals in 1991. And the wildly popular, LEED GOLD-certified, fast-casual Xoco has been around since 2009, serving wood-oven tortas, steaming caldos, golden churros and bean-to-cup Mexican hot chocolate. Rick’s quick-service TortasFrontera have changed the face of food service at O’Hare International Airport, while Frontera Fresco has brought Frontera flavors to several Macy’s stores and Northwestern University. His award-winning Frontera line of salsas, cooking sauces and organic chips can be found coast to coast. He now has a culinary presence with two RED O Restaurant locations in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California.

Chef Bayless has eight cookbooks. His second book, Mexican Kitchen, won the Julia Child IACP cookbook of the year award in 1996, and his fourth book, Mexico–One Plate at a Time won James Beard Best International Cookbook of the Year award in 2001. Fiesta at Rick’s spent a number of weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.
Rick has been the recipient of a great number of James Beard Award nominations in many categories, and he has won six: Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Who’s Who of American Food and Drink, plus two for his cookbooks.

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.

Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach

With partners Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich, Nancy Silverton is the co-owner of Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, Newport Beach and Singapore, as well as Mozza2Go and Chi Spacca in Los Angeles. Silverton also founded the world-renowned La Brea Bakery, as well as Campanile Restaurant, an institution that Angelenos cherished for decades.

Silverton has worked with some of the nation’s most notable chefs including in the kitchens of Jonathan Waxman at Michael’s Restaurant and Wolfgang Puck at Spago. Additionally, she has served as a mentor to numerous others who have gone on to become award-winning chefs and restaurant owners themselves.

Early on in her career Nancy was named Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef”, in addition to “Pastry Chef of the Year”, “Who’s Who of Cooking” and “Outstanding Restaurant” for Campanile by the James Beard Foundation. Bon Appetit also awarded Silverton Best of Food & Entertaining, “Food Artisan” as well. Most recently, she received the highest honor given by the James Beard Foundation for “Outstanding Chef” as well as listed as one of the Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink by Fortune and Food and Wine Magazine.

Silverton is the author of eight cookbooks including: Desserts (1986), Breads from the La Brea Bakery (1996), Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (2000), Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book (2005), Twist of the Wrist (2007) and the Mozza Cookbook (2011). In early 2015, Nancy launched Nancy’s Fancy, a line of premium gelato and sorbetto which will be sold in supermarkets nationwide.

She has served as a member of the Macy’s Culinary Council since 2003, has been a major supporter in the Garden School Foundation in Los Angeles, and is active in fundraising for numerous charities, most notably Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

RM Seafood

Chef Rick Moonen has been featured in Food & Wine, SAVEUR, Bon Appetit, Food Arts, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, and seen on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate, Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, TODAY, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Dan Rather Reports, and CNN. In addition, he has received numerous awards for his tireless efforts towards sustainability including Chef of the Year by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2011; and Humanitarian of the Year by the American Culinary Federation in 2013. In 2014, he was appointed to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Blue Ribbon Task Force as one of the top twenty leading culinarians; and honored with the prestigious Vegas Dozen award by Saks Fifth Avenue, Green spun Media Group, and Keep Memory Alive. Using the finest treasures from the sea, Rick Moonen’s rm seafood features an all-American menu in a casual atmosphere, located in fabulous Las Vegas. Rick is a celebrated seafood chef and an early champion of sustainable fishing practices. In 2010, Rick was a finalist in the second season of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.”

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.


TWENTY EIGHT restaurant is set to open in Irvine this Fall, and the mastermind behind the menu of modernChinese cuisine is Chef Shirley Chung from Season 11“Top Chef New Orleans.” Herexperience as a “top chef” extendsbeyond her television appearance– prior to Top Chef,she was the Executive Chef forChina Poblano by Jose Andres.Shortly after she opened ChinaPoblano, it was nominatedfor the Best New Restaurant

Award by James Beard in2011. Born and raised in Beijing, China, Chef Shirleyis trained in classic French and Italian cuisine, workedand opened restaurants for Thomas Keller, Guy Savoyand Mario Batali. After she opened CarneVino as Chefde Cuisine for the Batali group, the restaurant earnedmultiple awards for Best Steak House internationally.From working in China Poblano, she fell in love with

Mexican cuisine and learned more about her own heritage,Chinese cuisine, which she is adding a modernedge to at TWENTY EIGHT.

“Top Chef” Winner

Born in China, Mei Lin and her family immigrated to the United States when she was only 3 months old. Her family planted roots in Dearborn, Michigan. She grew up working alongside her father at their family-owned and -operated restaurant, where she learned the fundamentals of being a well-rounded cook and how to run a restaurant. She cut her teeth at many revered restaurants, but credits most of her formal training and refinement of skills to her time at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Vegas and Michael Voltaggio’s ink. in Los Angeles. As part of the opening team at ink., she spent the first three years moving up the ranks, eventually becoming a sous chef. She most recently earned the title of Top Chef on Bravo TV’s Emmy-winning show to much acclaim. Previously, she also won her episode in Esquire TV’s Knife Fight, and was selected at one of Eater’ Young Guns in 2014 and Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in 2015. Currently, she is currently dedicating her time to travel and research.

