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."
For the second year in a row, Chef Wood was voted The "Best Chef in Monterey County 2016" by the annual Monterey County Weekly annual "Best of Monterey Poll", with over 13,000 ballots submitted, Chef Wood was a stand out winner for Best Chef. When Chef Wood's is not foraging in our organic gardens, fruit trees, salt house, vineyards, chicken coop and apiaries collecting dinner ingredients, he can be found in the kitchens creating seasonally-inspired across the 500-acre culinary playground.
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.
Resort Beverage Manager and Sommelier
Mark Buzan is a Level Two Certified Sommelier with a passion for wine and more than 17 years of experience at leading restaurants, hotels and resorts. In his new role guiding Carmel Valley Ranch's world-class wine and beverage program, Buzan works closely with award-winning Executive Chef Tim Wood and Winemaker Peter Figge to incorporate the bounty of the resort's 4-acre Pinot Noir vineyard, organic garden, and surrounding landscape into thoughtful seasonal and locally-inspired beverage menus.
Mark honed his deep knowledge of the Carmel Valley and surrounding regions as Wine Director at Bernardus Lodge; Corporate Wine & Spirits Manager at Pebble Beach Resorts; founding Wine Director for the annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine event; and Wine Director at The Highlands Inn in Carmel, where he helmed the final Masters of Food & Wine event at the historic property.
As the area has gained traction as a burgeoning wine region, and with the rapid growth of The Ranch's own Swing label, launched in Fall of 2015, Mark looks forward to elevating the guest experience through unique and educational tasting programs, winemaker dinners, and holiday-themed events showcasing the best of local purveyors.
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.
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.
Guided Trail Rides
As Carmel Valley Ranch's resident Cowgirl, Molly Heneks provides guests and visitors with a memorable horseback experience. Touching along the way about local history, and the abundant flora and fauna species, Molly manages the resident herd of around 30 beautiful horses that live year round at the Hilltop Corral.
Growing up on a ranch here in Carmel Valley taught Molly to explore her world from the back of a horse. To her, there is nothing more magical than the experience someone can get from the back of a horse on the trail.
Molly received a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Wildlife. This allowed her to come home and combine her love of nature with her passion for horses into Carmel Valley Trail Rides.
Jill J. Rivoli
Certified Equine Guided Educator
My love of horses started virtually as soon as I was old enough to know what a horse was and I was fortunate to have my first one at nine years old. I've spent a lifetime with horses; riding, managing resort equestrian facilities, guest ranches, kids youth equine camps and it has been a wonderful journey. That journey led me to Equine Experiential Education.
Equine Experiential Education has profoundly impacted the way that I live my life by introducing me to the concepts and practices of awareness, connection and mindfulness through the way of the horse. I have since helped thousands of others improve the quality of their relationships including; co-workers (team building), family, friendships, spouses, and often most importantly, their relationship with their self.
I have always been fascinated with the interconnectedness of people and our relationship with each other and the natural world. My under graduate degree is in Anthropology, my graduate work is Social Sciences with an emphasis on Leadership and Experiential Education. I have certificates in Leadership from the American Hotel and Lodging Institute and the Ford Family Foundation, a teaching certificate in Environmental Education and a certification in Equine Guided Education.
Recently I was the manager of equine programs and facilitator for the "Equine Experience" at Miraval Resort in Tucson, AZ.
I believe that we are not put on this earth to be alone and that connection with others is something of interest to all beings.
I have lived in California, Oregon, Hawaii, Montana, Arizona, Idaho and gravitate towards places of great beauty.
I am a lifelong student of human behavior and love sharing experiences with people (horses and dogs rate just as high in my book).