Biltmore Culinary Academy - Meet the Chefs
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago and a 1988 graduate of Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute, one of the best and oldest culinary schools in the country, Chef David Hackett began his culinary journey at the very early age of 12 and has now been in the hospitality industry for over 35 years. Hackett’s experience as Executive Chef includes many prestigious properties and resorts including the Westin Diplomat Hotel, Westin Charlotte, Mansion at Forsyth Park, Doral Golf Resort & Spa and the JW Marriott Dubai, among others. He has competed in numerous ACF, Societe Culinaire philanthropic, Geneva Association Culinary Art Salons and NICA ice carving competitions throughout his career, both locally and internationally. This includes the 1996 IKA Culinary Olympics and the 1998 Le Salon Culinaire International de Londres. Chef Hackett is a professional member of the international food and wine society Chaine des Rotisseurs and a Lifetime Ambassador of the WACS Emirates Culinary Guild. Some of his achievements include receipt of the Barry University Distinguished Chef Award in 2009 as well as 1st place prize in the John Offerdahl Gridiron Grill-Off in 2010 and 2011.
Executive Pastry Chef
Born in Annecy, France, Chef Olivier Rodriguez grew to love the culinary arts by helping his parents run their restaurant from a very young age. Always drawn to the pastry kitchen, Rodriguez knew early in his life that this would be his calling. He completed four years at the Centre de Formation CFA de Groisy in Annecy, France, two of which he spent specializing in pastry.
Rodriguez joined the Biltmore as the Executive Pastry Chef in 2007 from the Bally’s and Paris hotel group in Las Vegas, where he was the Assistant Executive Pastry Chef. His other previous roles include Assistant Pastry Chef at the Swan and Dolphin in Orlando, Florida, as well as Assistant Pastry Chef at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, Georgia.
His signature sweets and flair for creativity have found their ideal showplace at the Biltmore.
Biltmore Culinary Academy Instructor
A native from the Dominican Republic she came to the United States in 1996 to pursue her passion for cooking. Graduated at the top of her class from Johnson & Wales University in the Culinary Arts Baccalaureate program; Over 20 years of culinary experience in catering, restaurant and resort kitchens, cake making, baking and culinary education have given Chef Jeannette a well-rounded knowledge in Mediterranean, Asian and Latin American flavors, even though baking still remains her true passion.
Born in Ft Lauderdale and raised in South Florida, Downs grew up appreciating fresh seafood and tropical accents of flavor and style. A graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute, Downs has worked in numerous 4 and 5 star resorts and clubs including the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Breakers Hotel, Grand Hyatt Buckhead, Westin Diplomat, and Mar a Lago Club. He began working at the Biltmore Hotel in February, 2013 and has taken on the important role of leading the Biltmore’s Culinary Banquet Team with an understanding the importance of using only the freshest ingredients in order to ensure the utmost in quality of products. His expertise and close attention to detail, along with his personalized South Florida/Caribbean style, provide each guest with a presentation of perfection in every dish.
Chef de Cuisine, Palme d’Or
Born and raised in the Southwest region of France, Chef Gregory Pugin boasts an impressive resume including having worked with the renowned master Chef Joël Robuchon in his Paris laboratory, opening restaurants and working on his TV show. After opening L’Atelier Joël Robuchon in New York City, he remained there for two years as Executive Sous Chef. Pugin left Robuchon to begin working as Executive Chef of Veritas, where he was recognized with a Michelin Star and a “Rising Chef of the Year” nomination from the James Beard Foundation. Before joining the Biltmore, Pugin was the Executive Chef at Le Cirque in the Bellagio in Las Vegas and received the award for “Most Savory Dish of the Year” in 2011 for his Oxtail Bucatini Timbale. Palme d’Or’s newest Chef de Cuisine says that he is "always thinking about the experience," and hopes to make each meal "the best meal anyone has ever had."
Chef de Cuisine, Fontana
Born in Ferrara, Italy, Chef Giuseppe “Beppe” Galazzi developed his culinary passion from his grandfather, a chef, and began his pursuit of the culinary arts at the early age of 14. Heavily influenced by his teachers at the Culinary Institute in Ferrara, Galazzi’s curiosity about food grew into the skill with which he now executes every dish. Chef Galazzi attributes his unique style to his love for traveling, absorbing recipes from various cultures and transforming them into his own creations using local and organic ingredients. When asked what he contributes to Fontana’s well-rounded menu, Galazzi replied, "I like to offer what people cannot often find in restaurants, and that they won’t cook at home."