Salamander Resort’s new executive chef and more staff moves

Salamander Resort & Spa, the luxury resort located in Middleburg, Va., outside Washington, D.C., welcomes Ryan Arensdorf as its executive chef. In this new role, Arensdorf will oversee the resort’s entire culinary operation, including Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill, Gold Cup Wine Bar, in-room dining, and the catering and banquet offerings.

With more than a decade of high-level expertise, Arensdorf joins Salamander from the W Hotel Chicago Lakeshore, where he served as chef de cuisine.

Upon completing his education at Chicago’s Kendall College, he began his career at Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse in Chicago. Having worked extensively in the Windy City food scene with renowned chefs, Arensdorf gained top-notch perspective working with Chef Martial Noguier at notable Chicago establishments including Bistronomic, Michael Jordan’s One Sixtyblue and Café des Architectes at Sofitel Chicago Water Tower. He also worked with Chef Todd Stein to open Cibo Matto at theWit Hotel.

Committed to further elevating the resort’s dining experience, Arensdorf is expanding the number of housemade items on every menu and is fully immersing himself within the community to bring in the finest local proteins, butchering them all in-house. Guests can indulge in these prime cuts of meats, try a seasonal dish with ingredients from the resort’s expansive culinary garden, or delight in an enhanced selection of local cheese and charcuterie sliced in-house, paired with housemade pickles and honey made on property by Salamander’s own bees.

Significant modifications also have been made to the Harrimans menu, Salamander’s signature restaurant. Menu highlights include:

  • 16-ounce Prime Beef Delmonico with smoked pancetta pesto
  • Pan-Roasted Sweet Breads with dijon horseradish aioli
  • 48-hour brined "Not Your Mother’s Pork Chop" with cipollini agrodolce
  • Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast with Carolina gold fried rice, shallot confit and orange ginger reduction

Under Arensdorf’s direction, Salamander Resort & Spa will continue to offer a variety of cooking classes in the Harrimans Cooking Studio.

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach in Cancun, Mexico, announced the resort's newly appointed executive chef, Sergio Zarate. With 20 years of culinary experience, Zarate is responsible for all of the property's food-and-beverage operations. For the past two years, Zarate has managed the resort's restaurants and extensive banquet facilities, which often times hosts multiple events in one day.

Previously, Zarate held executive chef positions at resorts throughout the region, including Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Mayakoba, and collaborated at AAA Five Diamond restaurants, such as The Club Grill and Fantino at The Ritz Carlton. He also was the private chef of the royal family of Bahrain.

The Ballantyne

The Ballantyne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte (N.C.) welcomed Kennardo Holder as executive chef. With nearly 17 years of experience, Holder has an extensive background in culinary at Ritz-Carlton properties. As executive chef at The Ballantyne, Holder will oversee the hotel’s banquet and pastry kitchens, Gallery Restaurant and culinary operations.

Before joining The Ballantyne, Holder served as executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester. In this role, he significantly increased employee engagement and food quality while driving food and beverage operational revenues. Before that, Holder worked as executive sous chef at The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colo. Holder also held the positions of executive sous chef and sous chef at The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain in the Kingdom of Bahrain. He began his career at The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort in Rose Hall, Jamaica. Originally from Jamaica, Holder earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the University of Phoenix.

Hilton Sandestin (Fla.) Beach Golf Resort & Spa 

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Hilton Sandestin (Fla.) Beach Golf Resort & Spa appointed Dan Vargo as the new executive chef for the property. In his new position, Vargo will blend Baltimore's traditional and historical influences, Martha’s Vineyard’s emphasis on organic produce and seasonal seafood, and the Ritz-Carlton’s world-class standards for fine dining and excellence in service into the Hilton Sandestin Beach experience. Vargo started his journey at Hilton Sandestin Beach in April 2012 as executive chef at Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, the resort’s AAA Four-Diamond restaurant.

Prior to his time at Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood at Hilton Sandestin Beach, Vargo dedicated eight years to the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, where he worked as executive sous chef and restaurant chef. He also spent two years as executive sous chef at The Boathouse Club in Martha’s Vineyard. 

Park Hyatt Washington D.C.

Troy Knapp was appointed executive chef of the 216-room Park Hyatt Washington D.C.   Knapp brings more than 20 years of experience to Park Hyatt Washington's culinary program, and will focus on creating menus that are heavily influenced by the season with respect for regional traditions and culture.

Prior to Park Hyatt Washington, Knapp was at The Driskill in Austin, Texas. While there, he was responsible for overseeing all culinary operations at the hotel as executive chef since 2013. Prior to The Driskill, Knapp was the executive chef at Hyatt Westlake Plaza in Westlake Village, Calif.; Hyatt Regency Phoenix; and Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio. 

Orlando World Center Marriott

Orlando World Center Marriott appointed Steve Lipschutz as director of food & beverage. In this role, Lipschutz will oversee all food-and-beverage operations for the hotel’s 2,009 guestrooms and suites, 10 restaurants and lounges and a multimillion-dollar banquet operation for the 450,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

Lipschutz brings more than 40 years of industry involvement and 29-plus years of Marriott-specific experience to Orlando World Center Marriott. Since beginning his career in 1977, Lipschutz gained more than a decade of know-how in well-known restaurant franchises before transitioning into the hotel sector and serving at multiple Marriott hotels. Lipschultz joins Orlando World Center Marriott most recently from the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes as the food and beverage director.