New F&B leaders appointed across the U.S.

Companies, hotels and resorts in cities across the country have named new leaders for their food and beverage operations in the past few weeks.

Pyramid Global Hospitality

Pyramid Global Hospitality has named James Messinger as corporate director of culinary. Prior to joining Pyramid Global Hospitality, Messinger served as corporate chef for The Kraft Heinz Company where he led all aspects of research and development for the organization’s top strategic accounts. He also held key culinary leadership roles with the Darden Restaurant Group, The Walt Disney Company plus owning/operating his own concepts.

In his new position, Messinger will focus on creating opportunities for operating efficiency while sustaining high levels of culinary quality across Pyramid Global Hospitality’s diverse portfolio, ranging from independent luxury and lifestyle hotels to branded full-service and select-service properties. He will spearhead waste management programs, cultivate strategic partnerships with food manufacturers and distributors and enhance Pyramid Global Hospitality’s food and beverage concept development program, Purple Mynt—a one-stop shop for project stakeholders looking to craft creative F&B concepts from the ground up. Messinger will also play an active role in growing Pyramid Global Hospitality through various efforts, to include asset evaluation, ownership collaboration and talent acquisition.

Staypineapple Hotels

Staypineapple added Cameron Kronemeyer to the organization’s food and beverage operations team. In his new role, Kronemeyer will oversee the operations at all four of the company’s restaurants, as well as the food and beverage services and offerings throughout Staypineapple’s 10 hotels.

Cameron has more than 20 years of food-service leadership experience. In his most recent role, he was an operational leader for Mark Ryan Winery as the director of retail operations, a position he held for over two years. Prior to his time with Mark Ryan Winery, Kronemeyer held numerous regional district manager leadership positions within the QSR industry for companies such as MOD Pizza, Potbelly Sandwich Works and Jamba Juice.

Cabot Collection

Esther Ha and Steven Dougherty have joined the Cabot Collection as executive chef and director of food and beverage, respectively. The pair will be based at Cabot’s first U.S. development, Cabot Citrus Farms in central west Florida, with global responsibilities for all destinations in the portfolio, including the Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Cabot Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, Cabot Revelstoke in British Columbia, and the most recently added Cabot Highlands in Scotland.

Ha brings years of experience working in restaurants across the globe, including Café Boulud in New York City, Restaurant Den in Tokyo and Restaurant Ester in Sydney. Most recently, she served as executive chef at Momofuku Ko. As executive chef at Cabot, Ha will create food and beverage dining concepts and oversee menus for all Cabot properties. Her responsibilities also include building the food sourcing strategy, hiring and training culinary staff and working with each property to ensure the strategic vision of Cabot is executed to the highest standards. 

Dougherty joins Cabot as the director of food and beverage with more than 10 years of hospitality experience, most recently at Room 11 Hospitality Group as corporate general manager and wine director for Box House Events and MADRE, which earned a Michelin Plate Award just one year after opening. He spent his early career at Hermann J Wiemer Vineyard and later served as an assistant winemaker at Cornell University. Dougherty will execute food and beverage concepts, build menus and ensure exceptional hospitality, service and dining experiences.

Davenport Hotel Collection 

The Davenport Hotel Collection in Spokane, Wash., has appointed two new chef de cuisines to help oversee the culinary program. Rory Allen is appointed chef de cuisine for the Davenport Grand Hotel restaurants and Eric Nelson is appointed chef de cuisine for the Davenport Historic Hotel restaurants.

Allen joined the Davenport Hotel Collection as a sous chef in 2022 working under Chef Eric Nelson. He has more than 15 years of executive chef experience with some of Washington’s and Spokane’s top kitchens including The Wandering Table, Durkin’s, and Remedy and Scratch.

Nelson joined The Davenport Hotel Collection as a sous chef in May 2017 before being promoted to executive chef a year later. Prior to joining the team, Nelson spent several years as the executive chef at the Italian Kitchen in Spokane. 

Eagle Mountain House & Golf Club

The Eagle Mountain House & Golf Club, Jackson, N.H., appoints Scott Losier as food and beverage manager. In his new position, Losier will lead the food and beverage service staff, while overseeing menu development, customer service, employee training, and food and safety regulation at the Eagle Landing Tavern. Losier will also have a hand in managing culinary requests during special events hosted in the historic hotel’s 5,000 square feet of meeting space, including the newly renovated Carriage House.

Losier has more than 30 years of hospitality business experience, joining the Eagle Mountain House team from Omni Mount Washington Resort, where he served as restaurant manager. His culinary experience also includes time as food and beverage manager at White Mountain Hotel & Resort and dining room manager at Town & Country Inn and Resort.

The Gwen 

The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Chicago, promotes Jason Sundberg as director of bars and restaurants. Sundberg will execute the hotel’s mission of delivering unparalleled guest experiences in the food and beverage space. For the past two years, Sundberg has been an integral part of the team at The Gwen, joining in May of 2021 as Kostali’s service manager, and was quickly promoted to restaurant manager. 

Sundberg has been working in hospitality for 16 years. He grew up outside of Boston, working in a number of upscale restaurants in the area before moving to Chicago. Upon relocating to the Midwest in 2013, Sundberg joined the team at Trattoria Gianni in Lincoln Park while exploring a career in real estate. It was during this time he climbed the ranks to general manager at the 2 Michelin-starred Acadia.

