Meet the Chefs
Executive Chef / Director of Culinary Operations
Giacalone’s love affair with food was sparked as a child growing up on a small dairy farm in South-Central Washington State. In 2003 she attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute in Paris, France. After graduating with a degree in both French cuisine and French Pâtisserie (pastry), she honed her culinary skills under the tutelage of some of Paris’s premier chefs and patissieres, including Jean-Louis Nomicos at Lasserre, Laurent Duchene and Pierre Hermé. In 2005, Giacalone returned to San Diego and has continued to perfect her skills in sous chef, chef, and executive chef positions, most recently as executive chef at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Resort.
Always on the hunt for new and interesting things, Carissa currently teaches local culinary classes, acts as the Executive Chef at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, is in the process of writing her own cookbook and continues to pursue her ultimate dream of hosting her own television cooking show.
Chef de Cuisine AVANT
Growing up in a traditional Argentinian home, Tomás Baistrocchi spent his Sundays in the kitchen with his mother cooking lunch and dinner for an extended family of 40. From rolling hundreds of empanadas to manning the grilled chorizo, tri-tip and morcilla, he learned at a young age an appreciation for food, scratch cooking and the family table.
That’s the passion he brings to AVANT, as the restaurant’s new Chef de Cuisine. Recently promoted from Executive Sous Chef, the young and energetic chef worked as the Sous Chef for the Relais & Chateaux Fearrington House Restaurant and Inn in Pittsboro, North Carolina and Executive Sous Chef at Icehouse Restaurant in Minneapolis, MN. With extensive culinary training and restaurant management experience in Argentina and kitchen knowledge gained from great restaurants across the United States, Tomás brings a fresh approach to the already successful AVANT restaurant, with his unique blend of front- and back-of-the-house experience.
His passion and kitchen style highlight the simple ingredients of the season. Give him some extra virgin olive oil, a loaf of bread and a bottle of great wine, and he’s in his happy place. And we’re willing to bet this Buenos Aires transplant can choose one great bottle of Malbec.
Chef de Cuisine Veranda
Jason was born and raised in California of Hispanic descent. His culinary adventure started when he was very young. He used to venture into his mom’s garden, not to check out what was growing, but rather to eat the snails that plagued her garden! Jason’s brother would later comment, “He went from eating snails in the garden to cooking snails in restaurants.”
Once upon a time Jason longed to be a US Marine, but eventually followed his other passion and the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. His hard work, dedication, training and education all came to a head when he was able to realize one of his dreams - working as the Chef de Cuisine for South Coast Winery, the top-ranked winery in Southern California.
Jason is certified as a Level 1 sommelier, has competed on “The Food Networks Chopped” (Season 18, Episode 1), been certified two times by his peers of the ACF, obtained four scholarships for continuing Culinary education (through the AIWF) and joined “Chefs Move to School” – teaching kids about healthy eating. Jason has also recently become a food writer for the LatinoTimes.com.
He is married with four amazing children, otherwise known as “The J6 clan;” Jason, Jakota, Jadon, Jalie, Jaxon, and Jaron. One of Jason’s passions includes teaching his kids all he knows about food and where it comes from. Jason and his kids make frequent trips to their garden, which they affectionately named “Whookie-ba-dookie Garden.”
Pastry Chef (Rancho Bernardo Inn)
Having come from a long line of sweet tooths, Margaret says in her large family, life thrived and revolved around the dining table. Her love for sweets was born during childhood, when tea parties and baking with Grandma were the norm. Today, after having trained at The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, and worked at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, The Ivy Hotel and Currant American Brasserie, this talented chef creates each dessert as though she were embarking on a fun new adventure.