Central Coast Wine Classic Featured Chefs

2016 Central Coast Wine Classic featured chefs will be posted here as details are confirmed.

Chef Beñat “Bernard” Ibarra

Terranea Resort
Palos Verdes, California

Chef Beñat Bernard Ibarra

Coming from Southern California by way of Basque Country in Spain, extraordinary Basque Chef Beñat Ibarra will add additional scintillation to the remarkable Rare Wines and Fine Cuisine that will be presented at the Santa Barbara Club on Friday evening August 12!

Terranea Resort recently appointed Chef Ibarra as Executive Chef of the resort’s Food and Beverage operations, a role that includes the supervision of the eight dining venues, in-room dining department, and banquets division.

Ibarra brings more than 30 years of culinary and hospitality experience to Terranea Resort. After earning his Culinary Associate Degree at College Technique La Citadelle in France, he began working at Michelin rated Hôtel des Pyrénées with his mentor, Chef Arrambide. While next working with the Four Seasons Hotel group, he opened and operated locations in Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Houston, Tokyo, and Singapore.

Ibarra was then named executive chef of the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore before moving to the U.S. to join Arnaud's in New Orleans as executive chef. He was later appointed to the world-renowned Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, before relocating again to the U.S. to serve as executive chef of The Mirage Hotel & Casino and, most recently, the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, where he opened and oversaw 16 on-site restaurants, in-room dining, and banquets for the state of the art property.

“We are delighted to have Chef Bernard Ibarra join our extraordinary culinary team," says Terri A. Haack, executive vice president and managing director. "Chef Ibarra's extensive culinary experience and expertise is sure to enhance the food and beverage offerings that have made Terranea a dining destination."

"I am honored to join the culinary team at Terranea," says Ibarra. "The resort's food and beverage programs are industry renowned and I look forward to the opportunity to work with the team to further evolve and enhance the guest dining experience."

Born and raised in the French side of the Basque Country, Ibarra became interested in pursuing a career as a chef early on. His parent’s ability to create simple, yet delicious, meals using locally harvested products, served as an inspiration. Growing up in a tourist destination, Ibarra experienced how Basque’s seaside restaurants, fisheries, and marketplace created an environment and lifestyle filled with food and centered in hospitality.

Ibarra’s cooking philosophy is that, “one must respect the ingredients and the cultures, feel the passion, and live your life like you are cooking a great dish.” His global travels and exposure to various cuisines fuels his desire to continue to grow and learn. He finds harmony and comfort in cooking and enjoys sharing his innovation and passion with guests and fellow associates.

We will find Harmony and Comfort with not only his incredible culinary background but also with the Culinary Manifestations that emerge from his vibrant creativity and his enthusiasm at preparing and presenting the Wine Classic’s First Rare Wine Dinner! Welcome Chef Beñat “Bernard” Ibarra! It is a great pleasure and an honor to have you join us.

James Siao

James Siao

James Siao is the executive chef of Finch & Fork restaurant at Kimpton’s Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, California. He is responsible for the menus at Fork & Finch, as well as the banquet and in-room menus for the Canary Hotel and oversees the entire kitchen staff.

In 2012, Siao became the executive chef of Coast restaurant in Santa Barbara, and Coast subsequently evolved to became Finch & Fork in 2013. As the executive chef, Siao has created a modern American bar and grill, creating a menu that features shareable plates such as the flatbreads, salt & pepper chicken wings and house deviled eggs, as well as larger soul satisfying plates such as his popular buttermilk fried chicken, Skuna Bay salmon, and seared sea scallops. Siao’s food is meant to be enjoyed with artisanal wines, craft cocktails, and great beers.

Siao grew up in Ohio, being surrounded by great food in his father’s Chinese restaurant. He learned a great deal about how food can bring people together, but also about the restaurant business. He started working his way up-- working at the restaurant as a teenager, bussing tables and washing dishes. These roles helped him understand just how hard the business is. From there, he worked his way up, serving, prepping and even cooking on the line.

From there, Siao decided he wanted to become an executive chef. He attended culinary school in Pittsburgh while working on the side at a local country club. An internship during school took him to Arizona where he worked at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch. After completing his internship, he stayed on and continued working at the resort to further his understanding and experience.

Siao decided it was time to go back to Ohio, and worked in a number of smaller local family restaurants before landing his first sous chef position in 2001. He was promoted to executive chef of that same family restaurant in 2002, and managed the kitchen for more than four years.

In 2006, Siao returned to Arizona to work with the Marriot Renaissance in Scottsdale as the executive sous chef. He worked a second job at Taggia Restaurant at the local Kimpton Firesky Resort, and worked both jobs until he had the opportunity to become the sous chef at Taggia.

Siao became the chef de cuisine at Taggia in 2008, and worked there for a total of just over six years. In 2009, he had the opportunity to help a friend open a restaurant in Italy. He jumped at the opportunity, and spent the next three months living and working in Italy. The time he spent in Italy helped him learn even more about how food and culture intertwine, and once again, how food brings people together. He had a greater appreciation for interacting with the guest, and learned how to make each dining experience even better than the last.

He returned to Taggia in 2010 and focused on all of the things he had learned—bringing an even better guest experience to his clientele, and drawing from the influences and lessons he had learned in Italy. He headed to Santa Barbara shortly after in 2012.

In his free time, James likes to participate in local charitable events, such as Share Our Strength’s Chef Cycle and Taste of the Nation. He’s also enjoys a good road trip, and is often heading up or down the coast to Los Angeles or San Francisco to check out the food scene.