Corporate Executive Chef
Gobbling up homemade chocolate chip cookies has been a culinary primer for kids in the kitchen for generations. For Corporate Executive Chef, Ron Fougeray, the techniques and ingredients were more intriguing. His quest for knowledge eventually led him to study at the respected Johnson & Wales University in the Culinary Arts Program.
Time spent at Philadelphia’s most famous restaurant, Le Bec-Fin proved instrumental for Chef Ron. Considered an institution in Philadelphia, the restaurant was rated America’s finest French restaurant, and Mobil Travel Guide consistently awarded it five stars for 40 years. During his nearly seven year tenure, Chef Ron was mentored by renowned owner and French chef, Georges Perrier, and worked his way up to Chef de Cuisine. Georges left an indelible impression on Chef Ron, teaching him to expect only the highest standards for his menu, staff and cooking equipment. Chef Georges continues to be a mentor and personal friend. In 2009, Chef Ron transitioned to Bibou BYOB, where he worked side-by-side with owner and chef, Pierre Calmels. He started off as Chef de Cuisine and worked his way up to Executive Chef in 2013. Bibou garnered a variety of accolades during his tenure. GQ Magazine named it one of “The Top 10 New Restaurants” and it was voted the top restaurant in Philadelphia on NBC.com. It was also named a James Beard Finalist for Best New Restaurant and received four bells (highest rating) from the Philadelphia Inquirer. There were only four restaurants in the entire city to be awarded that distinction.
For the past three years, Ron has been Executive Chef of Surf & Sand Resort, including banquet operations and renowned Splashes Restaurant. He is excited to work with and lead a larger team as Corporate Executive Chef, overseeing all culinary operations for JC Resorts. Having learned from such respected culinarians, Chef Ron is passionate about making everything from scratch and sourcing the finest possible ingredients. A keen appreciation for food history plays a large role in the style and flavors that he brings to all JC Resorts dining. While in the kitchen, Chef Ron stresses teamwork to elevate the performance of the entire staff. Everyone being in sync is critical to achieving the ultimate goal – smiles from guests.
“Culinary arts is a revolving wheel. It helps to remember the ideas and techniques of those that came before us, while putting a modern twist on flavors and presentation.”
Regional Sommelier & Cellar Master
Joe Baumgardner, our Sommelier & Cellar Master at JC Resorts, has been bringing new wines and exciting pairings to the table at AVANT since October 2015. Joe’s interest in wine was sparked by his father who collected wines in the 1960s and 70s (and lucky for Joe, he was able to learn about these wines by dipping into the family cellar when his father wasn’t looking). Working in restaurants since the age of 15, it became apparent that Joe’s passion was strong enough that he should pursue a career in wine. He achieved the Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild in 2008.
Director of Food & Beverage
Christopher Reid, Director of Food & Beverage at Rancho Bernardo Inn, brings a wealth of executive leadership to the position. Reid has been Director of F&B at La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, General Manager and Wine Director at Hotel Del Coronado’s 1500 Ocean, Managing Partner at downtown San Diego’s Magnolia Tap & Kitchen, and Director of Outlets at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Additionally, he was the General Manager of Puesto San Diego, organizing the company’s transition from a single unit fast-casual concept to a multi-unit full service business model.
Christopher became passionate about food & beverage at a young age. This passion, combined with a sense of wanderlust, took him on an international journey in his early twenties, exposing him to a wider world of food and beverage. Christopher’s philosophy is, “To eat well, you must travel well; and to travel well, you must eat well.” Reid enjoys the continuous changes happening in this industry, from grape varietals to cooking techniques noting, “Food nourishment is one of few things that all living beings have in common – and several of us have a true appreciation for it.” Reid has continually expanded his culinary knowledge, and is particularly interested in pairing wine with food. His training includes classes through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and feels Rancho Bernardo Inn has a truly fantastic wine program. Additionally, Reid feels Rancho Bernardo Inn is particularly well positioned to take advantage of emerging trends in the industry - hyperlocal foraging, experiential dining, exclusive Chef-driven tasting menus, and health-conscientious, ‘thoughtful’ cuisine.
Reid’s management philosophy is to provide an unparalleled dining experience while delivering on his five quality measurables: food, beverage, ambiance, service, and value. “If high marks are earned in these areas while consistently exceeding expectations within our five senses, the potential is limitless.”
We are thrilled to have Christopher here at the Inn as our Director of Food & Beverage.
Executive Chef Laurent Elmerich began his culinary journey as a child, watching his father create dishes at home that were simple and delicious. By the age of fifteen, he landed his first job in a small restaurant in his hometown of Strasbourg, France - and hasn’t left the kitchen since. Prior to joining Rancho Bernardo Inn, Laurent worked in Michelin starred restaurants in France, including the renowned Au Crocodile and also was given the opportunity to cook a private dinner for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Laurent’s culinary journey ultimately led him to California, where he worked at L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills, before helming the kitchen at the St. Regis Monarch Beach as the Executive Sous Chef. “I like to see myself as a leader and not a boss, always supporting my team and ready to jump and turn off the fire when needed. I strive to lead by example, and always remember that respect is not given, but rather earned. I always work towards that,” says Laurent.