Tackle Box OC

Chef Brian Huskey is a native of Pasadena, California. After attending and studying economics at UCLA, where he had his first job as a short order cook at the Grove, Brian moved to San Francisco to get his formal culinary education at California Culinary Academy. After CCA, Brian went on a culinary journey, traveling to places as far as the Caribbean but eventually landing back in Los Angeles. For three years, Brian worked directly with Chef Ricardo Zarate in opening his four restaurants: Picca, Mo-chica, Paiche, and Blue Tavern. Prior to meeting Zarate, Brian was Chef de Cuisine of LA Prime at the Westin Bonaventure and Executive Chef for Room Forty. He also was Mark Gold’s opening chef de cuisine of Eva restaurant and part of the opening team of Fig and Olive in West Hollywood.

As well, he spent 3 years with the Patina group at Cafe Pinot and helped open Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge in Costa Mesa as sous chef. Throughout this process, Brian has been able to travel and cultivate his culinary voice by learning how to incorporate Asian, French, Peruvian, and Californian influences into his food. Recently Brian competed on BRAVO’s nationally acclaimed tv hit show Top Chef season 11: New Orleans where he had a national platform each week to showcase his talent. He cooked his way to the top 5. Since Top Chef, Brian has been busy with private and corporate events, catering, consulting, and cultivating his concepts. He is about to open his first concept Tackle Box in early July, a quick serve grub shack concept, at Corona del Mar beach. Check out On his free time, he enjoys the simple things… eating, relaxing, playing tennis, and spending time with friends and family, and of course Titan, his rescue pitbull.

Celebrity Chef

Jamie Gwen is a CIA Grad, Celebrity Chef, Certified Sommelier, LifestyleExpert and four-time Cookbook Author who can be seen stirring up something delicious on television, on the radio and in print from coast-to-coast. She brings the best to radio with her weekly Syndicated Radio Show, filled with delicious conversation on all things culinary, heard every Sunday on Radio Stations across the country and in SoCal on Talk Radio 790 KABC. Jamie can be seen on KTLA Channel 5, on HSN and on national television news shows sharing her seasonal lifestyle approach and her passion for food. Her recipes are featured on and on Microsoft’s worldwide Food & Drink App. Jamie’s most recent cookbook, Co-Authored by Lana Sills and entitled “Good Food For Good Times 2”, is now available as an eBook and has been featured on The Talk, Emeril Liveand Martha Stewart.

Girasol LA

Orange County-born, Chef C.J. Jacobson is best known for his ‘rustic-refined’ way of cooking. His craft revolves around hyper-seasonal, local California ingredients, where foraging plays a main part in the flavor profiles that he creates in his kitchen.

Jacobson has always been one for a good competition, even before starring on two seasons of Bravo’s Top Chef, and most recently, winning Top Chef Duels in 2014. After attending Pepperdine University in Malibu on a volleyball scholarship, Jacobson went on to make the U.S. National Volleyball Team. His professional volleyball career took him to Belgium, Israel, and the Netherlands, where he discovered food could be exciting and inspiring. Jacobson then returned to LA where he ultimately decided that restaurants would be his next career path. He enrolled at the Le Cordon Bleu-affiliated College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, graduating in 2004 and his first professional job was cooking at Axe, a highly regarded restaurant with an ingredient-driven California menu. He went on to work throughout California at Campanile under Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton and as a private chef for VIPs such as Arianna Huffington and Guess clothing’s Marciano family.

After his first appearance on Top Chef in 2007, Jacobson accepted a position as executive chef at The Yard, a gastropub in Santa Monica, CA. The following year, Jacobson participated in the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour and in 2012, he staged at the world-renowned Copenhagen restaurant Noma, working closely with acclaimed Chef René Redzepi. In July 2013, he become the executive chef at Girasol restaurant in Studio City, CA, and a year later was brought in by Lettuce Entertain You Founder Rich Melman to open Intro, as the first chef-in-residence in Chicago, IL. During his tenure at Intro, CJ garnered three stars from the Chicago Tribune and earned the restaurant a spot on Chicago Magazine’s Best New Restaurants of 2015 list. He has also received high regards in the national press with cuisine featured on the cover of Food & Wine magazine in October 2015.

In summer 2016, Jacobson will open his first restaurant with Lettuce Entertain You, Ēma. The Mediterranean-style restaurant will feature small plates, and lighter, California-style cooking that uses unique spices and ingredients.

