Gerlach Named Restaurant Chef in Raya at The Ritz-Carlton of Laguna Niguel


We here at Great Taste are excited to hear that Marissa Gerlach is the new Restaurant Chef in RAYA at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.RAYA is a restaurant concept by acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval that showcases Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine prepared with sustainable seafood, local produce, natural and organic meats, and Chef Sandoval’s signature Latin flavors.

With more than seven years of culinary experience, Chef Marissa is passionate about the food she serves her guests in RAYA. “Every product we use has a history, a story behind it. For instance, AquaFarm is a small local sustainable seafood farm in Southern California. I visited the facility where I learned so much about how using locally grown seafood not only offers the guests a much tastier product, but it helps lessen our carbon footprint,” said Chef Gerlach. “It’s this type of experience that brings a story to the food we create and enjoy,” she added.

“Working with Chef Richard Sandoval, I have become very fond of unique ingredients such as Togarashi, an Asian seven spice, Huitlacoche, a sweet fungus that grows on corn, and Pilonillo, which is unrefined Mexican cane sugar that is smoky, caramel-like, and earthy all in one. Each week, my goal is to pair an ingredient like one of these with a fresh, seasonal product to create a new and unique dish. I present these dishes on the chef’s tasting menu and the best ones find their way on the seasonal menu.”

Chef Marissa joined the resort in April 2010 as a culinary supervisor on the pre-opening team of RAYA. With her creativity and passion for food she quickly became a key contributor in the success of the restaurant. Within six months, Chef Marissa was promoted to sous chef where she continued to influence and contribute to the creation of the daily and seasonal menus. She also played a pivotal roll in RAYA being recognized as “Restaurant of the Year” by Riviera Orange County in July 2011.

Prior to joining RAYA, Chef Marissa worked in kitchens of some of the best restaurants and hotels in California including Studio at Montage Laguna Beach under Chef James Boyce, Bardessono in Yountville, The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley under Chef Christopher Kostow, and Cyrus in Healdsburg under Chef Douglas Keane.

Native to Dana Point, Chef Marissa completed her Culinary Arts Certification at the Orange County Coast College. On her time off she enjoys hiking and cycling.

Posted By: Ashley Nicole 10/1/2011