William Bierlein, Executive Chef of the Vanderbilt Wing
Born in Pontiac Michigan, Chef Bierlein grew up with 5 other siblings. At the age of 12 his family moved to Las Vegas where his parents opened Sunrise Café to showcase the original chef in the family, his father. At the age of 18, Chef Bierlein began with Steve Wynn during the opening of the Mirage Resort and Hotel Casino, his first opportunity to work in a 5 star resort. From a cook’s helper in 1990 to Executive Chef - Vanderbilt Wing of The Omni Grove Park Inn today, Chef Bierlein has worked diligently over the past 23 years to advance his career. Having worked with many great chefs, Chef Bierlein recalls the moment when he was handpicked by David Kallaway, a Certified Master Chef, and how it was the opportunity for his career to step to the next level. Chef takes his inspiration from a French mentor who always said to him, “You will only be as good as your tastes buds will take you. Try everything.” Chef Bierlein joined the culinary team at The Omni Grove Park Inn as the Chef de Cuisine of Banquets in the fall of 2013, rose to Executive Sous Chef in spring of 2014 and was promoted into his new role as Executive Chef – Vanderbilt Wing in June of 2015.
Richard J. Gras Jr., Executive Chef of the Sammons Wing
Richard J. Gras Jr. is the Executive Chef of the Sammons Wing at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. In this role, Gras Jr. leads and directs all kitchen operations and menu creation for the Sammons Wing restaurants and bars including Sunset Terrace, Sunset Cocktail Terrace, The Great Hall Bar, EDISON Craft Ales + Kitchen, Vue 1913 and the Presidents Lounge.
Gras Jr. joined the resort following his time as Executive Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte property where he oversaw the culinary division, curated locally driven menus and received a five-diamond rating in 2018. He has also worked as the Executive Chef at Florida’s Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Chef de Cuisine at Pier A, The Harbour House in New York City and Executive Chef at OAK Restaurant in Dallas.
Gras Jr. was raised in the Hudson Valley in New York and began his culinary career while studying at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island where he earned his culinary arts degree. After he graduated, Gras Jr. headed to Florida for his first job with the Ritz-Carlton. Through his previous experience working directly with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Thomas Keller and Jordi Valles, Gras Jr. developed a strong appreciation for what food can become, the thoughtfulness behind a dish and how to step out of the box for dishes that go beyond the mainstream.
Gras Jr. has a passion for local flavors and is looking forward to bringing the culinary character of North Carolina to life, keeping the final dish as close to the farm as possible, at The Omni Grove Park Inn.
John Cook, Executive Pastry Chef
In his role as Executive Pastry Chef, John Cook leads a pastry team fashioning sweet, tasty and beautiful creations for The Inn’s 8 restaurants and lounges, as well as in-room dining and banqueting operations.
Cook arrived at the historic Inn from Norman Love Confections in Fort Myers, Fl., where he rose from entry-level cook to production manager of the chocolate factory and ultimately executive pastry chef over a span of 13 years. He also spent a decade teaching chocolate, pastry and baking classes at the company. Previously, Cook was a pastry cook at two Ritz-Carlton Resorts in Naples and West Palm Beach, Fla.
Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, F.L., Cook earned degrees in culinary arts and international baking and pastries from Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach. He graduated from advanced chocolate and sugar courses offered by renowned Pastry Chef Ewald Notter, and studied at the Cocoa-Barry School of Chocolate in Montreal. In addition, Cook was recognized as Pastry Chef of the Year at the U.S. Pastry Competition in 2017.
James Lumley, Chef de Cuisine, Blue Ridge
As Chef de Cuisine at Blue Ridge, James Lumley continues the tradition of developing innovative classic American cuisine using fresh ingredients acquired from local producers throughout Western North Carolina. Originally from Melbourne, Florida, Lumley began his career in hospitality working as a restaurant dishwasher. By the time he completed high school, he had worked his way through every level of restaurant operations. Following graduation from Johnson and Wales University in Miami, he joined The Ritz-Carlton, Naples Golf Resort as a culinary intern in 2002. Moving steadily through the ranks, Lumley became a trainer in the resort's culinary division and supervisor of the 4-star/4-diamond Italian restaurant Lemonia, the Bella Vista Lounge and In-Room Dining. After rising to Sous Chef of Lemonia, Lumley joined Naples Beach Resort becoming Chef at the Poolside Café as well as Food and Safety Trainer. Chef Lumley joined The Omni Grove Park Inn August 2013 as Chef de Cuisine of Vue 1913 and was promoted to Chef de Cuisine of Blue Ridge in September 2016. Additionally, Lumley currently oversees the culinary components of In-Room Dining, the Marketplace, the Club Floor, and the seasonal Pool Cabana.
Brandon Gibson, Chef de Cuisine of Vue 1913
Brandon Gisbon is the Chef de Cuisine of Vue 1913, The Omni Grove Park Inn’s brasserie style restaurant with an abundant wine cellar and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As Chef de Cuisine, Gibson continues Vue 1913’s tradition of crafting dishes with the love of food in mind, that showcase the best local rustic ingredients of each season.
Prior to joining the team at The Omni Grove Park Inn, Gibson was the Head Chef at Firekeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, MI where he worked with local vendors for rotating seasonal menus that highlighted regional fare. Prior to that, Gibson was the Head Chef at Motorcity Casino Hotel in Detroit and the Lead Cook at the Green Valley Ranch Resort-Spa-Casino in Nevada.
In his free time, Gibson enjoys mountain biking and exploring the outdoors.