John Washko, a 32-year luxury hospitality leader, has been named food and beverage director for Southern California’s traveler destination Fashion Island Hotel. In addition, the hotel has named Aaron Anderson, 12-year culinary industry professional, as general manager of Fashion Island Hotel’s signature restaurant Oak Grill and vibrant after-work and night-time venue Aqua Lounge.
“We look forward to having these two hospitality veterans bring Fashion Island Hotel’s already acclaimed food and beverage venues, services and programs to new levels of hospitality excellence. Together they bring years of outstanding leadership, management acumen and hands-on luxury brand experience,” said the property’s General Manager Gerard Widder. “John’s distinguished and highly respected accomplishments have earned recognition from the most prestigious culinary organizations in the industry. And Aaron is a food and beverage chef specialist who has delivered exceptional experiences to thousands of dining guests throughout the years of his career.”
As food and beverage director, Washko oversees all food and beverage operations for Fashion Island Hotel, including Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, in-room and poolside dining, the hotel’s grab and go Market Place, banquets, weddings and Coastal Catering, the hotel’s catering division for offsite events.
In his new position as Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge general manager, Anderson works closely with Washko and Oak Grill’s Executive Chef Brittany Valles, as well as the Aqua Lounge team to elevate the food and beverage offerings.
Most recently, Washko served as executive director, food and beverage for Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and area director, food and beverage, luxury division, Americas of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, International. Prior to that position, he was vice president of hotel operations for six years for Auberge Resorts collection, maintaining award-winning brand standards within North America, the Caribbean and Mexico. He also held various executive level management, corporate assistance and brand concept development jobs focusing on food and beverage for the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in the U.S. and at numerous properties throughout the world.
Washko has served as a trustee for the James Beard Foundation, where he was chairman of the awards committee among other contributions, and received the James Beard Foundation “Angel Award” in 2007 and another prestigious James Beard Award in 2018. He is a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary society and assisted in facilitating the Conclave of the Masters at Cornell University.
Prior to his appointment at Fashion Island Hotel, Anderson was beverage director for Los Angeles-based Citrus Hospitality Management where he was responsible for all aspects of the group’s beverage programs and for managing a staff of 180 people working at Perch, Bar 13, Mrs. Fish and Hill Street Pizza. Previously, Anderson was director of operations with the Ditmus Restaurant Group in Los Angeles and served as executive chef/partner at South County Restaurant Group’s Harlow’s and Kingston Catering in San Juan Capistrano, California. Anderson has held chef positions at now-closed FigOly Restaurant in Los Angeles Luxe City Center Hotel, at McCormick and Schmick’s for various Orange County California locations, and he cheffed at Ivan Kane’s Café Was in Los Angeles. He graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu Certified Program at Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, with an associate’s degree of applied science.
Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge are located adjacent to Fashion Island shopping destination, inside Fashion Island Hotel Newport Beach and are easily accessible through a pedestrian entrance along Newport Center Drive, along with complimentary valet available at the hotel entrance. Reservations for Oak Grill can be made by calling 949.760.4920 or visiting www.oakgrillnb.com and for Aqua Lounge by calling 949.760.4342 or visiting www.aqualoungenb.com.