NEIL SMITH, CHEF PARTNER
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar – Rancho Cucamonga
Originally from Florida, Chef Neil fell in love with cooking at a young age, and he realized while working in the kitchen that this was what he looked forward to every day. And so his career in the kitchen began. He joined Fleming’s in Scottsdale, Arizona as a pastry chef, working his way towards the role of Chef Partner which he eventually became when he opened the Rancho Cucamonga Fleming’s - his now home.
Chef Neil has enjoyed his journey with Fleming’s and is thrilled about the opportunities for creativity that Fleming’s new Chef’s Table menu gives him. The Chef’s Table is a new concept for the brand that allows every local Chef to craft a menu of their own, as they please. Everyone, from guests to servers and members of the kitchen team, are encouraged to contribute their input and ideas to Chef Neil’s table. Alongside the input of his team, Chef Neil always seeks to incorporate fresh vegetables, local flavors, and cutting-edge innovation into his creations. His motivation is to peak the curiosity of his guests, inspiring them to ask what could be on his Chef’s Table next - and to return in order to find out for themselves.
JASON BARRADAS, EXECUTIVE CHEF
Falkner Winery, Pinnacle Restaurant – Temecula
Jason Barradas, former Sous Chef, was promoted to Executive Chef of the Pinnacle Restaurant at Falkner Winery. Jason had been Sous Chef at the Pinnacle since 2014 and worked there previously between 2008-2012. Before that, he was Chef de Prate at the five star Amaya Restaurant part of the Grand Del Mar Resort between 2012-2014. He was trained at the California Culinary Academy “Le Cordon Blue” in San Francisco. Says Loretta Falkner, co-owner, “Jason is a great Chef with a flair for imaginative ideas for food items. We look forward to his great ideas on some new menu items”. The Pinnacle offers great panoramic views, outstanding Mediterranean style food, and high quality service for lunches 7 days a week. Set on a 1,500 foot hilltop, The Pinnacle offers customers great Temecula Wine Country views whether seated in the air conditioned indoors or on the open-air outdoor balcony. The restaurant also serves as an evening wedding and banquet venue.
Falkner Winery is a premier winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country offering great food, high quality wines, spectacular views, and spectacular service. Since opening in July 2000, the winery has gained distinction in Wine Country for its high quality wines, great food at their “Best Restaurant in Inland Empire” award winning Pinnacle Restaurant, wine tasting classes, VIP Group Tours and Tastings, and private venues such as parties and weddings. The tasting room is open daily from 10am to 5pm with tours available on weekends and by appointment. The restaurant serves lunch daily from 11:30am to 3:30pm daily.
HENRY GONZALEZ, EXECUTIVE CHEF / OWNER
Spaggi’s – Upland
At a young age, Henry knew he wanted to cook. His father worked in a restaurant a chef and Henry’s older brother worked with his father.
One day, his brother skipped worked to play at the beach. The young Henry used this opportunity to sneak into the kitchen his father worked in, and set to work. No one realized the younger son was working in the kitchen until the lunch rush died down. Henry loved cooking so much; his parents used that to ensure good grades. If he didn’t make good grades, he would not be allowed to cook.
Eventually, he worked at Rosa’s in Baldwin Park. Henry quickly became head chef. He attended the L.A. Culinary Institute (which became the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena). His tutelage was under chef Raymond Hofmeister. Later, he worked at Rosa’s in Ontario. Now , Executive Chef and Owner Henry Gonzalez runs Spaggi’s with his wife. He has a team of seven chefs.
ROSIE O’CONNOR, CHEF / OWNER
Provecho Grill & Xicana
Chef Rosie, award winning chef and restaurateur, was born in San Francisco and was raised in most of the barrios like La Brea, Cudahy, Huntington park in Southern California. Her heritage is from El Salvador, Peru, Japan, and her heart is Mexican with Spanish roots. She is a Latin fusion at its best! “I feel my cultural diversity feeds my curiosity when I’m traveling and indulging in other countries.” Said Rosie.
Her crazy competitive edge landed her in the So Cal Chef’s Open in 2015. This spectacular event features chefs from the most prominent local wineries, casinos and restaurants who come together to compete in creating their most delicious masterpiece. For the first time in SoCal Chef Open history, one chef was decorated with both awards. The judging chefs and over 600 in attendance honored Chef Rosie with the Pinnacle Award and People’s Choice Award.
Rosie O’Connor is the chef owner of Provecho Grill in Menifee and Xicana (coming soon). She is a Food Writer for Menifee Buzz and Valley News. She is also the winner of Farmer’s Market Flip, Season One, Episode One.
Chef Rosie offers cooking classes, cocktail mixology lessons and private dinners that celebrate foods from every region of Mexico.