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.

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.

The Ritz Prime Seafood

Chef George Neyra, a talented chef with 13 years of kitchen experience at prestigious award-winning hospitality venues, oversees the menu creation and back-of-the-house operations at The Ritz Prime Seafood located along Newport Beach’s scenic Mariner’s Mile. He brings his culinary prowess and enthusiasm to this globally influenced restaurant featuring sustainable fish, dry-aged steaks, chops and Jidori chicken after serving as executive sous chef at Patina Restaurant Group’s Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA. Prior to that, he was executive sous chef at Michael Mina’s Forbes Four-Star Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach, where he led and mentored a staff of 50 professionals. He has worked as executive sous chef at BlueFire Grille in Weston Tysons Corner in Virginia; as sous chef at AAA Four Diamond The Vue at the Marriott Laguna Cliffs, Dana Point, CA; and at Hush Restaurant in Laguna Beach. Neyra is fluent in English and Spanish and received his Diploma in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu, Pasadena, CA in 2004.

Pascal & Cafe Jardin

Pascal Olhats is extraordinary French born, and trained Executive Chef, and restaurateur. He has won numerous awards, owning and collaborating on a number of restaurants in Newport Beach over the past 27 years. He currently owns four businesses, including: Café Jardin Restaurant & Pascal’s Tea Garden Creperie (on the lush grounds of Sherman Gardens & Library in Corona del Mar), Pascal’s Café in San Juan Capistrano (a café/ bakery/ fine dining establishment) , and Pascal’s Catering (offering full-service catering for 20 years throughout Southern California). Pascal also partners with Manassero Farms, and orchestrates breakfasts, dinners, and incredible special events, often showcasing guest chef specialties with ingredients from the farm.

Born in Normandy , France and like many chefs in Europe, it is all about apprenticeships in the kitchen. Pascal’s his first jobs were in the top kitchen of his home town of Rouen. This included, Hotel de Dieppe and La Couronne in the heart of the old city. La Couronne also happens to be the first restaurant Julia Child visit when she and her husband moved to France. She enjoyed the Sole Meuniere by the way.)

Next stop was Brussels and Pascal spent 4 years attending school at the CERIA, a hotel and restaurant college. From there he worked for the well-known Chef Paul Bocuse, first as a server and then as Chef de Rang (Assistant Head Waiter). From there he moved to Lyon, which is well known for the production and weaving of silk, capital of gastronomy in France, and home to Paul Bocuse’s inside food hall and market, Les Halles de Lyon on Cours Lafayette. There Pascal worked at Leon de Lyon Restaurant, as Chef de Rang. From the river’s edge, it was to the shore and St. Tropez was calling. His next job was Service Staff Manager for three years at the famous Club 55. He was also in charge of catering and cooked and served for many celebrities. . In 1984 Pascal moved to the United States working as Chef for Piret’s Restaurant, then Chef de Cuisine for Le Meridien Hotel in Newport Beach. He was also the Executive Chef at Player’s in Irvine, followed by an Executive Chef position at the Chanteclair Restaurant in Newport Beach.

In addition to managing day-to-day operations of his four businesses, Pascal consults for other restaurant groups (including: French 75, Savannah Chophouse and Brasserie Pascal), was recently hire by the Macanese government of Tourism, to promote and demonstrate their cuisine in the United States, and travels the world with groups to explore countries, culture and cuisine.

Awards and Accolades:

  • Named Chef of the year in 1991 by the California Writers Association
  • President of the French Chefs Association of Southern California for three years
  • Pascal Restaurant has been rated the #1 restaurant in Orange County for 15 years by the Zagat Guide; 16/20 Gault Millau; 10/10 by Elmer Dills… serves light French cuisine with Provencal flair… seen on Oprah for his “Diet a la French”.
  • Wine Spectator Award of Excellence
  • 2006 Restaurant Hall of Fame National Award
  • Great chefs of America
  • Restaurant Hall of Fame in America
The Golden Truffle

Chef Greeley has been catering in Southern California for over 40 years. In 1993, he was awarded Chef of the Year by Southern California Restaurant Writers Association. In 2000, Chef Greeley was awarded Chef of the Decade by the Orange County Business Journal and in 2008, he received recognition for the Small Business from the National Philanthropic Association. Recently as awarded Costa Mesa Man of The Year was inducted into South Coast Metro Hall of Fame and received a Congressional Award of Merit! Most recently, he was named Orange County’s Chef of the Year 2013 at the Golden Foodie Awards. Chef Greeley is currently owner and Executive Chef of the The Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa.

The Resort at Pelican Hill

Jean-Pierre Dubray’s passion for food and cooking was home grown. He grew up in the kitchen of his family’s country house in France’s Loire Valley, where they produced much of their own food. He enjoyed helping his mother prepare big family meals and by the time he was 15, when he enrolled in culinary school, he had decided it would be his life’s work.

