Under the direction of Vice President of Food and Beverage Alison Bybee, the F&B team includes Executive Chef Jason Johnston, Director of Beverage Ricardo Murcia, Executive Pastry Chef Sylvain Bortolini, Director of Restaurants Valentin Mihail and Director of Food and Beverage Stephane Hainaut. Collectively, this team boasts more than 90 years of industry experience at some of the world's most renowned resorts and restaurants. The group will work alongside and collaborate with more than 1,100 F&B employees as positions continue to be filled prior to the resort's fourth quarter opening.
The culinary team will leverage resources in the region to further enhance the resort's offerings, including a partnership with Stratford University and Prince George's Community College to hire culinary talent and working with local farmers and vendors to procure fresh products.
Jason Johnston, Executive Chef
With more than 29 years of experience, Johnston will provide executive leadership and management for the property's culinary team overseeing food preparation and presentation as well as the development of menus, recipes and flavor profiles. Before joining MGM National Harbor, Johnston held positions in prominent hotels including the Pierre Hotel and Roosevelt Hotel. He quickly rose to the top as executive chef at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, Calif. where he oversaw five upscale restaurants along with F&B operations for 8,000 square feet of meeting space. In 2011 Jason joined Bellagio as executive sous chef, where he managed the resort's extensive F&B program and a team of more than 800. Always community focused, Johnston led his Bellagio team in preparing 150,000 meals for local school children for the non-profit organization Three Square Food Bank.
Ricardo Murcia, Director of Beverage
Murcia brings world-class mixology and leadership to MGM National Harbor, curating the property's beverage program with approachable, on-trend cocktails and drinks tailored to fit each venue. Murcia has risen quickly through the ranks in some of the finest hotels and restaurants in South America, Central America and the United States. As Bleu Bar Manager at Fountainebleu Resorts, he led the bar to be nominated as Best Bar in 2010 by both Miami Herald and New York Times. He recently served as Bellagio's property mixologist and used innovative techniques to craft widely celebrated cocktail menus for Lago by Julian Serrano, Harvest by Roy Ellamar and Petrossian Bar.
Sylvain Bortolini, Executive Pastry Chef
As executive pastry chef, Bortolini is in command of developing the pastry, dessert and chocolate creations for the resort's restaurants, room service and catering operations. His passion for pastries has carried him across the globe, from his native country of France to Mexico and the United States – allowing him to work in Michelin-starred restaurants such as La Bastide Saint Antoine and L'Auberge de la Bonne Route. In 2005, he moved to Mexico City to train under Executive Pastry Chef Jean Marie Auboine at the Hotel Presidente Intercontinental where he was quickly promoted to assistant pastry chef and responsible for pastry production for six restaurants and the hotel's extensive banquet program. Sylvain previously served as executive pastry chef at Bellagio and directed a team of 70 employees in producing more than 15,000 pastries a day.
Valentin Mihail, Director of Restaurants
As director of restaurants, Mihail will be responsible for the day- to-day operations of the resort's diverse lineup of restaurants. Prior to joining the team, he served as general manager at Olives in Bellagio where he was recognized with a Supervisor in the Spotlight Award for his stellar service. Originally from Bucharest, Romania, Mihail graduated from Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He brings more than 22 years of industry experience, working in luxury establishments such as Boca Raton Resort & Club.
Stephane Hainaut, Director of Food and Beverage
Hainaut boasts more than two decades of success leading multi-outlet, multi-million-dollar food and beverage operations, luxury gaming and non-gaming resorts in Paris, New York, Biloxi and Miami Beach. At MGM National Harbor, Hainaut will oversee the property's restaurants, bars, lounges, catering and banquets along with National Market's operations. He holds a bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and has extensive knowledge of the food and beverage industry. Before joining MGM National Harbor, Hainaut served as Director of Food and Beverage at Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The newest addition to the MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) portfolio, MGM National Harbor's unrivaled setting offers stunning panoramic views of the eastern shore of the Potomac River in Maryland. The $1.3 billion resort sits a short distance from Washington, D.C. to the north and historic sites, including George Washington's Mount Vernon estate across the river in Virginia. The 24-story, 308-room resort will feature premier amenities and experiences for locals as well as visitors from around the world including a dynamic casino with over 125,000 square feet of space that includes slots, table games and poker; a world-class spa and salon; an entertainment theater with flexible seating for up to 3,000; high-end branded retail; 27,000 square feet of meeting space; and restaurants from renowned local, national and international chefs. MGM National Harbor is slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2016.