Born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina, Chef Huerta developed his passion for food while watching his Grandmother prepare traditional southern dishes. At the age of 15 he took his first culinary job as a baker in a local coffee shop and bakery. Chris discovered the beautiful mountains of Highlands, NC in 2006. He took on the position of Sous Chef at Madison's Restaurant at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. In 2011, Chef Huerta co-started Madison's Organic Garden at The Farm at Old Edwards. Chef Huerta was promoted to Chef de Cuisine shortly after, and then to Executive Chef of Old Edwards Hospitality Group in November 2015. Chris is passionate about carefully crafting all aspects of the dining experience, beginning with agricultural practices and carrying through to the presentation and guest experience.
John grew up in Franklin, North Carolina and started out washing dishes at the age of fourteen. He has been in a kitchen ever since. Following a calling, John earned his associates of Culinary Arts degree from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. He worked many years for downtown eateries in Charlotte and Asheville before relocating to Highlands. Over the past eight years, Madison's has been honored to witness his rise to Chef de Cuisine. His love of connecting people, cultures and history with their food and its origins goes hand-in-hand with the restaurant's own ethos.
As part of an Air Force family, Daniel was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but lived a somewhat nomadic life as a child. His family settled in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for his high school years and upon graduating, Daniel enlisted and spent 4 years in the Marine Corps with a combat tour in Afghanistan. Following his Marine service, Daniel relocated to Florida where he attended culinary school at Keiser University. After graduating in 2016, he joined Old Edwards as an intern and went on to become a full-time team member. Daniel took his passion for food to heart and as a result received several promotions in short order—including Sous Chef at Madison's and Executive Chef for banquets. He says, " I believe you can never stop learning in the culinary field. I am always striving to learn new things and look for ways to improve. Everyone enjoys a good meal and the thing I love most about working in this industry is how good food can bring people together."
While Alyssa was born in Rhode Island, she has extended family near Highlands. After spending her younger years in the Southwest, her family moved to North Carolina when she was ten. After high school, Alyssa attended AB Tech in Asheville, where she earned her degree in Baking and Pastry. She was already part of the Old Edwards team, working as a turndown attendant prior to moving away to college. However, she has always loved working in restaurants and appreciates the atmosphere of a busy kitchen. She was a server consistently for 10 years while working at other places like Biltmore House as a wine server. She returned to old Edwards in 2014 as a Baking and Pastry intern for the summer and once she graduated school, returned again to work with Madison's then Executive Pastry Chef, Vinzenz Aschbacher. Alyssa says, "I love everything about baking/cooking so it is hard to pick one thing, but I take joy in making items for people to enjoy with their family and helping create memories for them to share".
Originally hailing from Donacarney, Ireland, Food and Beverage Director Thomas Keenan, honed his skills at Irish establishments such as the D Hotel, Crowne Plaza, and the luxurious Merrion Hotel. Thomas has now been a part of the Old Edwards' family for ten years and during that time he has revamped and improved all manner of food and beverage-related details for the resort; ranging from small touches like seasonal arrival cocktails to overseeing large projects like the expansion of the banquet kitchen at The Farm. Continuing to show his natural talent in organizational food service, Thomas is currently serving an integral role in planning Old Edwards' newest food venture— Four65 Bistro. Whether involving the simplest snack or the most intricate special event, Thomas finds joy in making memorable experiences a reality for guests of Old Edwards.
Kathryn is a Florida native who comes to Highlands by way of Madrid, Spain. After studying at The University of Central Florida, Kathryn worked in client services at a branding agency in Orlando representing resorts, restaurants and retailers across the nation. Adding to her past front of house and wine distribution experience, her passion for food and wine grew deeper during her year abroad. A yearning for fresh air, a slower pace of life and international culture on this side of the pond, however, brought her to Highlands and Old Edwards. After working with the Inn's diverse team to create long lasting memories for guests over the past two years, Kathryn has definitely caught the hospitality bug. She looks forward to the years to come and can't wait to see you in Madison's and The Wine Garden!
Matthew was raised on his parents and grandparents' large-scale vegetable farms, still in operation today. As a young adult, Matthew moved to Bozeman, Montana to get away from farm life, but he is happy with the path his life has taken. After all, he met his wife, Kali, in Montana. After spending a couple of years in other jobs and farming on the side, Matt and Kali left Montana and bought their first farm in De Soto, WI. When Kali was expecting their second child, they decided to move back to Kali's hometown in Georgia—for a better climate and a better economy for farmers, with year-round growing opportunities. She was a neuroscience major that had just been accepted into a doctoral program at Georgia State University, but soon decided that life on a farm beat life in a lab and joined Matthew on the farm.
A fourth-generation farmer from Madison Wisconsin, Matthew has been drawn to the Highlands area since his first visit. "We had been looking for a vacation home in North Georgia for the past couple of years. Then we found Highlands. This area offers amazing mountain views and access to the wilderness that's hard to find in this part of the country." An avid outdoorsman, Matthew called in for this interview from the trail. He enjoys the opportunities that Western North Carolina offers to backpack, canoe, and even hunt. "My family has always hunted to fill their freezer with natural meats… for subsistence."
Passing on his knowledge to the next generation has always been a priority in Matt's community farm work. "Farmer Matt" says he is especially passionate about reconnecting people to where their food comes from and the joy they can get from growing it themselves.