Dubray came to the United States in 1980 when he had an opportunity to be part of the opening team for La Vie en Rose restaurant in Brea, Calif. –and he has been in the Golden State ever since. In 1984, Dubray joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company becoming the first dining room chef of the then newly opened The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. In 1987, he opened The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage in the Palm Springs area, and over the years was sent on 14 overseas assignments as a team trainer for the openings of Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world. It was in1991, however, when the opportunity came –to open The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco as executive chef–that would accelerate his career to the highest level. Demonstrating exceptional skills and creativity, he helped make The Dining Room one of the country’s culinary stars and a recipient of countless honors, including the AAA Five Diamond rating and one of only two restaurants in California and 17 in all of North America with Exxon/Mobil’s Five-Star designation.

He reached the pinnacle of accomplishment and recognition at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco –establishing the credentials to take the culinary reins of The Resort at Pelican Hill®, where he oversees Andrea Ristorante, the Coliseum Pool &Grill, Pelican Grill at Pelican Hill Golf Club®, the Resort’s pastry and bakery operations, in-room dining to 128 Villas and 204 Bungalows, and catering and special event services, both on-site and off-premise. Chef Dubray has been a guest chef for a James Beard Foundation event in San Francisco and for numerous charitable events for such organizations as the March of Dimes and Meals On Wheels. He has participated in many promotional events with celebrity chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and Julia Child. Among the numerous awards he has received, the Marin County Branch of the International Wine and Food Society named him “Outstanding Chef of the Year” in 2002, and later the same year the French Minister of Agriculture awarded him the prestigious “Le Merite Agricole.”

Andrea Pelican Hill

In his family’s kitchen in Puglia, Italy, Chef Marco Criscuolo made some of his fondest childhood memories helping his mother prepare his favorite dishes. In her kitchen, he learned to cook by the “golden rule” of treating the ingredients with respect –storing, preparing and enjoying each morsel as a thoughtful component of each dish. With this approach, he learned to create Italian classics, like homemade focaccia bread with seasonal vegetables from his family’s home garden and orecchiettealsugo di braciole, a pasta dishwith veal sauce, often savored during Sunday lunch feasts with his large extended family. During the winter and spring seasons, he learned his grandmother’s recipe for fave e cicoria, a traditional dry fava bean purée. Although he felt deeply inspired by his early cooking experiences and his mother’s and grandmother’s culinary talents, Chef Marco first pursued accounting studies at the guidance of his parents. Within a year, his true passion led him to enroll in culinary school at Italy’s IstitutoAlberghieroCesareBraico in Brindisi. A decade later, Chef Marco’s professional culinary experiences around the globe, including posts held in Sweden, Holland, Egypt, the United Kingdom and Australia, prepared him to become head chef of The Resort at Pelican Hill’s acclaimed Andrea Ristorante. Chef Marco came to Pelican Hill in 2011 as Pelican Grill sous chef, but soon after his expertise and authentic Italian roots led him to join Andrea Ristorante as souschef. Today, he channels the example of his family and the authentic dishes they prepared from scratch with mindful veneration for the best ingredients. Chef Marco remains committed to sourcing fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, just as his family did with its vegetable garden, fig trees and 300 century-old olive trees used to produce their own extra virgin olive oil blend each autumn.

Pelican Grill

Early on, Chef Luke Turpin felt drawn to the Pacific Ocean and its scenic California coastline, as well as the dreamy seaside lifestyle and fresh seafood best enjoyed in beach towns along the coast. Growing up in California’s inland Central and San Joaquin Valleys, he frequently headed west for brief escapes to surf California’s Half Moon and San Francisco Bays. As soon as he could, he packed his belongings and moved to coastal Los Angeles to pursue a culinary career. Inspired by his appreciation for good food and enamored by the interplay and interdependence of each role in the kitchen, Chef Luke discovered his culinary aspirations during a brief stint as a restaurant dishwasher. Although his limited cooking experience at the time included preparing waffles alongside his two older brothers in his family’s kitchen back home, Chef Luke enthusiastically pursued opportunities to learn from respected culinary professionals. As his knowledge and passion grew, Chef Luke emerged as a self-taught culinary leader who progressed into management based on his successful practical training, rather than a formal culinary education. He served as executive chef of Valente in Restaurant and Wine Bar in Bakersfield, executive chef of the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California and sous chef of M Street Kitchen, also in Santa Monica. As head chef of Hollywood’s The Hungry Cat seafood restaurant, Chef Luke significantly advanced his culinary creativity by serving artisan-focused, fresh, locally sourced ingredients. With several daily menu specials and the menu changing every three weeks, he continuously introduced new items while simultaneously maintaining a waste-free environment. In early 2014, Chef Luke joined The Resort at Pelican Hill along the coast of Newport Beach. He quickly advanced from sous chef of the Resort’s poolside Coliseum Pool & Grill restaurant to head chef of Pelican Hill Golf Club’s signature restaurant. Now, Chef Luke brings the freshest, locally sourced seafood to Pelican Grill, while upholding the team-oriented, inspirational leadership style he passionately cultivated in exceptional kitchens across Los Angeles.

