EXECUTIVE CHEF DONALD CHALKO
Chef Donald Chalko started his career at the prestigious Mansion on Turtle Creek with Chef Dean Fearing at the helm. He quickly worked his way up and moved on to the French Room at The Adolphus Hotel under Chef Jason Weaver. From there, he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, and helped open the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas with Chef Jason Weaver. Here, he held the position of Banquet Chef and helped them become a Five Diamond hotel. Chef Chalko returned to Dallas as Executive Sous Chef at the Omni Dallas Hotel.
Chef Donald graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts and Visual Arts. He is married to Darby Chalko and has a daughter, Greer Ryan.
CHEF DE CUISINE JAN LOOV
Chef Jan Loov joins us from Sweden, where he attended the Troisiemme Anne’ Culinary School in Linkoping, Sweden. Previously, he lived and worked in Frankfurt at the prestigious five-star Frankfurter Hof Hotel. He then traveled to New Zealand and Australia, and while in Sydney, worked at the Gekko Restaurant at the Sheraton Park Hotel. For two years he trained under the tutelage of Chef David Bitton.
Chef Loov’s travels then brought him to Boston, Mass., where his true passion for sustainable seafood was brought to life while working at Turner Fisheries at the Westin Copley Place. From there, he moved to Dallas and worked at a few smaller venues until the opportunity to work at the Omni Dallas Hotel arose. He assumed the role of Chef d’ Cuisine of Texas Spice in July of 2014. Working in Texas Spice has given him the opportunity to work and share with fellow chefs and culinary experts. This drives him to use the freshest, most sustainable products available to him, all the while thoroughly enjoying life to its fullest.
EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF EDDIE SPRINGFIELD
Eddie Springfield is no stranger to the Omni Hotels & Resorts family as his career has moved him to several locations throughout the country. He began his career with Omni Hotels & Resorts at the Omni ChampionsGate Hotel in 2006 as Chef di Cuisine. Chef Springfield later became the Executive Banquet Chef at Omni Fort Worth Hotel in 2011, moved to Omni Richmond Hotel to serve as the Executive Chef and finally landed at Omni Dallas Hotel as the Executive Sous Chef in 2016.
Chef Springfield attended the Culinary Arts Institute where he gained his passion for training new, up and coming chefs. Because of his esteemed expertise, Springfield frequently takes on the role of developing culinary teams at new property openings within the company. Other than his time with Omni Hotels & Resorts, Springfield has served as the Head Chef of Ristorante Tuscany, Chef di Cuisine of Solaris Restaurant Caribbean Cuisine and worked with Marriott for 11 years as the Head Chef of Hawks Landing Steak House. In his time away from the kitchen, he enjoys traveling with his wife, Lilliam, and their seven-year-old daughter, Bella.
CHEF DE CUISINE ALEX AYALA
Chef Alexander Ayala’s culinary career was greatly influenced by his parents at an early age. Eager to learn the foundations of the culinary world, he started his career at The W Hotel, Dallas. He earned his stripes in the kitchen working along side great food enthusiasts, which prepared him for the next step. Chef Ayala is regularly inspired by his Latin culture and found the opportunity to bring it to life by opening his own establishment. Chef Ayala, wanting to expand his knowledge of the food industry, then found his way to the Omni Dallas Hotel. He quickly excelled from an entry level cook to a Sous Chef in The Owners Box, where he is now the Chef d' Cuisine. Under his guidance, The Owners Box was voted #1 Sports bar in 2014 by The Observer, and D Magazine.
BANQUET CHEF DIMITRIOS VAGENAS
Dimitrios Vagenas was born in Greece but elatedly accepted the opportunity to come to Texas in 2014. At a young age in 1999, he started working in his family business for 10 years before moving to the kitchen where he gained his culinary passion. He studied culinary art for two years at Chef D'Oeuvre Culinary School in Greece, where he was distinguished as the top student and won a scholarship to continue his studies in food and beverage management.
He made his first professional steps at Cape Sounio Grand Resort and other notable hotels in Greece. Vagenas combined his passion for cooking and traveling by exploring local tastes in Italy, England and France. In 2013, Chef Vagenas worked as Sous Chef at Viking River Cruises in Southern France before we were lucky enough to gain him as a Kitchen Supervisor in 2014. He quickly rose to become our Banquet Chef just a short year and a half later in 2015. Besides coordinating all banquet meals and ensuring each plate meets his standards, Vagenas enjoys cooking for his friends and traveling the world exploring different local cuisines.
PASTRY CHEF KRISTINA KENT
Kristina graduated with honors from The Culinary School at The Art Institute with an associate’s degree in baking and pastry. Kristina was a pastry cook for Legends Hospitality at Cowboys Stadium during the 2010-2011 football season, and helped prepare over 90,000 pastries for Super Bowl XLV. Upon graduating from culinary school, Kristina took a position as an assistant at Chocolate Secrets in Dallas. After three months, Kristina was promoted to Pastry Sous Chef where she was responsible for production of the signature bonbon collection, as well as creation of new flavors and teaching chocolate and wine classes. Kristina’s work on chocolate and bonbons were featured on the cover of D Magazine.
Kristina left Chocolate Secrets in November of 2012 to take a position as pastry cook at Texas Spice restaurant in Omni Dallas Hotel where she was responsible for production of all pastries and desserts. Kristina was promoted to Pastry Sous Chef of Omni Dallas Hotel in June 2012.