The Kessler Collection welcomed four new executive chefs to its team.
Mark Santiago, executive chef, 700 Drayton Restaurant
Joining Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah, Ga., with 15 years of culinary experience, Santiago has already made a name for himself since graduating from the Art Institute of Seattle in 2002.
Learning the importance of large-scale cooking, Santiago began his career leading banquet production for companies such as The Westin and Hyatt Hotels. He also had the unique opportunity of working alongside nutritionists to execute delicious meals for a healthy lifestyle, while serving as the executive chef at a luxury residence.
As the former chef at The Westin Savannah Harbor, Santiago comes to The Kessler Collection with a highly regarded reputation in the local market. With his long list of accolades, including his selection as a featured executive chef for the Aquacurean Savannah Food and Wine Festival and nomination as a Leader of the Year, Santiago was a highly sought-out addition to our team for both his creative skills and management expertise.
Equipped with experience in luxury menu offerings, decadent wine events, and artisanal meals with featured local farmers, Santiago will now handle all operations at the restaurant.
Edwin Martinez, executive chef, Lakeside Bar and Grill
Serving as executive chef at The Kessler Collection’s Bohemian Hotel Celebration in Celebration, Fla., Martinez brings an exemplary breadth of knowledge and nearly 20 years of experience to Lakeside Bar and Grill.
Martinez grew to love the culinary arts from a young age having been raised by his stepfather, a local chef. His time spent in the shadows of a kitchen led to an enthusiasm for expertly crafted cuisine, and Martinez ultimately pursued this passion at the Caribbean Hospitality Institute.
After gaining an array of skills due to his successful career in Puerto Rico, Martinez began working for a series of world-renowned companies, including positions at Walt Disney World and Gaylord Palms Resort, leading teams in menu creation, tastings with clients and purchasing tasks.
Having established himself in the culinary world, Martinez moved on to pursue his ultimate dream of owning his own restaurant. This goal came to fruition with alFresco, a 150 seat restaurant in historic downtown Winter Garden, Fla., known for local and sustainable Mediterranean-style dishes.
John Botkin, executive chef, Costa Brava
With more than 25 years in the culinary industry, Botkin joins the team at Casa Monica Resort and Spa in St. Augustine, Fla., as an expert of the restaurant industry. Botkin graduated from the New England Culinary Institute with top marks before venturing out as a restaurant owner where his well-trained techniques and business savvy led him to success. Having established a locals’ favorite restaurant and catering business, Botkin continued accumulating a long list of notable positions, including his role as executive chef to one of the top-grossing Morton’s in the nation and title as executive chef at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas.
From building new menu items to leading our culinary team, Botkin will now oversee all operations at Costa Brava restaurant, bringing his knowledge of locally grown products and Southern-Coastal cuisine to Casa Monica Resort and Spa.
Heyward Davis, executive chef, Rocks on the River
Working in world-class kitchens since graduating from Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Davis has chosen to stay within The Kessler Collection family and will be joining the Bohemian Hotel Savannah (Ga.) Riverfront property as the executive chef of Rocks on the River.
Davis has made his skills invaluable to the company, becoming a key player since joining Kessler as a sous chef in 2015 at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston. While there, he successfully executed banquet events as well as contributed to menu research and development for both the on-site restaurant and café. His unyielding excitement and appetite for improvement led to being named The Kessler Collection “Grand Performer” of 2015, a highly competitive and prestigious award within the brand.
Before joining The Kessler Collection, Davis gained expertise throughout the Southeast, having been the head chef and owner of The Crab Pot Restaurant in South Carolina as well as the manager of The Folly Beach Crab Shack.