Ritz Prime Seafood

Philip (Phil) Kastel, Executive Vice President of Culinary for Grill Concepts, serves as the creative culinary master of Daily Grill. As EVP of Culinary for Grill Concepts, Chef Kastel also oversees culinary operations, menu creation and new product development for The Grill on the Alley, Daily Grill, Public School, and The Ritz Prime Seafood in Newport Beach. In total, he is responsible for 31 locations in nine states throughout the U.S. Previously, Kastel was an Executive Chef of Hillstone Restaurant Group in Newport Beach, CA, where he operated DBA Houstons, Cafe R&D, Bandera and Gulfstream Restaurants. Kastel is a graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu with an AOS Degree in Culinary Arts and Sciences & Restaurant Management. Kastel was born and raised in California’s Conejo Valley and currently resides in Los Angeles.


Chef Cathy Pavlos is the driving force behind one of Orange County’s most unique and dynamic eateries, LUCCA. The Irvine-based restaurant is known for its one-of-a-kind menu, reminiscent of a Euro bistro, complete with an exquisite wine bar, wide selection of cheese and charcuterie offerings and seasonal tasting menus.

Chef Cathy grew up in a typical close-knit large Italian family and most of her childhood memories of family have to do with cooking with her grandmother for Sunday family gatherings. Though educated as an architect and an art historian, and despite more than 20 years in architectural practice and as a college professor, Chef Cathy has always been drawn back to cooking. Having traveled to Italy every year for the past 30 years, she has been developing a collection of remarkable recipes, inspired by her grandmother’s cooking and her favorite restaurants in Italy, France and Greece. These recipes, seen on LUCCA’s menu, have been slightly modified to build in the flavors of California with its emphasis on the use of healthy and high quality ingredients, such as certified Angus beef, free-range turkey, hormone-free chicken, wild salmon and locally grown organic produce.

Chef Cathy oversees an ever-changing seasonal menu at LUCCA that complements the restaurant’s unique wine list, which features more than 30 wines by the glass, with a choice of 2.5-ounce or 6-ounce pour of wine, encouraging guests to be adventurous with their selections.

LUCCA has been referred to as “an urban concept in a suburban center”with many facets –it is an inviting space where casual friendliness quickly meets a few chic big-city elements, including cozy tables on a large banquette, a gas-burning fireplace and sensual curved features. Since opening her doors in 2005, Chef Cathy has led LUCCA in Irvine to become among the best in the region for its one-of-a-kind dining, off-site catering and wine bar.

Having earned a reputation as one of Orange County’s most unique and dynamic chefs in Orange County, Chef Cathy opened Provenance, a new dining concept promising to deliver elements of California’s wine country, in Newport Beach’s Eastbluff Village Center in March 2014. The restaurant feature a menu of fresh, flavorful ingredients that change by season, and many of which are grown in the restaurant’s own 1,300-square-foot organic raised-bed garden, which customers can observe from their patio seating.

Chef Cathy, who describes her menu of contemporary California cuisine as Napa-esque, focuses on seasonal garden offerings, with signature sandwiches and lighter fare at lunch, and the addition of larger plates at dinner, along with daily specials. The menu changes daily, weekly and monthly, based on the garden’s offerings. Chef Pavlos’ culinary team make all sauces, dressings and other items in-house with a focus on canning, preserving and smoking. The menu also features only humanely raised meats, such as certified Angus beef, free-range turkey, hormone-free chicken and wild sea foods.

Montage Laguna Beach

Executive Pastry Chef Lee Smith, who has over 24 years of experience in the industry, leads a team of pastry chefs, chocolatiers and bakers, and works closely with the catering and conference services teams, as well as the resort restaurants, to create innovative pastry concepts for all guests. Chef Lee also develops the resort’s creative line-up of pastries, confections, breads, chocolates and in-room amenities. The England native came to the United States in 1999 to work at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Prior to joining the culinary team at Montage Laguna Beach, Chef Lee served as the Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for the Innovative Dining Group, based in California, where he developed multiple restaurant concepts for the greater Los Angeles area.

