Rising Star Chef Andy Arndt is leaving Aquariva. He is moving to the Marriott downtown on January 1st, while the hotel goes through a 6 million dollar renovation. These changes include renovating the lobby, communal areas, four new meeting rooms, and a new restaurant featuring Northwest Cuisine, which will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
While attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Chef Andy Arndt had the opportunity to work at one of San Francisco’s best restaurants, Boulevard, with Chef Nancy Oakes, whose mentorship would shape his career. Oakes taught him the importance of focusing on the seasonal ingredients abundant in the Bay area. In 1998, Arndt chose to broaden his culinary horizons and accepted a position at San Francisco’s award-winning Mc2 with Chef Yoshi Kojima. He spent the following two years helping Kojima develop and execute his French-Californian cuisine inflected with subtle Japanese elements.
Eager to expand his repertoire, Arndt left the West Coast for New York City, where he embarked on a series of stages with the city’s leading chefs. His first stop was at Union Pacific where he worked with Chef Rocco Dispirito. The next stop was at March with Chef Wayne Nish. Soon after, Arndt was lured to Gramercy Tavern by Chef Tom Colicchio. There, Arndt spent the next year absorbing Colicchio’s culinary vision and expanding his knowledge of East Coast ingredients. Arndt was then hired as chef de cuisine at Halcyon Restaurant at the Rihga Royal Hotel. While at Halcyon, he managed a kitchen staff of 40. Under his tenure, Halcyon received some of its best critical reviews since its opening. Arndt leapt on the opportunity to stage under iconic chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. He also worked at The Village Pub in Woodside, California, with Chef Mark Sullivan.
At Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, where Arndt was executive chef for four years, he was responsible for the food program at all restaurants and banquets with a large focus on seasonality and farm-to-table mentality. During his tenure, the resort acquired a Five Diamond AAA Rating. Today he lives in Portland as the chef at Italian restaurant Aquariva. And while he took his lessons in seasonal cooking under Oakes to heart, his own Portland-friendly brand of inventive Northwest cuisine is all his own. From comfort-driven dishes like short ribs, to wildly inventive fare like gin and tonic gelée-topped salmon, Arndt’s inventiveness is obvious and continues to astound.
That’s all kinds of interesting and weird. Cause while Grand Heritage (Aquariva’s management company) isn’t the greatest, they pay fairly competitively—particularly for a small company.
Contrast that with Interstate Hotels, which owns the Mariott, who are notorious for their bargain basement pay scale—and endless demand for results.
Aquariva was less of a hotel restaurant and more (or tried to be) of a destination, what with the views and all. The space at the Marriot is REALLY limited and very much inside the property. They initially tried a Shula’s franchise, followed by a generic hotel restaurant that loses money. Both were rather pathetic failures, sitting empty most of the time.
Perhaps a local “celeb” chef will up their cred….Gotta say, though their boutique efforts never exactly paid off.
Marriot he is going to is the waterfront property. Shula’s was in downtown location. Marriot is putting a significant amount of money into remodel. Wait and see, but it is a Marriot so time will tell.
Well that DOES make more sense, because that’s a corporate hotel and Marriot Corporate actually pays really, really well.
HOWEVER…it will also be an entirely different, highly administrator, non-creative job—focusing more on reporting, stats and metrics than anything else. Plus at such a convention style hotel, no amount of marketing will EVER bring in restaurant traffic. Even if they try and revive their fine dining restaurant, no one’s going to go there. Even the people staying in house.
I’m also mystified by the huge renovation—they just had one less than three years ago! And while their lobby area looks pretty, it will still never change the teeny, tiny guest rooms, basement level function space, etc.
unfortunatly Andy had to make a move. (Cullen ) Grand Heritage is out of both the Aquariva space and the Governor Hotel. Andy wanted to stay employeed. That space is tough. The Top floor are condos owned by civilians. The hotel space is the hotel space. So the ownership is difficult. Hotel Chef work is tough is Portland…..Garcies ( not really ) The Nines ( confused, but great roof top in the summer- but I heard the Nines is so mis-managed that they have yet to make a payment to the PDC ! The re=payment schedule is based on a higher “rack rate” then they are getting. But back to Andy….Mazel Tov!
Amoureuse, that is some mega interesting gossip (haven’t worked in the industry in awhile, now do PR/Marketing for another industry)!! Who runs the Governor, etc, now?
Just checked all the websites and Grand Heritage IS still claiming ownership, as well as the individual sites still advertising allegiance. Sooooo who is running the show now?