William Bierlein, Executive Chef of The Omni Grove Park Inn
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 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, was promoted to Executive Chef – Vanderbilt Wing in June of 2015, and is now Executive Chef of the entire Resort.
Chris Heath, Executive Chef
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Florida, Chris was a model student and voted president of the college senate. At the same time, he began working as a sous chef at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant, where he assisted with menu planning and daily specials, maintained multiple stations, and gained hands-on business experience that would later prove invaluable in his professional career.
In 2009, Heath was named the Executive Chef of the Tampa Bay Brewing Co., featured on Food Network’s reality television series Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. He oversaw and developed a staff of 22 employees, created daily and weekly features utilizing the hand-crafted beers, ciders and spent grains as well as managed all kitchen and food operations. After moving to Georgia, he accepted a position as Chef de Cuisine for Gaby’s by the Lake at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, a luxury resort with 251 rooms and 1,000 guests daily. There, he designed and developed innovative menus every week and mentored a team of 15 professionals.
After two years in that role he transitioned to the Chef de Cuisine of Linger Longer Steakhouse where he maintained a top ranking for Ritz Carlton restaurants then taking over the culinary banquet operations for the property also maintaining the highest of food quality scores. Most recently, Chris was the Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami.
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, F.L.
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.
Chris Blackwell, Chef de Cuisine, Blue Ridge
Chef Chris was born and raised in Texas where he got his passion for food at a young age by tagging along with his grandfather who competed in BBQ tournaments, before getting his first job in hospitality at age 16 as a bus boy. While earning his B.B.A. from the University of Texas he worked in several casual and upscale restaurants as a line cook further cementing his love for cooking. Upon graduation he moved to Denver where he attended a culinary program at Johnson and Wales University while continuing to gain experience working in local restaurants.
Chef Chris’s first experience in hotels was completing his culinary internship and the Warwick Denver Hotel where he was hired as a sous chef shortly upon completion. Before relocating to Asheville Chef Chris spent time working in several hotels including as the Executive Chef at the Marquette Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton in Minneapolis and as the Executive Banquet Chef at the Adolphus Hotel, Autograph Collection by Marriot.
Patrick Cullum, Chef de Cuisine of Vue 1913
Prior to joining The Omni Grove Park Inn team, Patrick Cullum cooked in different restaurants in North Carolina, including Boone, Charlotte and Gastonia. Most recently, Cullum was the lead line cook at Webb Custom Kitchen in Gastonia, NC, until joining the Vue 1913 team in 2017. In 2019, Cullum was vital in planning Vue 1913’s French Wine Dinner, featuring wines from Rosenthal Wine Merchant.
Outside of work Cullum enjoys listening to live music, practicing film photography, and playing and watching sports.