On Friday, January 17 Chef Gregg Wangard was awarded the 2014 Tourism Ambassador Award at the Visit San Luis Obispo County annual Tourism Vision Workshop. This is the second year the award has been presented to a local tourism partner, with Hearst Castle Museum Director Hoyt Fields as the first recipient in 2013. Chef Wangard was chosen as the 2014 Tourism Ambassador for his demonstration of excellence in various aspects of his career as a chef in SLO County. These include his community service, his dedication to the marketing of SLO County and his support for the growing “farm-to-table“ movement. Congratulations Chef Gregg Wangard! Visit San Luis Obispo County would like to share Chef Wangard's life experience with our fans. Enjoy!

Chef Gregg Wangard – Marisol at the Cliffs Resort

Wangard began his culinary career washing dishes in a small café in his hometown where his older brother worked in the kitchen. He enjoyed the fast pace of the kitchen atmosphere and the use of simple yet flavorful ingredients. During his last year of high school, he shadowed a chef at The American Club in Kohler, Wis., and shortly thereafter accepted a three-year American Culinary Federation (ACF) accredited apprenticeship and began culinary arts classes at the Waukesha Technical College in Wis. The following winter, Wangard was given the opportunity to work as an apprentice at Caneel Bay in the USVI.Wangard spent the next three years apprenticing at The American Club in the summer and traveling to Caneel Bay to master the art of Caribbean cuisine in the winter. It was here that he met his match in the kitchen and in life, Kelly Wangard, who is now his wife and also an acclaimed culinarian who currently serves as executive chef for and managing director for the newly remodeled and swaggy Summerwood Inn.

After finishing his apprenticeship, Wangard obtained a position as chef de cuisine of Cucina Restaurant in Kohler, Wis. and then moved to The Immigrant Room & Winery Bar at The American Club, the Midwest's only AAA Five Diamond property. During his two years at The Immigrant Room, Wangard made extensive use of the hotel's cheese locker, which housed more than 45 regional cheeses. Visits to local dairy farms and cheesemakers instilled in Wangard a fond appreciation for the meticulous technique used in making cheeses. Today Wangard serves as a Chef Ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

In late 2004, Wangard and his wife Kelly moved west for the opportunity to work with Loews Hotels. Taking the reins in the kitchen in the newly opened Ocean and Vine Restaurant, Wangard brought a fresh approach to American cuisine to match the restaurant's casually elegant setting. He enjoyed weekly visits to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market to seek out the freshest ingredients and develop new menu items. Ocean and Vine's famed Fondue and High Society Cheese flight reflect his Wisconsin roots and his passion for cheese.

Today Wangard leads the culinary operations at Marisol, a new “Farm-to-Table” inspired restaurant at the Cliffs Resort, in Shell Beach, California. Wangard taps in to his childhood memories by using local ingredients creating a unique approach to farm to table cuisine for the central coast restaurant scene.Wangard currently uses over 30 local farmers througout the seasons, and has relationships with local ranchers, foragers, and fishermen.

When he's not in the kitchen, Gregg can be found playing basketball, tennis or running after his wife who is a marathon runner.Wangard also loves all sports, and is a huge Green Bay Packer Fan.Chef Gregg and Chef Kelly live in Paso Robles with their two children Elle(7), Mason(4), yellow lab Libby(5), and cat CoCo Cali(2).

Biography provided by Marisol at the Cliffs Resort