Margaret Nolan Carvallo
Executive Pastry Chef
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.
Chef Christopher Gentile
AVANT Chef de Cuisine
Instilled with a passion for food from the moment he could reach the stove, AVANT Chef de Cuisine Christopher Gentile started with the basics – mastering the perfect breakfast eggs and homemade ravioli from his father. Growing up in an Italian family with a true love for food, Chef Christopher learned valuable lessons from his father early. One lesson he recalls fondly, “You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.”
While in high school, Chef Christopher's family moved to North Carolina from Vero Beach, Florida. Chef Christopher got his professional culinary start at The Inn on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. He progressed from dishwasher to line cook quickly. During Chef Christopher's freshman year of college, he was promoted to Sous Chef at the prestigious eatery. Spending a total of 3 years as Sous Chef, Chef Christopher focused on learning the basics of French cuisine.
At the age of twenty, Chef Christopher travelled across the US and staged at 4 different Michelin Star restaurants before ending his tour in San Diego. Chef Christopher spent time with the Enlightened hospitality group as a Sous Chef and eventually Chef de Cuisine. Next for Chef Christopher was a renewed focus on the world of fine dining. He became Chef de Cuisine at L’Auberge Del Mar’s Kitchen 1540 and then lead cook at Nine Ten in La Jolla, under the direction of Chef Jason Knibb. After this, Chef Christopher received an offer to have his own restaurant and in 2014 opened Double Standard Kitchenette in San Diego. He then opened Parma Italian Roots in Scottsdale, Arizona. The restaurant won best new Italian restaurant, best new restaurant and Chef Christopher took home the title of best new chef in the Phoenix area.
Chef Christopher longed to return to San Diego, however, and yearned to live in this gorgeous city permanently. AVANT was the right answer. As Chef de Cuisine at AVANT, Chef Christopher is excited to be at Rancho Bernardo Inn and progress the menu at its signature dining establishment. His goal - give every single guest a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Jason Sorge comes from a family of artists—there’s a woodturner, a baker, and a painter. He inherited his passion for flavor combinations from his mom who is a wiz at pairing ingredients.
Even during his career in leadership development, he wanted to unleash that creativity in the liquid realm. After dabbling at parties and doing an internship at Ken Wright Cellars, he sought to learn bartending from his friend Hector Bury who had 30 years of bar and restaurant experience. Sorge has never looked back. When Sorge was the lead bartender of Scott Conant’s Scarpetta at Montage Beverly Hills, he worked with the renowned mixologist Rob Floyd. Floyd said bartenders are liquid chefs; Sorge has never forgotten this.
Sorge lives in a world of ideas and possibilities. He’s collected data from his surroundings, travels, childhood and experiences. With these influences, he is constantly noodling on innovative ways to introduce flavors and concepts. He is constantly tinkering on ways to do it all better.
Sorge says it this way “We are all standing on other people’s shoulders. There are the classics and then we improvise on flavors and ingredients to establish something similar or altogether different. I have a keen sense of how flavor profiles work, how they fit together like instruments in a band. A cocktail riff is a lot like a cover of a song—when you hear a good cover, you think, ‘Wow. That was super interesting. I really dig how that was created.’ I hope people have a similar experience when they taste one of my cocktails.”
Chef's Gardener and Head Beekeeper
Chef's Gardner and Head Beekeeper Zachary Johnson fell in love with the outdoors and food almost instantly. The warmth of the Northern California sun, the green grass of early morning soccer matches, the picnics in Santa Cruz, the retreats to the forests of Lake Tahoe, and the smell of fresh earth in his mother's garden very happily birthed an inquisitive and hungry child. Raised with the American River directly behind his parents' house the adventure began and hasn't stopped since. Years were spent exploring and learning about the local flora and fauna. Growing up with an Italian and Portuguese mother who cooked and grew vegetables herself, it truly set the table for a joyous life in food.
Starting as a fry cook and dishwasher at 15 at a small Ma and Pa burger joint in Sacramento, Zachary continued being a part of the industry throughout college and beyond. He has worked as a farmer and a cook for a small health food cafe where, with his business partner, they grew their produce for the restaurant. He has also worked in fine dining on the tatami at the renowned Yoshi's Jazz Club in historic Jack London's Square in Oakland, California. Food Culture and its importance to the family unit was always stressed growing up, resulting in the best memories being surrounded by his giant family and of course food.
After getting a degree in Audio Engineering and living abroad in Berlin, Germany, Zachary came back home to a job opportunity helping a local beekeeper. Curiosity and a desire to be outside again took over. Years later with his business partner, Twin Rivers Honey was producing small batch wildflower honey for the local Sacramento area. It was in beekeeping that farming, and gardening happened again. Exposed to the farms and nurseries where his hives were, Zachary began to dive deeper into food production, resulting in working and learning at a 160 acre no spray organic farm in wine country outside of Sacramento. A child of mother nature and lover of the sun, Zachary invites all friends and guests at the Rancho Bernardo Inn to come and spend time in a beautiful garden retreat and to continue this culinary adventure together!