Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero, other hotels name F&B leaders

A number of hotels across the country and around the world named new leaders in their food and beverage divisions in the first days of February. Here are some names to know.

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero

The Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero appointed Gunnar Planter executive chef of Orafo, the upcoming California-Italian inspired restaurant opening later this month.   

Originally from San Diego, Planter began his culinary career in his hometown of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., at French restaurant Mille Fleurs. Over the next six years, he worked his way up to sous chef at Mille Fleurs while obtaining his Bachelor of Culinary Science from The Art Institutes. Planter grew his experience training at private social clubs, hotels and restaurants and later as executive sous chef at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. In the following years, he was executive chef opening Viewpoint in Del Mar, Calif., and later at Ebullition Gastronomy in Carlsbad, Calif. Most recently, Planter was executive chef at Hotel Mar Monte’s Café Lido, in Santa Barbara, Calif.   

Kona Village

Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort on Hawaii Island, appointed Victor Palma executive chef and Dan Daughtry director of food and beverage. Opening in summer 2023, Kona Village is the Rosewood brand’s first flag in Hawaii. Palma and Daughtry will launch the resort’s five restaurants. 

Over the course of his two-decade career, Palma worked across four Rosewood properties in Mexico and the U.S., leading dining programs at Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort and Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, both in Mexico. His most recent role was executive chef at The Cape by Thompson Hyatt in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  

Daughtry joins the Rosewood team with 30 years of experience in the food-and-beverage sector. He began his career at Hyatt Regency Maui and worked at properties in North America, Micronesia and Bermuda, most recently at the Garden of the Gods Resort & Club in Colorado Springs, Colo..

Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta

Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta appointed Philipp Martens director of restaurants, bars and events and Sergii Chepko assistant director of food and beverage. In their new roles, Martens and Chepko will manage the hotel’s food and beverage division including Spaceman, the rooftop bar and lounge, and Three Arches, the hotel’s restaurant.

Martens began his career at Caesar Park Hotel in Panama before moving to New York City to work in luxury hotels including the Hyatt Grand Central New York and  the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Hawaii. Martens obtained a degree in business administration and hospitality management from Glion Institute of Higher Education.

Chepko has worked at properties including Grand Hyatt Doha Hotel & Villas, Hyatt Regency Tashkentin in Uzbekistan and Grand Hyatt Atlanta before joining the Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta team. He began his career as the restaurant and microbrewery director at Pivna Duma, a microbrewery and restaurant in Ukraine. 

Hotel Lucine

In Galveston, Texas, the Hotel Lucine named Leila Ortiz executive chef. In her new role, Ortiz will oversee and manage the day-to-day operations of the kitchen at the hotel, including the all-day menu at its lobby restaurant, rooftop bar and pool, as well as The Fancy, Hotel Lucine’s main restaurant with 55 seats.

Ortiz comes to Hotel Lucine after stints in the kitchens of Sheraton and Westin hotels, as sous chef of New York’s Momofuku Noodle Bar and as sous chef and operations manager for Houston’s UBPreserv. 

Hawks Cay Resort

Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, Fla., appointed Kaila Nasci director of catering and Morgan Cox catering sales manager. Together, Nasci and Cox will manage catering contracts, budgets, suppliers and logistics for the largest resort in the Florida Keys.

In her most recent role at the resort, Nasci sold and serviced over 100 weddings during her two years as a catering sales manager. Before that, she was regional group sales manager of the Florida Keys Collection at Ocean Properties, where she sold group rooms for 15 properties. As the director of catering at Hawks Cay, Nasci will be responsible for leading the catering department and its staff and managing sales of food and beverages packages for events.

Originally from Auburndale, Fla., Cox will be responsible for planning food and beverage menus, coordinating with the operations team and client management. 

Elms Hotel and Spa

In Excelsior Springs, Mo., the Elms Hotel and Spa, a part of the Destination by Hyatt portfolio, appointed Christian Arriaga executive chef. In his new role, Arriaga will lead the property’s Three Owls restaurant, The Tavern and Cafe Soterian; curate specialty menus and oversee banquet events; and oversee the culinary team as a whole.  

Before joining The Elms Hotel & Spa team, Arriaga most recently was at the Hyatt Regency Dallas Fort Worth, first as chef de cuisine and then as executive sous chef. Arriaga was born in Coahuila, Mexico, and moved to San Francisco at 13 where he got his start in the industry as a dishwasher. His early career consisted of several positions including prep cook, line cook and kitchen lead. 

Scrub Island Resort

The Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina in the British Virgin Islands appointed Greg Best as executive chef. Best will oversee operations and menu development at the resort’s various food-and-beverage outlets and will direct events taking place in the 17,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and banquet space.

Most recently, Best was chef de cuisine at the Rosewood Little Dix Bay in Virgin Gorda. He also held positions as culinary director at various resorts in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and West Indies, where he received his culinary training. 

Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa

Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa in Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica, appointed Saul Umaña culinary director. In his new role, Umaña will develop new food and beverage projects including new menus and sustainable initiatives.    

A native Costa Rican with more than a decade of culinary and hotel experience, Umaña previously was head chef for the Marriott St. Kitts and Santarena Hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Towards the beginning of his career, Umaña worked at Kokotxa, a Michelin restaurant in the Basque Country. Most recently, Umaña was culinary director for Islas Secas Reserve & Resort in Panama, where he led all culinary operations including staff training, menu development and kitchen management for the resort. 

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., appointed Keith Theodore VP of culinary. Theodore will oversee all food production and create menus for the resort’s dining venues including Grand View Restaurant, Rocks Bar and Lounge, Kissing Camels Grille, poolside dining, in-room dining and banquets and events.

Theodore has worked in several Colorado hotels including The Broadmoor Hotel, where he began his career as an apprentice and worked his way up to the sous chef position at The Tavern and The Charles Court. He joined the St. Regis Resort in Aspen as the executive sous chef, where he developed the Chefs Club. Theodore worked as the executive chef of Syzygy Restaurant and then The Little Nell resort in Aspen. During his eight years at The Little Nell, he started as the executive banquet chef of the property’s banquet and catering operation, eventually being promoted to executive chef. 

Mauna Lani

Hawaii Island’s Mauna Lani, an Auberge Resorts Collection property, appointed Mark Libunao the new executive chef of its CanoeHouse restaurant. Libunao worked on CanoeHouse’s reopening as sous chef from March 2021 to June 2022, after which he became chef de cuisine.

Before his appointment to executive chef, Libunao worked as sous chef at the Mandarin Oriental and Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas before joining Mauna Lani where he reinvented the menu at HāLani, the resort’s outdoor restaurant.