Mar Monte Hotel appoints Gunnar Planter new Executive Chef - Insights
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Mar Monte Hotel appoints Gunnar Planter new Executive Chef

Executive Chef Gunnar Planter
Executive Chef Gunnar Planter

Mar Monte Hotel, a boutique luxury lifestyle hotel in Santa Barbara, part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand, is pleased to announce the appointment of Executive Chef Gunnar Planter. In his new role, Planter will oversee the hotel’s two restaurants, costa Kitchen & Bar and Café Lido, and debut new menus with fresh seasonal dishes and rich local flavors. 

“We are so excited to welcome Chef Gunnar Planter to Mar Monte Hotel,” said Aliya Kritzler, Vice President of Food and Beverage, Luxury and Lifestyle Brands at HEI Hotels & Resorts. “With his impressive background, enthusiasm and passion for culinary excellence, we look forward to elevating our signature restaurant costa Kitchen & Bar to an even higher level, positioning us as the go-to dining destination for discerning travelers and locals alike.”

Executive Chef Planter designed the new menu at costa Kitchen & Bar with a focus on sustainably-sourced ingredients inspired by the fresh seafood he gets from Santa Barbara Seafood Market and produce available at local farms such Seaside Greens, as well as the regional farmer’s markets. Signature dishes at costa Kitchen & Bar include fresh starters such as Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower with pearl pepper, chickpea chana, Meyer lemon oil, pecorino and cilantro; and delicious main dishes including Squid Ink Linguini and Clams with Manila clams, masala and uni butter sauce, snow peas and pea tendrils; a 30-Day Dry Aged New York Steak and Bone Marrow with duck fat mash, cipollini onions, haricots verts, king trumpet mushrooms and red wine demi-glace; and Roasted Rack of Lamb with fregula sarda, confit fennel, San Marzano tomatoes, oyster mushrooms and harissa lamb jus. These dishes will be complemented by classically rooted cocktails including By Way of Jalisco, a refreshing libation with Altos Reposado Tequila, blackberry, pomegranate, lime, ginger beer and Jerry Thomas bitters; and Garden Party, a fresh blend of St. George Botanivore Gin, yellow chartreuse, dry vermouth, hopped grapefruit bitters and lemon.

At costa’s more casual sister restaurant, Café Lido, the updated all-day menu features dishes including Crispy Masala Shrimp with squid ink, black garlic, masala aioli and grilled Meyer lemon; a Fried Chicken Sandwich with buttermilk fried chicken, garlic aioli, curtido and butter lettuce on a pretzel bun; and new breakfast dishes such as a Scotch Egg consisting of a soft-boiled hen egg, herbed bread crumbs, Calabrian chili hollandaise sauce and breakfast potatoes. Guests can also enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board with cow, goat and blue cheeses, seasonal compote and garnishes, crackers and crostini.

Additional culinary experiences include a new Champagne weekend brunch launching this April at costa Kitchen & Bar, and a Social Hour every Wednesday through Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. with special deals on select beverages and appetizers to enjoy while taking in the beautiful Santa Barbara sunset. 

With over a decade of culinary experience, Planter is dedicated to serving the highest quality food with an emphasis on local ingredients and purveyors. Before joining the team at Mar Monte Hotel, Planter opened Ebullition Gastronomy, a fine dining gastropub in Carlsbad, Calif. specializing in dry aged meats and charcuterie, and served as Executive Chef. Prior to that, he opened Viewpoint, a restaurant in Del Mar, Calif., and developed a menu based on coastal Californian cuisine as the Executive Chef, sourcing his ingredients from local farmers and fisherman. He previously served as Executive Sous Chef at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, and before that worked at several private social clubs, hotels and restaurants where he honed his experience in fine dining and banquets. Planter first began his training in 2006 at French restaurant Mill Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe, under the mentorship of James Beard Award-winning Chef Martine Woesle, who remains his mentor and friend to this day. He worked there for six years and advanced to Sous Chef, while obtaining his Bachelor’s in Culinary Science from the Art Institute of San Diego. 

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