Travel Blog

Meet Santa Cruz County’s New Superstar Chefs

The ever-expanding Santa Cruz dining scene always has something new to offer, from debuting restaurants to the hottest seasonal dish. The latest buzz is all about new kitchen talent. With a bounty of fresh produce and seafood at their disposal, skillful new chefs are reinvigorating menus across the county. Here’s the scoop on a recent chef shuffle that’s perking up the local food scene.

David Baron
Sanderlings Restaurant at Seascape Beach Resort
There is a new addition leading the culinary team at the Seascape Beach Resort in Aptos. Chef David Baron, previously with Casanova restaurant in Carmel and Marina’s Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette is now Executive Chef for the resort’s onsite eatery, Sanderling’s. Patio dining with a view, as well as an expansive dining room are two ambient options – along with a new picnic area, where take-out meals, beer, and wine can be enjoyed al fresco!

Chef Martin Hoellrigl

Martin Hoellrigl
Capitola Garden Feast
A native of Austria and a graduate from the Austrian tourism college Absam, Martin Hoellrigl showed his passion across Europe and California and developed an enthusiasm for seafood. He built his career in Austria, Italy, and Germany and later in southern California where he first joined the Hilton Hotels & Resorts family. Martin liaised with some of the most respected hospitality names like Hôtel Le Bristol Paris, Hilton Suffren, Gallery One, Palais Daun Kinsky, Falkensteiner, and Balance Resort Stegersbach to name a few and cooked meals for Pope John Paul II, Tonino Lamborghini, and Julia Child.  When Martin and his family decided to make Santa Cruz County their home, Capitola Garden Feast became the next chapter, offering an array of team building events that help inspire collaboration, creativity and improved communication using food and cooking as the medium. Martin and his team help create DIY dinners with a personal instructor for groups of eight or more.

Chef Rodrigo Serna

Rodrigo Serna
La Posta
As La Posta restaurant in Santa Cruz’s Seabright neighborhood marks its 13th anniversary, the local eatery celebrates the appointment of longtime employee Rodrigo Serna to lead the kitchen.  The 32-year-old Serna has been part of owner Patrice Boyle’s Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar and La Posta family for more than a decade. Born and raised in the State of Aguascalientes in Central Mexico, he had always cooked with his family, but it was never something he considered a career. After a move to the Bay Area in his early 20s, one of Soif’s former chefs, saw a lot of potential in Serna and took him under his wing, teaching him everything from prepping ingredients to working across multiple stations. His growing interest in the culinary field led him to take on additional work in the La Posta kitchen about a year later, and has not set foot outside of the kitchen since.  As Serna reflects on his more than decade of working in a kitchen, he considers himself lucky to have been given the room to grow and an opportunity to work with great mentors. While he spent the last eight years working with mastering Italian cuisine, he also credits his time at Soif under chefs Santos Majano, Mark Denham and Tom McNary for building a solid culinary foundation. Opened by Patrice Boyle in December 2006, La Posta takes the soulfulness of Italian cuisine and transports it to the Seabright neighborhood with a market-driven menu of pizza, pasta and more, highlighting local farmers and food producers.

Updated August 2020

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