5Fifty5

New Orleans Marriott

555 Canal Street · New Orleans, Louisiana 70130 USA

5Fifty5

Chef & Staff Profiles

Thorsten Leighty

Executive Chef

Thorsten Leighty was born to be the Executive Chef of the New Orleans Marriott. Throughout his childhood, Chef Leighty was the self-appointed head of organizing family barbecues and in charge of preparation for large family meals and gatherings in his native Wiesbaden, Germany. So it comes as no surprise that today he finds himself at the helm of an award-winning culinary team of 100 for a 1,350-room convention hotel in the French Quarter, which, at times, serves more than 2500 meals per day.

Beginning with culinary apprenticeships, Leighty spent the first 10 years of his career gaining experience in various roles at Michelin-starred restaurants abroad. He then came to the United States at the age of 25 to work as a sous chef under German Master Chef Joachim Splichal at the highly acclaimed Los Angeles restaurant, Patina.

"I had a solid culinary foundation to fall back on, and, basically, nothing to lose," remembers Chef Leighty. His gamble paid off as he soon became Executive Sous Chef at LA's Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, where he was responsible for all aspects of the culinary operations — including catering Hollywood's elite at the Academy Awards as well as parties for A-listers like Tom Hanks and President Bill Clinton.

Now in New Orleans, Chef Leighty brings his style of cuisine to a city known for food and believes his take on light, seasonal, top quality local ingredients simply prepared and executed well will be a welcome addition to this city's incredible culinary scene. His newly redesigned catering and restaurant menus focus on healthy cooking techniques and utilizing the best seasonal product available.

Neil O’Connor

Chef

Currently, Neil O’Connor can be found at the newly, renovated New Orleans Marriott where he holds the position of Senior Sous Chef, directly overseeing all the restaurant outlets.

Neil began his career with Marriott at the Overland Park Marriott in Kansas as a chef’s apprentice. He worked as a cook, continuously learning and honing his skills. After that, he moved to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona as a Culinary Supervisor. After four, educational years in the desert, he was promoted to Sous Chef of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Neil then moved to the Houston Airport Marriott before settling in at the New Orleans Marriott.

Neil’s journey around the US has helped him develop his craft as a chef. Neil incorporates his menu development from the many diverse regions he’s resided in. Neil gains his motivation and passion for food by incorporating locally-grown, sustainable, and seasonal foods whenever possible.

Chef Neil now calls New Orleans home with his beautiful wife, Kristal. Neil enjoys challenging himself as an endurance athlete and competes in multiple Ironman triathlons and marathons yearly around the country.

Spiros Dimitriou

Chef

Spiros Dimitriou joined the New Orleans Marriott in January 2014 as Specialty Restaurant Chef.

Spiros has earned a solid reputation in the field of Fine Dining Cuisine throughout many countries abroad. After multiple culinary awards, he became an international culinary judge. Spiros hosted cooking shows on television, and his recipes are published in several cook books and magazines.

Besides bringing an impressive record of accomplishments in the international “world of culinary”, Spiros has also brought some of the best recipes for flat bread brick oven pizza we have ever tasted!

Spiros brings a tremendous amount of knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm to the culinary team of the New Orleans Marriott.

Spiros loves to spend his spare time with his beautiful family, and catching big fish.