Stonehill Tavern

Alan Mardonovich was recently named the Executive Chef of STONEHILL TAVERN, A Michael Mina Restaurant at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. In his new role, he will be working to elevate the menu and create food centered on Mina’s philosophy of bold and balanced flavors. Working with his team, Mardonovich is excited to create new menus and experiences for guests and usher in a new era for Stonehill Tavern by upholding its traditions of excellence in both service and cuisine.

Mardonovich started his education from a very early age, helping his mother in the kitchen and learning the fundamentals. It continued when, as a young adult, he moved to Las Vegas and spent time with some of the world’s top chefs. He began by learning about seafood and sustainability under Rick Moonen, studied Charlie Trotter’s “less is more” philosophy as Executive Sous Chef, and finally worked closely with legendary French Chef Guy Savoy as Chef De Cuisine. Most recently, he had been running the kitchen at Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill before taking over the back of house at Stonehill Tavern. Mardonovich is eager to take the lessons learned from each of these fantastic restaurants and apply them to make the Stonehill Tavern menu a vibrant and memorable experience.

A Southern California native, Mardonovich is excited to leave the dry deserts of Nevada and return to the sunny beaches and mountains of Orange County. When not in the kitchen, he can be found surfing the waves of local beaches or seeking out fresh powder on the Sierra Mountains.

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.


Executive Chef Rob Wilson joined Montage Laguna Beach in 2010 to oversee culinary operations with an emphasis on special events. As Executive Chef, he manages the day-to-day operations of the main kitchens and ensures that the best quality products are used throughout the property.

Chef Wilson has an extensive culinary background, and is a graduate of Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. He began his culinary career when was just a teenager and started as a dishwasher at the Dana Point, California Chart House restaurant. He quickly worked his way to head cook and excelled from there.

His culinary path has included time at Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, California, where he worked as a Sous Chef, and he eventually went on to be co-owner and Executive Chef of, Cervino’s in Mammoth Lakes, California. Prior to joining Montage Laguna Beach, Chef Wilson spent the past thirteen years with The Ritz Carlton company, most recently serving as Executive chef at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Here he worked at various locations in California and was part of the opening team for seven of their hotels across the U.S. He was also named “Chef of the Year” in 2008 by Chef Magazine.

Chef Wilson enjoys the outdoors, and activities such as: surfing, stand up paddle boarding, snowboarding and riding motorcycles. He currently resides in Laguna Niguel, California with his wife and two children.

Honda Center

Chef Joseph “Jo-Jo” Doyle serves as the new Executive Chef of Honda Center. As of July, 2013, Honda Center took its food and beverage operations in-house, a venture that only a very small number of arenas have taken on. Doyle assisted with the development of the division including menus, procedures and culture.Bringing with him over 15 years of experience, Chef Doyle is responsible for managing all food and beverage offerings at Honda Center, including The Grand Terrace, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Club restaurant and bar, concessions and catering. Chef Doyle has managed the culinary aspects of some of the most high-profile entertainment and sporting events in the world. Chef Doyle has also led the creative development of menus for a variety of impressive events including the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, Ryder Cup, MTV Video Music Awards, NBA Finals, and for such performers as U2, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.


Andrew Gruel, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, is currently the CEO and Founder of Slapfish Restaurant Group, the award-winning food truck turned international brick and mortar, based out of Huntington Beach, CA.

Andrew has appeared on multiple televison series including his most recent role as a judge on the show “Food Truck Face Off.” He has made appearances on the TODAY show, PBS, Cooking Channel, as well as featured in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, Men’s Health, Food & Wine Magazine, Entrepreneur and Restaurant Business. In 2013 he was named top 40 under 40 entrepreneurs in Orange County. 

Gruel’s love of the ocean drove him to direct a non-profit project at The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA called “Seafood for the Future”. In this role, he worked with hundreds of chefs, fisherman and like-minded organizations establishing a national culinary awareness for the sustainable seafood movement.

Andrew is admittedly addicted to the fast pace of the restaurant world and translates that into his business approach to being very hands-on whenever possible.

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.

Filomena's Italian Kitchen

Chef Linda Johnsen is the Owner/Executive Chef of Filomena’s Italian Kitchen in Costa Mesa and Filomena’s Italian Market, opening in Fall 2016. Linda grew up in South Philly in a traditional Italian American family where she spent Sunday’s with her Grandmother, Filomena, and Aunt Rosemary making a pot of Sunday Sauce and learning the secrets to making “homemades” or pasta. This is where the tradition and techniques of Italian cooking were passed down to Linda and what she now shares with her guests in both her restaurants.

The Italian Kitchen has been named one of the Orange County Register’s 2015 Best Top 10 Italian Restaurant’s in the OC, and for a second year in a row, one of the 75 Best Places to Eat in the OC.   Her award-winning pizza has been honored in 2016 by ranking #9 in the Register’s Top 20 Best Pizzas in Orange County, and #4 in Orange Coast magazines Best 28 in the OC.  The Italian Kitchen was also ranked the #1 Restaurant in Costa Mesa by Trip Advisor.

