Alila Napa Valley Appoints Thomas Lents as Culinary Director
Alila Napa Valley, the premiere luxury retreat tucked into the heart of Northern California's wine country, is pleased to announce the appointment of Chef Thomas Lents as Culinary Director. In this role, Lents will oversee all food and beverage outlets at Alila Napa Valley, providing strategic direction to the property's culinary team and outlets including its signature restaurant, Acacia House, in-room dining and food and beverage program for meetings and events.
Award-winning Chef Lents joins Alila Napa Valley with over 20 years of world-class culinary expertise and a deep understanding of luxury hospitality. Most recently serving as the Culinary Director for the Aparium Hotel Group, Lents oversaw the culinary operations for 11 hotels and 23 separate outlets. He joined Aparium Group as the opening Executive Chef for the Detroit Foundation Hotel, Apparatus Room and Chef's Table. He also served as the executive chef of Sixteen, receiving two Michelin stars, five-diamonds from AAA, five-stars from the Forbes Travel Guide, four-stars from Chicago Tribune, and four-stars from Chicago Magazine.
As a first order of business at Alila Napa Valley, Chef Lents is developing the new menu and concept at the hotel's signature restaurant, Acacia House. Under his helm, guests can expect a menu that features bold flavors with fresh ingredients, showcasing the essence of Napa Valley through locally and seasonally sourced fare. New menu highlights include diver scallops roasted in their shell and served with sunchoke compote and apples harvested directly from the resort's garden; Tenbrink Farms' heirloom tomato and melon salad with makrut lime, nepatila mint and hazelnut; and Liberty Farms duck breast with salt roasted kohlrabi and fig compote. Lents will also oversee the culinary concept at the soon-to-open Terrace Lounge Bar, a gathering place for guests and St. Helena locals to enjoy light and fresh seafood fare and specialty cocktails.
"We are delighted to welcome Thomas to the Alila Napa Valley family," said General Manager Heidi Miersemann. "Thomas brings a wealth of leadership, expertise and passion to this role, and we are so thrilled to see the culinary development of Alila Napa Valley's future projects and the mentoring of our culinary teams."
Lents joins the Alila Napa Valley team with a repertoire including leadership at the Michelin two-star rated Thornton Restaurant inside the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, the Michelin three-star Waterside Inn in Bray, and serving as chef de cuisine of Joel Robuchon's namesake restaurant, making Lents the first American to be hired for a chef position by Robuchon. Lents was a finalist for the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence in 2014, and a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Foundation award for "Best Chef: Great Lakes" in 2015. Originally from Battle Creek, Michigan, Lents holds an advanced placement culinary art degree from the New England Culinary Institute, as well as a B.A. in philosophy from Wabash College in Indiana.