Director of Restaurants, Newport Restaurant Group
A student of different cultures, Chef Hart enjoys an international view of cooking and readily embraces different approaches and flavors. A former Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef from The Estate by the Elderberries in Oakhurst, California, Karsten is one of only 20 chefs in the United States with the ‘Grand Chef’ designation. Inspired at an early age by his mother’s cooking, Karsten grew up in Louisiana in a melting pot of cultural influences, with German and Italian parents who loved to cook. Karsten’s first cooking jobs were in small, Cajun-style and Italian restaurants, but he learned the most working in a Chinese eatery on the wok station. He is a strong proponent of cooking with ingredients unique to the area and combing classic technique with original ideas.
Favorite recipe? My Grandmother’s tiramisu.
Trustiest tool? A 14-year-old butchering scimitar.
Beverage Director, Newport Restaurant Group
Shawn stocks each restaurant's bar with only those beers, wines, and cocktails that best complement the menu and concept. He sources his spirits from local brewers, vineyards and distillers whenever possible and changes them seasonally to help create a genuine guest experience that cannot be enjoyed elsewhere. Shawn also introduced and leads an extensive educational and training program for employees who want to be certified as wine experts.
NRG restaurants I’ve worked in:
General Manager at the Mooring, opening teams at the Boat House and 22 Bowen’s, line cook and restaurant manager at Castle Hill
Trustiest tool? 13oz. Standard white wine glass used at the Mooring, Waterman and Trio. I recently did an educational series with the staff where we tasted wine, beer and spirits out of them and everything tastes better out of a sheer rim, crystal stem glass.
Favorite recipe? Affogato: a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso over it.
Executive Pastry Chef, Newport Restaurant Group
While his name might be familiar to many as the Fan Favorite from Season 2 of Top Chef’s Just Desserts, it’s Matthew’s pastries that have garnered accolades at an eclectic mix of top restaurants: Morimoto in Philadelphia, DB Bistro in New York, and most recently at CityZen and Sou’Wester in DC’s Mandarin Oriental.
From his beginnings in the Castle Hill Inn kitchen under Chef Casey Riley, Matthew comes full circle to elevate the end of every guest’s experience with artfully crafted and deliciously satisfying desserts.
What was the inspiration for the new desserts in each restaurant? Each location has its strengths. The ability for each team to execute dishes consistently was a big one for me. I had to know that I was giving them the ability to be successful. The chefs collectively are doing an amazing job owning the desserts and really caring for the preparation and guests' experience.
Executive Chef, Castle Hill Inn
Growing up in a predominately Italian household, Executive Chef Lou Rossi learned at an early age to appreciate food as a centerpiece of daily life. Lou began his culinary career at eight years old standing on milk crates, peeling carrots and onions at his parent's restaurant. Coming from two generations of restaurateurs, Lou had no doubts about his future when he applied to the New England Culinary Institute.
During his schooling, Lou worked as a culinary intern at Castle Hill. After graduating with his degree in Culinary Arts, Lou moved to Manhattan to work at Thomas Keller's 3 Michelin Star restaurant, Per Se. Although it was an incredible and humbling experience, Lou missed his time in Newport and he eventually returned to Castle Hill in 2009 to work with Chef Hart where he plays an integral part of the property's culinary ethos, and can usually be found in Castle Hill's own gardens, gathering items for that evening's meal.
Executive Chef, Hemenway's
Fall River, Massachusetts native Max Peterson has cooked from coast to coast in the kitchens of Flemings, the Pink Door in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the Zephyr Grill in California under the apprenticeship of Nick Musser. Upon his return to New England, Max became Executive Chef of West on Centre in Massachusetts before joining the Newport Restaurant Group as Executive Sous Chef at the Boat House. He currently helms the kitchen at Hemenway’s, a Providence seafood classic.
Executive Chef, Waterman Grille
Chef Noah Metnick joined the team at Newport Restaurant Group in 2015 with over 20 years of experience in professional kitchens. Born in Israel, Noah moved to the United States at a young age, growing up on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island. His interest in the culinary trade began early as a line cook at the city’s Leon’s on the West Side, and from there he decided to pursue cooking professionally, entering the Culinary Institute of America. Noah’s education has taken place in some of the most impressive kitchens in the country including the exclusive Maidstone Club in East Hampton, NY and the exquisite La Grenouille in New York City. Noah’s patient diligence and deep passion for his work earned eventually him the top spot as the restaurant’s executive chef, and as such, he continued to uphold its elite culinary reputation. It is to his time spent in the kitchen at La Grenouille, working with its small group of incredibly skilled and experienced cooks, chefs and dining room staff, that Noah credits his success as the artistic and disciplined chef he is today.
Currently, as executive chef of Waterman Grille, he delights guests with the restaurant’s imaginative small plates and grilled specialties, each influenced by the elegance and art of fine French cuisine and the fresh, local bounty of New England.