Hotel Bennet

Hotel Bennett appoints Alex Hernandez as the hotel’s new director of food and beverage. Hernandez brings 20 years of experience to Hotel Bennett, having held numerous leadership roles at hotels and restaurants such as Michelin-starred Cavallo Point Lodge in San Francisco and Bottega Restaurant in Napa, earning it the prestigious Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator. Prior to that role, Hernandez spent 10 years leading the food and beverage operations at Meadowood Napa Valley resort, where he helped the property achieve its Forbes Travel Guide triple Five-Star rating. Following his success at Meadowood, Hernandez was the director of food and beverage at Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Later, he joined the Four Seasons’ new property in Nashville as director of food and beverage where he played a crucial role in planning, developing, and executing all food and beverage operations.

Hernandez is a certified sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers. He graduated from the Universidad Latina with a degree in International Economics.

Hotel Wailea

Hotel Wailea, Hawaii’s only Relais and Châteaux property, appoints Ryan Cruz to the position of executive chef. The new title is a promotion for Cruz, who previously held the position of Hotel Wailea’s chef de cuisine since January 2023. As executive chef, Cruz will oversee culinary operations at the signature Restaurant at Hotel Wailea, The Birdcage Bar and poolside at Hotel Wailea’s cabanas.
Born in the Philippines and adopted at the age of three, Cruz’s love for cooking began as a child growing up in Southern California, where he assisted his father and grandmother in cooking for family gatherings. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, he joined CUT by Wolfgang Puck in Beverly Hills where he spent four years, starting as a prep cook and working his way up to lead line cook. Cruz spent the next 10 years honing his culinary skills in fine-dining establishments across the globe, spanning Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, CUT at 45 Park Lane in London, CUT New York City and Spago in both Istanbul and Maui. He later transitioned to working as a private chef under his mentor Raymond Weber, bringing bespoke dinners and events to celebrity clients such as Oprah Winfrey. 

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino

The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe (Nev.) Resort, Spa and Casino appointed Lucas Curcio as the new director of food and beverage. Curcio joins the property from Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour where he held the title of executive chef. Originally from Argentina, Curcio’s journey in the hospitality industry began 20 years ago where he started as a dishwasher and delivery person. 

Joining the Hyatt Corporation in 2018, Curcio’s initial role was as the pre-opening executive chef for Park Hyatt Jakarta in Indonesia. Curcio and his team positioned Stone Barn at Park Hyatt St. Kitts as the Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the Caribbean by the World Culinary Awards.

Kimpton Taconic Hotel

The Kimpton Taconic Hotel, Manchester, Vt., appointed Nicolas Houlbert as executive chef for the hotel’s Copper Grouse Restaurant & Bar. In this role, Houlbert will create and implement seasonal restaurant menus favoring local farmers and growers while also overseeing the hotel’s food and beverage programming for social and corporate events and weddings. 

During his career, Houlbert, who hails from France, helped two Parisian restaurants—Maison Mavrommatis and Ze Kitchen Galerie—obtain their Michelin stars. Upon arriving in the United States in 2015, he settled in New York City to work with chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud in two of his restaurants, Bar Boulud and Epicerie Boulud. Working aside Boulud and taking the helm as executive chef, Houlbert used his French training. Most recently, Houlbert served as an executive chef consultant for several restaurants in New Jersey and New York including La Rocca Osteria, Faubourg and Bluebird London NYC.

Pendry Hotels & Resorts

Pendry Hotels & Resorts appointed Benjamin Martinek as culinary director of Pendry Newport Beach (Calif.) and the flagship private members club, The Elwood Club. Pendry Newport Beach is home to four dining destinations. 

Martinek joins Pendry Newport Beach and The Elwood Club from within the Montage Hotels & Resorts family, having previously served as chef de cuisine for Montage Laguna Beach’s fine dining restaurant, Studio, before being elevated to executive sous chef. He brings more than 13 years of experience and will oversee creative culinary direction and programming across the resort’s food and beverage offerings and The Elwood Club’s restaurants.

Tanque Verde Ranch

The Tanque Verde Ranch, a dude ranch owned by Cote Family Destinations in Tucson, Ariz., appoints McKenzie O’Leary as executive chef. A 15-year veteran of the culinary industry and a 16-year Tucson resident, O’Leary joins Tanque Verde Ranch from Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa where she served as chef de cuisine. At Miraval, O’Leary learned extensively about the intentionality behind food, including its nutritional value to the body and the benefits of anti-inflammatory, plant based and gluten free diets. Prior to Miraval, Chef O’Leary has held various roles in the Tucson culinary scene.

In her new role, Chef O’Leary will shape the culinary experience at Tanque Verde Ranch by using Sonoran cooking traditions in the kitchen, introducing personalized culinary programming for guests and creating new banquet menus. She is committed to evolving Tanque Verde Ranch’s approach to cooking by using more local and heritage ingredients like beans and authentic grains from the Sonoran Desert.

Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk 

Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk appointed David Arciniega as executive chef. A native of San Antonio, Arciniega has been a member of the hotel’s culinary team since he joined as executive sous chef in 2022; he is responsible for the concept design and execution of all private events. In his new role, Arciniega will oversee the hotel’s culinary program, from weddings and events to its signature dining venues, The Moon’s Daughters and Cenote Pool Deck.

Prior to joining Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk, Arciniega served as taskforce chef at Hyatt’s Hana Maui Resort, where he managed the three-meal restaurant. Previously, he was the executive chef at Texas State University, planning banquet menus and overseeing private events, and also held the role of manager and sommelier at Maverick Texas Brasserie. Arciniega’s appointment as a sous chef at Oloroso in San Antonio led him to pursue a Level 1 sommelier certificate from The Court of Master Sommeliers.