The Ritz-Carlton Bacara adds five new chefs to resort’s restaurants
Five new chefs have been added to the restaurants at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. They are Bryon Lopez, sous chef of ‘O’ Bar + Kitchen; Joshua Kellim, restaurant chef of Angel Oak; Leonard Gensolin, restaurant chef of The Bistro and Bar de Vino; Christine Rosell, pastry chef; and Erik Sandve, banquet chef.
The new chefs join executive chef Umit Kaygusuz and executive sous chef Justin Purpura, who oversee the entire culinary operation for the 78-acre resort, which is hosting the “Chefs of Ritz-Carlton” dining series at 5 p.m. Sept.16.
Chefs from California Ritz-Carlton properties including The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco; The Ritz-Carlton, Half-Moon Bay; and The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, join the culinary team at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, to provide a one-of-a-kind culinary experience.
Guests will be able to experience the varied gastronomic delights of each of these iconic, California properties without having to leave Santa Barbara. This al fresco event will foster interaction between the chefs and diners who will learn more about their unique cuisines and culinary journeys.
“I am so pleased to welcome Chefs Bryon, Joshua, Leonard, Christine and Erik aboard the culinary team at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara,” said Chef Kaygusuv. “Their level of expertise, creative and dynamic culinary methodology and passion for delivering incredible dining experiences will be the driving force behind our F&B operations and together as a team, we are excited to bring a new wave of culinary excellence to Santa Barbara.”
Chef Kaygusuz’s passion for culinary arts has taken him to many Michelin-rated kitchens around the world: The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey; The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai; Castle on the Hudson in New York City; La Colombe Restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa; and Savoy Hotel in London.
Fostering the belief that “life is simple, keep it simple,” Chef Kaygusuz, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, creates his menus as a foundation to build on.
“I am inspired by Mediterranean and French cuisine since they have played a strong role in my background. I love to experiment and combine this cuisine with elements of North African, Indian and Asian cooking styles,” he said.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean below, ‘O’ Bar + Kitchen offers a menu of coastal Californian comforts with fresh ingredients including fish pulled directly from the shores and Latin flair that pays homage to the destination, as well as Chef Lopez’s family roots.
Before his most recent role at the Four Seasons Biltmore, Santa Barbara, and his earlier position as chef de partie at Tom Colicchio’s Craft LA, Chef Lopez spent his early childhood watching his grandmother cook the Latin cuisine he now pays tribute to with the ‘O’ Bar menu.
‘O’ Bar + Kitchen draws its inspiration from ‘o’, meaning “water” in the Chumash language, spoken by the indigenous people of Santa Barbara.
‘O’ guides the dining outlet’s ocean-inspired cuisine and takes center stage in the bar’s signature design, which wraps around in a circle, accompanied by notes of coral that play into the water-centric concept.
Menu highlights include the Whole Grilled Branzino “Sarandeado,” served with an herb salsa verde marinade, red onion escabeche, confit cherry tomatoes, radish, black sesame, smoked watermelon, Japanese cucumber and cilantro-scented rice; and Crispy Octopus with herb marinated gigante beans, peppadews, meyer lemon yogurt and Spanish chorizo vinaigrette.
Chef Gensolin is the restaurant chef for The Bistro and its oceanfront wine terrace, Bar de Vino, joining the executive sous chef Chef Purpura. Melding the relaxed style of California living with Mediterranean elegance, The Bistro captures the casual essence of the resort with a menu that highlights fresh and colorful ingredients paired with sustainably caught seafood.
Chef Gensolin’s culinary methodology allows ingredients to speak for themselves, offering simple plates reminiscent of a summer in Italy. He attended culinary school in Northern California and has made his way down the coast, farming produce at Mustards Grill in Napa Valley and helming the kitchen at Four Seasons Biltmore, Santa Barbara.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s signature fine dining restaurant, Angel Oak, has appointed new restaurant chef Joshua Kellim to lead its programming. Chef Kellim joins the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, team with 22 years of experience, beginning his culinary journey as a dishwasher and ultimately rising the ranks to become a sushi chef at Ojai Valley Inn and most recently, chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Biltmore.
He brings a new perspective to Angel Oak, launching an a la carte menu for a more casual and modern take than its former pre-fixe menu. Pushing the limits of a traditional steakhouse, Angel Oak offers a menu that displays local flavors of Santa Barbara, featuring dishes complemented by herbs picked directly from the property’s gardens.
Guests might find freshly picked sage baked into the restaurant’s Parker Rolls, chive and garlic flowers used in steak or seafood dishes and even seagrass harvested from the Pacific.
Menu highlights include Beef Tartare, made with shallots, capers, horseradish cream, pickled mustard seeds, quail egg and grilled sourdough; and the Lobster Tagliatelle, sourced locally when in season, and made with summer truffles, forest mushrooms, aged asiago and tarragon.
Head pastry chef, Christine Rosell, grew up in the Bay Area and studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Her new position at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, is a full circle moment for her as she graduated from UCSB.
Chef Rosell picks sage from the gardens around the property and uses it in house-made rolls at Angel Oak and utilizes lemons from the local Goleta farm, Goleta Organics, to create tasty, sweet lemon scones and lemon-drizzled almond biscotti.
Erik Sandven has taken on the role of banquet chef at the resort after working his way up the ranks, starting his career at an Orange County “mom-and-pop” shop. He fell in love with cooking and decided to pursue it as a career by attending the Culinary School, Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
He has experience across Ritz-Carlton properties, RAYA and Newport Coast Resort at Pelican Hill. In his current role, he is inspired to create a sense of place for guests — he wants them to feel fully immersed in the destination through the food that they experience on property.
“It’s an incredible honor to introduce this dynamic team as our latest culinary leaders at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara,” said Steve Janicek, general manager. “Our intention has always been to immerse guests in the rich bounties of the destination, and I’m delighted to welcome a new team of passionate and talented chefs who bring a fresh perspective as we enhance our culinary programming even further.”