Executive Chef, 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille
A native of the Eastern Seaboard, Chef Tom Lyon’s culinary passion was seeded in his childhood kitchen by his two parents who loved to cook. He earned his associate degree in culinary arts and his bachelor’s of science in food service management from the globally recognized College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. After graduating, Tom pursued opportunities to sharpen his talents in professional kitchens across Rhode Island including the Alpine Country Club and Campanella’s Restaurant in Cranston and the elite Carnegie Abbey Country Club in Portsmouth where he earned a Culinary Excellence Award in 2010. More recently, Tom was chef/chef de cuisine at Newport’s Hyatt Regency, executive chef at the Naval Officers Club and executive sous chef at 22 Bowen’s before being promoted to the restaurant’s executive chef in 2015. While leading the culinary team at 22 Bowen’s, Tom has raised the steak house menu bar by developing innovative and creative selections inspired by the seasons which are savored, bite by bite, by steak and seafood lovers alike.
Executive Chef, The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar
Raised in Hazlet, New Jersey, Chef Brian Pawlak learned to love to cook from his mother as she taught him the fun of culinary creativity in their home kitchen. Brian pursued his interest in cooking completing his associate degree in food service management and associate degree in culinary arts. After graduating, he continued his training along the East Coast including work with former Food & Wine Top Rising Chef, John Farnsworth, in Florida, Chris Freeman at the Wauwinet, a Relias & Chateaux property in Nantcuket, and with his mentor, Michael Lascola, at American Seasons, also in Nantucket. In the New Jersey/ New York area Brian worked for David Burke at Park Ave Café in New York City, next taking his first executive chef position at Fromagerie, a fine dining French restaurant in Rumson, NJ.
Brian eventually left New Jersey for opportunities in Columbus, Ohio where he soon became executive chef /partner in two different restaurants; Z Cucina, an award-winning Top 20 Italian restaurant, and Deepwood, recognized as one of Columbus’ Top Ten 6 times, as Best New Restaurant in 2009, awarded three and a half stars by Columbus Monthly, and was Zagat rated 27 for food. Brian also won Best Chef by Columbus monthly in 2010.
Despite his professional success in Ohio, Pawlak’s heart never left the New England area, and in June of 2015 he returned to the East Coast where he began his new endeavor with Newport Restaurant Group as executive chef of The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar where he bases his distinct menu selections around his belief in locally sourced food served in an appropriate elegant manner.
Executive Chef, TRIO
Chef Walter Slater began his culinary journey at Johnson & Wales University, graduating with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. He spent the first decade of his young career in a variety of small restaurant kitchens gaining valuable hands-on experience as a chef as well as a general manager. In the end, Slater decided the more creative aspects of cooking was more his passion and as a chef at Table 28 in East Greenwich, RI his culinary interest and expertise truly began to flourish.
In 2010 Chef Slater joined the Newport Restaurant Group and over the last six years he has been a consistent influence in many of its kitchens across Rhode Island. He began as a kitchen supervisor at Providence’s beloved Hemenway’s, where continued to hone his skills in both kitchen management and creative menu preparation. At The Mooring, Slater pursued his career as kitchen manager, then as sous chef, and finally as executive chef as he continued the restaurant’s tradition of superb New England seafood selections. Walter also acted as executive chef at Smoke House, reinventing the slow-smoked menu that the BBQ eatery is now renown for. In 2015 Chef Walter assumed his current position of executive chef at Narragansett’s Trio where he developed a new menu that presents authentic New England seafood offerings with South County influences and ingredients, as well as house-made pizzas and pastas that reflect the relaxed beach community Trio calls home.
Executive Chef, Avvio Ristorante
Executive Chef Greg Coccio realized his passion for working in the hospitality industry when he was a teenager working as a dishwasher at Martinos in North Kingstown, RI Determined to do more, Coccio earned skills as a line cook and spent time in the kitchens of Rhode Island restaurants in North Kingstown and East Greenwich before taking an opportunity as kitchen supervisor with Newport Restaurant Group. He finessed his management skills at the landmark seafood restaurant Hemenway’s in Providence and at Trio in Narragansett, he honed his culinary skills in an array of techniques. After a brief hiatus outside of NRG, Chef Coccio returned, shifting his expertise to the Papa Razzi brand. There he worked under the tutelage of director of culinary arts, Kevin DiLibero, as executive chef at Papa Razzi, first in Framingham, MA and then in Cranston, RI.
His outstanding performance in the Papa Razzi restaurants made Chef Coccio the natural pick to lead Avvio’s kitchen when it opened in April 2016. Coccio’s understanding of genuine Italian cooking is invaluable, and his approach is beloved, focusing on a team environment comprised of a wide range of cultures and passions, and above all, putting the guest experience first.