Justin Cogley was appointed chef de cuisine of Aubergine restaurant in January 2011, where he oversees Aubergine and all of L’Auberge Carmel’s culinary programs.
Cogley comes to Carmel by way of Chicago, Illinois, where he was instrumental in opening the Elysian Hotel’s new kitchen as executive sous chef. He previously worked at Charlie Trotter’s critically acclaimed restaurant for four years, claiming the position of chef de cuisine for the last two. As such, he was responsible for menu creation, special events, and extensive instruction and management of the culinary staff.
With delicate interplay between creativity, tradition, and respect for his ingredients, Cogley’s food is deeply unique. His style is a sophisticated balance between innovation and unwavering deference for the finest ingredients he procures. “If I had to describe my food,” Cogley says, “I would say each plate has a purpose.” Cogley’s goal is to inspire guests to enjoy a broad combination of flavors and textures. He may present a diner with a vegetable prepared three ways on his plate but, Cogley says, “each of the flavors will be unique and pure.”
Prior to his career as a chef, Cogley was a professional international figure skater performing with “Disney on Ice.” Traveling and touring with the show for four years in Asia, Australia and Europe, Cogley was exposed to new flavors and cuisines, as well as a myriad of food markets and international techniques. These culinary experiences confirmed his passion for food, travel, and good wine, and when he returned to the United States, he enrolled at the Western Culinary Institute and began working in select restaurants in Portland, Oregon. After graduating with top honors in 2005, he launched his culinary career on the team at Charlie Trotter’s.
Executive Pastry Chef
Ron Mendoza is the Executive Pastry Chef for L’Auberge Carmel and its sister properties in Carmel, California, Cantinetta Luca and Salumeria Luca. Formerly of Patina, Sona, and Boule in Los Angeles and the prestigious The French Laundry in Yountville, Chef Mendoza brings years of training and experience to his position; this is his third position at a Relais & Chateaux property.
Mendoza began his culinary career at the age of 25 when he enrolled at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, CA. During his studies, he joined Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group, starting on the hot line of Nick and Stef’s steakhouse. Mendoza soon advanced to Patina Restaurant, where he began rigorous pastry training under Michelle Myers. He then went on to work for Chef David Myers at Restaurant Jaan in both savory and pastry areas. His successful relationship with both David and Michelle Myers continued when they asked him to help open their acclaimed restaurant, Sona. This fruitful relationship continued further when the couple asked Mendoza to help them open Boule Patisserie in Los Angeles as the director of operations, overseeing the launch of one of the city’s most highly regarded specialty pastry shops. It was at this time that Mendoza was recognized as a “Rising Star”
In 2006, Thomas Keller offered him the position of Pastry Sous Chef at the famed French Laundry in Yountville, California. While there he immersed himself in the Thomas Keller culture, where he cultivated a quest for perfection and a passionate respect for ingredients.
Mendoza’s style, while creative and modern, is still based in classic technique and reverence for raw ingredients. “Everything starts with fruit,” he says. Mendoza strives for balance in flavors and textures. He firmly maintains, “the best desserts are made in the moment.”
Like his heroes, Pierre Herme, Albert Adria, and Oriol Balaguer, Mendoza is classically trained but thinks outside the box.
As far as his own creations, Mendoza feels there is still much room for exploration. He looks forward to using savory elements in his pastry, such as herbs, vegetables, and spices, as well as techniques like sautéing and braising. Yet true to his balance of tradition and innovation, when asked for his personal sweet favorites, he doesn’t hesitate: “Tahitian vanilla. And gooey chocolate chip cookies.”