Linda spends the majority of her time making sure her guests are being properly fed as a true Italian mother would do. She currently resides in Newport Beach with her family and can be contacted at   Follow Filomena’s on Facebook & Instagram at “filomenascafe” for the latest events and to see what Linda is whipping up for her customers.

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

Monarch Beach Resort

Chef Thornton up just outside of Toronto, in Hamilton, Ontario and began his kitchen career at 14 in Edmonton, Alberta as a dishwasher. He loved the energy in the kitchen and quickly worked his way up to an apprenticeship at the Edmonton Petroleum Club and then at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald. After that, Chef Thornton relocated to Grand Cayman, B.W.I., and spent the next chapter of my career working in The Caribbean, Bermuda, Hawaii and Canada. He is excited to bring his blend of classical applications and island contemporary techniques combined with vibrant, clean presentations, to the Orange County dining scene with AVEO Table + Bar, 33North, Sombra, Part & Parcel Market, Monarch Bay Club, and Club 19 at Monarch Beach Resort.

Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach

At a young age, Chef Matthew Mintzias found his passion working alongside his father at his fast-food restaurant. He attended The Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. After graduating, he went on to work with Nancy Silverton at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. He quickly worked his way toward a position as Sous Chef at Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach and was recently promoted to Head Chef. Matthew wants to open his own restaurants in the future and hopes to find a way to incorporate his Greek and Korean heritage.

Tanner’s Huntington Beach

Igor Krichmar joins Tanner’s as Executive Chef with an extensive background specializing in fresh and simple cuisine. Krichmar has already developed a menu for Tanner’s centered around a cooking with fire concept and utilizing the restaurant’s impressive 72″ wood fire grill. Prior to coming to Huntington Beach, Krichmar served as Executive Chef at the Temecula Creek Inn where he opened Farm House Kitchen, and developed relationships with local farmers to provide locally sourced produce and staple items for his artisanal menu. A graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Krichmar has fine-tuned his craft at establishments that range from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, California, the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Neveda and The Fat Duck in Burkshire, England.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine to Jewish parents, his family migrated to the United States in 1991. Krichmar can attribute his early culinary passions to the time spent in the kitchen learning kitchen basics from his Russian grandmother. Krichmar believes that happiness and success comes from having a long-term goal in mind.

Five Crowns & Side Door

Steve Kling, Executive Chef of Five Crowns and Side Door in Corona del Mar, epitomizes hard work and dedication. The Southern California native began his career in food as a young prep cook at a small restaurant and quickly ascended through the ranks of the family owned eatery. Embracing his love for culinary arts, Chef Kling proceeded to explore various cooking styles and attained an Executive Chef role at Los Angeles’ popular sushi restaurant, Kado. Chef Kling’s attention to detail and innovation coupled him with esteemed chefs including Chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon in Beverly Hills and Chef Katsuo Nagasawa at Ozuma in Newport Beach.

Chef Kling grew up eating southern American and Filipino cuisine and fondly recalls watching his grandmothers transform raw ingredients into beloved family dishes. These early encounters with food sparked a passion for creative cooking that ultimately led to achieving Executive Chef titles at multiple restaurants. Drawn to the institution of Five Crowns and the concept of SideDoor, Chef Kling joined the Lawry’s family group in 2010. Once again he applied his strong work ethic and creativity to his food, which earned him the title Executive Chef in late 2014. Chef Kling continues to rejuvenate the Five Crowns menu with new flavors that appeal to all ages and takes pride in the intimate atmosphere and unique cuisine of both restaurants.

Five Crowns & Side Door

Café Beau Soleil

Pascal Gimenez is the general manager and executive chef at Café Beau Soleil. He found his passion in food early during his childhood while growing up in the Loire Valley learning to bake and cook from his mother. He studied physics at the school national of chemistry, physics and biology and at Jussieu University in Paris, France. His early taste in food took him from the world of science into culinary where he has worked for more than 20 years learning all aspects of the industry.

Chef Pascal believes in using local ingredients and gets many of his inspiration from seasonal products. He creates a weekly menu with finds from the Farmer’s Market and serving fresh and high quality food to his Café Beau Soleil guests is a commitment that he takes with great pride and responsibility.

Pascal moved from France to California in 2001. He loves being in Newport Beach and when he is not at the Café he is with his most precious creation, his daughter.


Peter started his culinary background while working in his family’s restaurants since he was little. Growing up in the kitchens led him to develop his love and passion for the culinary arts. Instead of participating in after school activities he continued to work into every aspect of a restaurant from dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, and even serving.

