Didier Lenders, Resort Chef
The 1980's brought Didier to California where he quickly ascended to the Executive Chef position at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Moving north to the Bay Area Didier became an instructor at the California Culinary Academy and held chef positions at the world renowned Ernie's Restaurant in San Francisco, a city he came to love and also, where he fell in love with his wife Pilar Sanchez, also a chef. The newlywed couple soon moved back to Paris to run his family's restaurant to much critical acclaim. By the mid 1990's they slowly made their way back to California, making a stop in the Caribbean, where Didier held the chef position at the very exclusive La Samanna Resort on the island of St. Martaan. The Napa Valley was the next stop. Didier held the Executive Chef post at the picture perfect Meadowood Resort for 9 years. Then the culinary duo of Didier and Pilar opened their own restaurant again, this time in downtown Napa, receiving a great deal of attention and praise from food critics and foodies alike.
Now living in Santa Barbara, close to family, the past six years at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa has been "home" to Didier's considerable talents and passion for fine cuisine, team leadership and guest service.
John Lacroix, Executive Pastry Chef
John has worked in several respected kitchens over his 24 year career. Beginning at The Pierre Hotel in New York as Assistant Pastry Chef, he ultimately accepted the position as Assistant Executive Pastry Chef at The Plaza Hotel in New York, where he worked for 12 years refining his artistries. After many years in New York he moved on to the Beau Rivage MGM Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, and then onto to Kansas City before heading out West to sunny California and joining the team at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.
When not whipping up confections in the pastry kitchen at the Inn, John enjoys participating in cooking competitions and shows. He is a winner of six gold medals, two silver medals, and 1 bronze medal as a completing member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
Jaison Burke, Chef de Cuisine
Jaison Burke, a native of Long Island, New York, arrived in Ojai from San Diego where he worked as the Executive Chef of the Pearl Hotel. His combination of talent and creativity landed him first at the Omni Hotel San Diego, and then The Pearl Hotel, which just four years earlier, helped usher in a culinary renaissance in the San Diego's historic Point Loma neighborhood.
Burke's style thrives on the easy availability of Southern California's amazing local and seasonal ingredients, as well as the "farm-to-table" ethos he adopted early in his career. Through his close relationship with local farms and fisheries, he is committed to product integrity, and importantly, his guests can expect well-executed, soulful cooking on their plates. He aims to please through honest and vibrant culinary expression that promises a uniquely urbane and accessible experience for all guests.
Burke's exposure to the kitchen and other food environs came early in life. At fourteen, he often helped his mother at a restaurant where she was F&B Director, which brought the excitement of cooking nearby and further stoked his inner flame for culinary adventure. With a career in mind, he attended the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. After graduation, he moved away and polished his skills at numerous restaurants, eventually becoming chef/owner of The Upstairs, a fine dining steakhouse in Charlottesville that he sold in early 2010.
Jaison joins the resort as the Chef de Cuisine of The Oak.
William Fravel, Chef de Cuisine Maravilla
In his free time, William enjoys going to the beach with friends to surf and and spending time with his three-year-old son and family.
Bobby Angelito, Executive Banquet Chef
The majority of Bobby's professional career has been at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa as the Executive Banquet Chef.
In his time at home he likes to be with his family and two grandsons as well as tending to his extensive rose and vegetable gardens.
David Arambula, Assistant Executive Banquet Chef
In his free time, David loves spending time with his wife and two sons, ages 13 and 18.