Old Edwards Inn and Spa
[Skip to Content]Privacy Policy
Relais & Chateaux
Call us today
Book a room
  • Search

Meet the Culinary Team of Old Edwards Inn and Spa

Madison's restaurant is known for some of the best locally-sourced dining in Western North Carolina. Our culinary team hand crafts each dish with farm-to-table, sustainable ingredients from our own gardens and greenhouses to bring out the season's most vibrant flavors. With a mind for elevated, classic southern cuisine, we strive to bring together the best of what North Carolina and other regional producers throughout the southeast have to offer, and produce a unique yet unpretentious dining experience.

Chris Huerta

Executive Chef
In 2006, Chef Chris Huerta discovered the mountains of Highlands, NC when he first joined Old Edwards Inn and Spa in the position of Sous Chef at Madison's Restaurant. In 2011, Chef Huerta and the former chef started Madison's Organic Garden at The Farm at Old Edwards. Chris was promoted to Chef de Cuisine shortly after, and then to Executive Chef of Old Edwards Hospitality Group in November 2015. 
Chris Huerta

Peter Wood

Executive Sous Chef
Coming Soon
Peter Wood

Vinzenz Aschbacher

Executive Pastry Chef
Aschbacher is a stickler for quality and the nuances of an ingredient. He regularly sources cinnamon from Saigon, pumpkin seeds from Austria, chocolate from Belgium, and vanilla from Tahiti. Vinzenz brings talents and philosophies that blend well with the culinary program at Old Edwards. It's all about starting with fresh, sustainable ingredients, using classical methods and proven flavor profiles, and then adding interesting twists to keep things fresh and new for the luxury traveler's palate. Chef Aschbacher joined Old Edwards Inn and Spa in September of 2014 and has brought a new dimension to Old Edwards' restaurants, banquet and catering facilities.
Vinzenz Aschbacher

Thomas Keenan

Food & Beverage Director

Originally hailing from Donacarney, Ireland, Director of Food and Beverage Thomas Keenan has been apart of the Old Edwards family for nine years. As a part of the J-1 International internship program, Thomas started at Old Edwards in 2009. In November of 2011, he was offered the Food and Beverage Manager position, and promoted to Director in 2013. Thomas received his Bachelors in the Art of Hospitality Management from Dundalk Institute of Technology, and graduated with a grade two merit and second in his class. Thomas enjoys exploring beautiful downtown Highlands with his dog Thaddeus.

Thomas Keenan

Sophie Delany

Assistant Food and Beverage Director
Coming Soon

James Blyther

Restaurant Manager
James Blyther comes to the Old Edwards with twenty-one years of food and beverage experience. Before James made his voyage to Highlands, North Carolina, he was born in London England, raised and educated in Yorkshire and he completed his studies on the south coast of England. At a young age, James started work for Forte Hotels where he found he had a knack for hospitality, but it was not until he moved to the south coast town of Bournemouth that he found a passion for bartending and mixology. Throughout his time with Old Edwards Inn and Spa he has been a key instrument in opening three separate venues, and has now occupied four distinct management positions. The best part of hospitality for James is the interaction with many different people including guests and work colleagues; especially the culinary team. Nothing makes him happier than when he sees the look of satisfaction on a guest's face when his team has pulled together to create a captivating experience.
James Blyther

Philippe Brainos

Sommelier
Philippe Brainos was born in Marseille, France and raised in Paris and Cannes. At age 22, he moved to Chicago to pursue his studies in international marketing at Northwestern University and Industrial Management Institute. He then lived and worked in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt before opening a restaurant in Paris. In 1987, he returned with his family to the US and settled in Durham, NC. He has since opened many successful restaurants and worked in a wide range of hospitality venues. In 2016, he moved to Highlands to work as Sommelier at Madison's Restaurant at           Old Edwards.
Philippe Brainos

Brian Fletcher

Farm Manager

Brian Fletcher comes to Old Edwards Inn and Spa from Lake Lure, North Carolina, where he owned and operated a farm, raising rainbow trout and growing fresh produce. As an accomplished farmer and veteran chef, Brian's career as a former Executive Chef and owner/operator of several farms, including Cornell University's research farm, provides Old Edwards with the ability to continue the cultivation of its property-wide culinary and green initiatives. Brian looks forward to implanting new techniques and tried-and-true practices to grow Old Edwards garden and greenhouses with the overall goal of making the property fully sustainable.