After finishing grade school, he pursued a degree at the University of Texas at Austin and eventually a Bachelor’s of Culinary Arts with the Le Cordon Bleu program. He maintained the same work ethic growing up and received the honor of being the school’s Summa Cum Laude. He started his Hyatt career as a Corporate Management Trainee at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in May 2008 and then transferred to Hyatt Regency Lost Pines in February 2013 as a Banquet and Events Culinary Supervisor.

Peter came to Huntington Beach last December as the AM Watertable Sous Chef and has done a great job with both breakfast and lunch. Currently he is the Chef de Cuisine for the Watertable Restaurant and looks over the restaurant’s operations on a daily basis.


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.

Juliette Kitchen + Bar

Executive Chef Daniel Hyatt started cooking at the age of 15, eventually entering the College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. After graduating in 2001 he cooked in Key West until returning to Orange County, where he worked with Tim Goodell to open the Red Pearl Kitchen. A few restaurants later, Chef Daniel met Juliette and opened Juliette Kitchen & Bar.

Sushi Roku

After 19 years with Sushi Roku, Head Chef Shin Toyoda now keeps a watchful eye over Sushi Roku in Newport Beach, which opened in June of 2015. A native of Tokyo, Japan, Chef Shin learned the traditional “Sushi & Kappo” by training under several esteemed Master Chefs at Kanda Muromachi in Tokyo. After gaining his formal training, Chef Shin moved to Los Angeles and after getting a sense of what the Southern Californian diner was seeking by working in the region for 12 years, he joined Sushi Roku Hollywood in 1998. It was there that he began utilizing ingredients such as olive oil, chili peppers and caviar in his sushi and sashimi preparation.


Newport Beach Chef Partner John Vega had an unconventional start to his culinary career, first working as a dishwasher in high school for gas money. After high school, Vega continued to work in various roles throughout the kitchen as he pursued an unrelated career in underwater welding. Vega recognized a passion for the culinary arts as he quickly worked his way up the ranks and decided to follow his true calling.

Vega moved to Los Angeles where he attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles at Pasadena. Upon completing the program, Vega was determined to join the Roy’s Restaurant family after being inspired by an experience at Roy’s. He recalls, “When I was young, I ate at Roy’s Waikoloa and just had to know what sorcery created that chocolate soufflé!”

After being part of the Roy’s family for more than 10 years, Vega has familiarized himself with the true culinary vision of Roy Yamaguchi.


Chris’s passion for ice cream and all things sweet began unexpectedly with an exciting career opportunity at B.CANDY, Corona del Mar while pursuing a bachelor’s in accounting. He had an unconventional start in the ice cream business, but through dedication and support from team members, he has managed to create treats that perfectly reflect the colorful, imaginative world of B.CANDY. Serving as the shop’s ice cream maker since 2012, he has been able to hone his skills and take part in developing unique desserts that are enjoyed by customers of all ages. Drawing inspiration from childhood themes and flavors, a lot of his creations are throwbacks and twists on classics that are a must-try. Cookie Monster, Fruity Pebbles, and Rainbow Cotton Candy are just examples of an ever-growing list of award-winning flavors offered at B.CANDY.

Maggiano’s South Coast Plaza

Raised in an Italian-Irish-German family, cooking was at the forefront of our pastime. My zeal for cooking matured throughout the years and I knew that it would become a lifelong passion. My professional culinary background began at The Southern California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. Soon thereafter, I began my internship with Gorden Biersch Brewing Company, and continued to McCormick & Schmick’s for the next 10 years. My love for Italian cuisine has brought me to Maggiano’s, where I have enjoyed being a part of the team for the past two years. Being a foodie at heart- I love discovering innovative cooking styles to blend with the comfort of our traditional made-from-scratch meals.

Nordstrom Cafe Bistro

Chef Anthony L. Santos comes from a household of many. The youngest of three brothers, he learned at a very young age that throughout life, quality time at the dinner table would always bring family together. Anthony’s father was a chef for the Long Beach Naval Hospital for over twenty five years and this is where his interest in creating memorable dishes began to grow, and ultimately a rewarding career.

In 2004, Chef Santos looked to sharpen his home grown abilities in the kitchen by attending Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. Immediately upon graduating, Chef Santos had the opportunity to not only work alongside, but both mentally and physically digest the artistry of Chef Morimoto. Chef Santos would then be able to make an impact at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he would be able to call home for over five years. An opportunity then paved way to the Nordstrom Café in Mission Viejo, in 2009. It was here he was able to express his life blessings and journeys into culinary form as he grew from sous chef to executive chef during his first year.

Today, Chef Anthony L. Santos demonstrates his passion and skill at the Nordstrom Café Bistro in Newport Beach. Not only does Chef Santos strive to serve delicious and beautifully presented dishes, but also ones that keep health and the local community in mind.

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

Nothing Bundt Cakes
True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen


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.”