Marie ZhangMarie Zhang has been named chief food innovation officer of Long John Silver’s, responsible for menu innovation, new product development, commercialization, food safety, product quality and supply chain management for the quick-service chain’s more than 1,300 units.

Zhang has spent the past eight years at Atlanta-based HoneyBaked Ham, overseeing all aspects of the supply chain.

She holds a dual master’s degree in food science and chemistry from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Jason GronlundJason Gronlund has been named vice president of culinary at Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill.

In his new position, Gronlund is responsible for menu development, kitchen operations enhancements, culinary training and food safety for the 66-unit casual-dining chain based in Orlando, Fla.

Most recently, he headed up food and beverage operations for Hard Rock Café International. Before that, he was senior director of culinary at Carla’s Pasta Company.


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Andrew Brochu is the new chef at The Aviary, the Chicago cocktail bar owned by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, where he has been charged with expanding the venue’s culinary offerings.

A three-year veteran of Achatz’s and Kokonas’s flagship, Alinea, Brochu has been working at several other Chicago restaurants over the past five years, including the Champagne bar Pops for Champagne, Kith & Kin, El Ideas, Graham Elliot and, most recently, The Monarch.

Michael KramerMichael Kramer is the new executive chef of culinary operations for Table 301 Restaurant Group in Greenville, S.C., which operates Soby’s, Devereaux’s, The Lazy Goat, Nose Dive, Soby’s on the Side, and Table 301 Catering, as well as Passerelle Bistro, which is currently under construction.

Most recently in charge of corporate dining for Chevron in Houston for the Compass Group, the Los Angeles native graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He has worked in the kitchens of McCrady’s in Charleston, S.C., Voice in Houston, Spago in Los Angeles and the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas.

Andy McWilliamsAndy McWilliams is the new executive chef at The Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth, R.I. Most recently the sous chef at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, R.I., where he worked for five years, McWilliams studied marine biology at Edison College in Naples, Fla., before studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

In his new position he is making use of Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a collaborative of about 30 farms that lets him see easily what ingredients are available. “Bringing extremely fresh, organic food to our members and guests is what I’m about,” he said.

Benjamin CastroBenjamin Castro is the new executive chef at The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell, Ga. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., he most recently was chef de cuisine at Bistro VG in Roswell, Ga.

Douglas Paine is the new chef de cuisine at the newly opened Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vt. A native of the state, Paine most recently was the chef at Amuse at The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa in Essex Junction, Vt., where he oversaw the creation of the Douglas Painenightly tasting menu.

In his new position, Paine will oversee all banquet operations, as well as Juniper, the property’s restaurant, which serves breakfast, small-producer coffee, wine and beer, afternoon tea, a light dinner menu, and farm-inspired cocktails made using spirits distilled in Vermont.

Kernnardo HolderKennardo Holder is the new executive sous chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, in White Plains, N.Y. Most recently, he held the same position at The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colo.

A native of Montego Bay, Jamaica, Holder has worked with Ritz-Carlton Hotels since he started his career at The Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall Golf & Spa in his hometown as chef de partie in 2000.

Ruben GarciaRuben Garcia, former executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, is the new executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Denver.

A native of El Paso, Texas, Garcia attended culinary school in Louisiana and began his career in New Orleans, cooking at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen and Galatoire’s Restaurant before starting his career with Ritz-Carlton in 2000.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary