Beekeeper and Lavender Expert
John Russo is the resident beekeeper and lavender expert at Carmel Valley Ranch and leads the signature beekeeping experience at the resort's on-site apiary that features more than 60,000 Italian honeybees.
In these weekly educational workshops where he's known to sprinkle in trademark bee humor, John teaches guest beekeepers about the fascinating lives of bees, their importance in the natural world and the highly-structured workings of life inside the hive, all before donning bee suits to peek inside an actual hive. John is also a lavender expert who presides over the more than 7,500 lavender plants that dot the resort in addition to leading unique seasonal programs including lavender distillation and lavender soap-making workshops.
Before finding his true calling in the Carmel Valley, John lived in Silicon Valley where he was the vice president of a software development company. Leaving behind a life of stress, John now lives in the Carmel Valley with his wife Yoko.
Mark Marino serves as the resident organic farmer and gardener at Carmel Valley Ranch, overseeing the resort's two-acre organic garden while also leading weekly tours. Mark also works closely with Chef Wood to ensure the on-site organic garden supports his seasonal menus while showcasing the freshest and highest-quality ingredients straight from The Ranch.
Mark has worked in organic farming and gardening for more than 35 years. After studying Alan Chadwick's French Intensive Biodynamic gardening method at Red Horizon Farm in Santa Barbara, Calif., he set out on a life-long passion to develop and refine techniques of growing specialty organic produce, flowers, herbs and experimental crops.
Peter Figge is the resident vintner at Carmel Valley Ranch and is developing the resort's hillside vineyard located just steps away from the Lodge that is the heart of the 500-acre resort. In 2014, Peter will begin harvesting Carmel Valley Ranch's own Pinot Noir grapes with wine scheduled to be released in 2016.
Peter is also the proprietor of Figge Cellars in Monterey and is an expert of vinecology as he is involved in the process of winemaking from the growing of the grape to the bottling of the wine.
The Salt Guy
Bob, an avid cook and former carpenter, started the Monterey Bay Salt Company to produce clean, renewable salt. He uses water from the nutrient-rich Monterey Bay, and the sea salt is harvested after letting the water evaporate in our own Salt House, located in our organic garden. Bob also mixes the salts with flavors like garlic, rosemary-sage, and Thai dragon chili.
Our Resort Beverage Manager Dave Eriksen, certified sommelier, started his wine career with one of the country's oldest winemaking families who had planted the first commercial vines in Monterey County back in 1961. After working at various restaurants, resorts, culinary schools, and cruise ships around the world, Dave returned to Monterey County. Our cellar holds over 400 different wines from all around the world, but Dave's connections to the local winemakers and love for local products help The Ranch showcase the best that our county has to offer.
Fred is a teacher and the author of Extraordinary Golf: The Art of the Possible, Extraordinary Putting: Transforming the Whole Game, and Extraordinary Golf: The Secret to Transforming Your Game. He created the Extraordinary Golf coaching program to teach people about ways to self-coach. Fred also integrates deeper and broader aspects of learning, including how to work with information and how to develop a mastery practice. Extraordinary Golf has called The Ranch home for more than 20 years.
Before becoming a local source for The Ranch, Jerry was fishing buddies with Chef Tim. Jerry brings Tim fresh fish daily. Line-caught from the Monterey Bay Jerry brings wild sea bass, halibut, salmon, swordfish and tuna. Tim is a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Task Force and he relies on Jerry to bring him locally sourced sustainably caught fish. You may even see Jerry and Chef talking fish over a beer at the Lodge Restaurant.
Nick is a trained botanist who worked with us to breathe new life into an ancient tradition of therapy by harvesting the restorative power of plants grown on property and blending them with other healing, organic botanicals. He helped us develop our exclusive Ranch amenity products with pure essential oils, natural botanical extracts and even lavender flowers grown here at The Ranch so that they are both results-oriented and delightful to the senses. Our skilled therapist practitioners then use these products to offer guests transformative and unique experiences.
Tim Wood, Executive Chef at Carmel Valley Ranch, began his culinary career in the Catskills region of New York's Hudson Valley. It was here among the area's countless small family farms that Wood learned the importance of local seasonal ingredients - where they come from, how they are grown, and how to be creative with them. This early awareness of quality ingredients planted an initial seed of interest in a culinary career which eventually led him to Carmel Valley Ranch. Nestled in the heart of California's most fertile growing region, the area's rich history of wine growing and sustainable, organic farming is reflected in Chef Wood's fresh, natural and seasonal menus. Surrounded by talented artisans, Chef is able to obtain many of the raw materials for his culinary masterpieces within walking distance of his kitchen. Many of the fruits and vegetables featured in Chef's dishes are grown at The Ranch's on-site organic garden by Mark Marino, added to fresh fish caught by Jerry Wetle, flavored with Bob Kirkland's salt and paired with wine selections from Peter Figge.
"The best thing about working in the Central Coast area is the ability to be so closely connected to local products and the people behind them," says Wood when speaking about his overall philosophy. "When you know where your food is from and understand the care that the purveyors grant it, it is easy to extend your hand in friendship and consider them part of your family."