The Waldorf Astoria Panama.
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Whisk Around the World: January/February 2014

Julie Mautner - January/February 2014

John Gray has joined Hilton Worldwide as the exec chef of the 248 room Waldorf Astoria Panama. Gray will also be exec chef of the new Hilton Panama hotel and casino property opening next year. The California-born chef has been running a number of his own restaurants on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula; all have since closed except John Gray’s Kitchen in Puerto Morelos, which will continue to be operated by Dora Sanchez, with Gray consulting on menus. Prior to moving to the Yucatán, Gray was chef de cuisine of the two fine dining restaurants at The Ritz-Carlton Cancún in Mexico.

Blue Haven Resort and Marina held its grand opening on December 5 in the Leeward area of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos. The property houses 35 suites, 16 guest rooms, and a fully renovated 78 slip marina accommodating yachts up to 220 feet on floating docks. An on-site customs and immigration service is available for arrivals by sea. All one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites offer private terraces, and have deluxe kitchens outfitted with Sub- Zero and Thermador appliances. Blue Haven has two restaurants, the casual SALT Bar & Grill and the hotel’s signature restaurant, Fire & Ice. At press time, still to come was the Marketplace: a convenience store and deli cafe offering produce, groceries, beverages, specialty coffees, and prepared foods. The corporate exec chef is Eric Cousin, who was last at Beaches Sandals Resort (Turks and Caicos). The gm is Gerry Dallas, who came over from Seven Stars Resort (Turks and Caicos).

Jonas and Alexandra Millan opened Le Sereno restaurant in the Le Sereno hotel on St. Barts in October. They also have Bonito (St. Barts) and Juvia (Miami Beach). Le Sereno serves Japanese-influenced French fare at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and handles catering and in-room dining. Parisian designer Christian Liaigre did the interiors for the 100 seat restaurant, the indoor bar, and the pool bar. With two exec chefs, Le Sereno has some serious firepower at the stove: Laurent Cantineaux is a Daniel Boulud protégé who came down from Daniel (NYC), and Sunny Oh helmed the kitchen at Nobu South Beach for more than a decade. The exec pastry chef is Gregory Gourreau, who worked for Alain Ducasse and François Payard and was last at Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro (Las Vegas). The chef de cuisine is Mathieu Gourreau, the pastry chef’s younger brother. The Millans are joined for this venture by Juan Carlos Perez (their partner/co-owner at Bonito), Le Sereno hotel owner Luis Contreras, and hotel gm Fred Dubrueil, who returned to Le Sereno after five years running the restaurant at the St. Barth Isle de France Hotel.

Marco Pierre White opened his second restaurant, Marco Pierre White Courtyard Bar & Grill, in Dublin. This one’s in the Donnybrook district, while the first opened on Dawson Street in 2009, both managed by White’s local partner, the restaurant group Fitzers Holdings. The 130 seat space incorporates a high backbar from Venice, Art Nouveau stained glass from Paris, cast-iron columns, and a pitch pine floor, all salvaged gems found at auctions and house sales in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The head chef is Philip Boyd, who was previously at the restaurant on Dawson Street. As members of Good Food Ireland, both Dublin restaurants source beef, lamb, poultry, and pork exclusively from Ireland.

Opened in September, the hotel Memmo Alfama is housed in an ancient courtyard off the narrow streets and winding alleys of Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama. The 42 room Design Hotels property, all done up in warm-toned woods, is meant to evoke the warmth and atmosphere of a lively Portuguese home. A cozy “living room” greets visitors instead of a front desk. Check-in can take place anywhere in the hotel, from the bedrooms to the hotel bar. Books are available to borrow from the library, and a “loyalty fridge” offers drinks and fresh snacks or slices of homemade cakes 24 hours. Madrid-based architect Samuel Torres de Carvalho—who also oversaw the restoration of the hotel’s sister property Memmo Baleeira in Sagres—led the redo of the 19th century building, the highlight of which is a terrace with sweeping views over the red rooftops of Lisbon and the Tejo River. The restaurant is called Memmo Alfama Terrace, and it serves authentic Portuguese cuisine and wine. Hotel exec chef Luis Bernardo and hotel gm Paulo Duarte were both previously at Memmo Baleeira; Duarte is also the corporate director of operations. Rooms start at €145 ($195).

Ritz-Carlton opened its first hotel in Israel in mid-December. The 115 room Ritz-Carlton Herzliya sits in the wealthy seafront town of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv. The hotel is on the marina, and includes 82 luxury residences. Amenities include a rooftop pool and bar, spa and fitness center, ballroom, meeting/conference rooms, sailing, and other water sports. Its Herbert Samuel Restaurant is Ritz-Carlton’s first kosher concept and is the sister to Herbert Samuel in Tel Aviv. The consulting chef on the kosher restaurant is Yonatan Roshfeld, while the hotel’s exec chef is Alon Hershkovitz. Directing the hotel’s f&b is Anthony Borantin and the gm is Gadi Hassin.

Four Seasons Hotel Amman has named Chuck Kazmer its new exec chef. Kazmer’s journey with Four Seasons began in 1991 in Austin, Texas (where he apprenticed), and then he hopped to Dallas, Houston, Boston, and most recently Chicago, where he’s been exec sous chef. The hotel has 192 rooms.

Australian Anthony Healy is the new exec chef at Laucala Island, the 3,200 acre, 25 villa luxury resort in Fiji. He joined the team in October, from Lizard Island Resort, on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where he was also exec chef. Healy replaces Martin Klein, who has returned to Ikarus in Salzburg, Austria. Healy is working closely with the resort’s farm manager to maintain and develop the production of vegetables, fruits, herbs, livestock, and newly bred Wagyu beef. With greenhouses and a farm, the resort is 85 percent self-sustainable and prides itself on its integration of island products into every aspect of the guest experience. Once owned by the Forbes family, Laucala Island was bought by Dietrich Mateschitz, CEO of Red Bull drink company in 2002.