Executive Chef Brian Whitmer
Hailing from the kitchen at the Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa, Executive Chef Brian Whitmer has an impressive culinary background that started in Kansas City and found him developing his trademark skills and techniques in a wide variety of kitchens, from New York City to Carmel, California. Chef Whitmer showcases his Kansas City roots with the culinary finesse and expertise that has won him national accolades. The widely renowned Napa Valley chef incorporates local and seasonal ingredients to create simple, delicious dishes that blend his passion for gardening with his highly celebrated gourmet restaurant experiences.
Whitmer began his career under Chef Bradley Ogden at Kansas City's famed American Restaurant before moving northeast to New York's Tavern on the Green, Montrachet, and The Polo Club, where he worked with culinary genius Daniel Boulud. In fact, Whitmer's stint at Montrachet earned the restaurant a three-star rating from the New York Times.
After his success in New York, Whitmer hit the Bay Area food scene in 1989, where he again teamed up with Chef Bradley Ogden in opening San Francisco's Campton Place Hotel. Next, Whitmer went on to spend six years as Executive Chef at the Highland Inn in beautiful Carmel, where he oversaw culinary operations for the prestigious Masters of Food & Wine. After Carmel, Whitmer demonstrated his superior culinary expertise at Montrio in Monterey, which resulted in a nod for "Best Restaurant of the Year" by Esquire food aficionado John Mariani.
Richard "Joey" Ray's passion for food began at his grandmother's table in his hometown of Erin, Tennessee. He spent his childhood summers exploring the two-acre garden she worked by hand; digging under rocks for Crayfish and sampling the nectar of the honeysuckle from the vines.
Ray attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and went to work at various restaurants in Tennessee, including the highly regarded French venue, The Wild Boar. A small family-owned restaurant in Erin, The Southernaire, holds the place as most influential in his early career. Reminiscent of his grandmother's home cooking, The Southernaire featured soulful southern fare sourced from local gardens; examples include turnip greens and okra from Leroy's garden, and fresh catfish from the nearby Danville River.
Most recently, BarBersQ (Napa, California) inspired him to reclaim his roots and embrace the American Heritage Fare that was such an important part of his years growing up in Tennessee. Initially a Sous Chef when the restaurant opened in 2007, Ray was named Chef de Cuisine in early 2010. The award-winning restaurant (Sunset Magazine, Best Barbecue in the West, 2009), showcased Ray's talents in the culinary realm.
In the spring of 2013, Ray joined the culinary team at The Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa as Chef de Cuisine. Ray's passion and integrity involving food is integral to the overall concept of VINeleven and extensive banquet and social catering program. His devotion to sharing his culinary knowledge extends into the "classroom" in the form of educational cooking demos and classes.
VINeleven, the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa's signature restaurant and bar, offers locals and hotel guests a comfortably elegant ambiance with indoor/outdoor seating and a dynamic, seasonal menu that embodies great dining in Napa.