Artisans in Residence

THE FARMHOUSEArtisans in Residence

Culinary trends come and go, yet we remain humble to food’s ability to nourish, delight, celebrate, feel and heal.

We choose to partner only with those who employ responsible farming practices; sustainability is fundamental, not a luxury. The very best artisans, products, farmers, and naturally grown ingredients play a critical role in all realms of our culinary program. Our regular contributors to Farmhouse experiences from classes, demonstrations and other educational opportunities are directed by our incredibly talented team of Artisans. Specializing in specific epicurean skills, they share their passion and individual crafts with our guests. Meet some of our resort artisans who share in our core values and serve as the foundation of both the Farmhouse and the Ojai Valley Inn's culinary offerings.

Execuetive Chef, Rachel Wiener

Rachel Wiener’s culinary journey began during her childhood, where her love of food was nurtured by her Hungarian and Indian parents. Inspired by these rich culinary traditions and bold flavors, she embarked on a path that led her to pursue a formal culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Florida, following her graduation from Michigan State University in Nutrition.

Prior to joining the team at Ojai Valley Inn, Chef Rachel rose quickly through some of the nation’s top kitchens, including Jean Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill at St. Regis Deer Valley; Montage Healdsburg; and most recently Montage Big Sky; where her creativity and culinary expertise were instrumental in shaping the prestigious resort’s dining offerings.

At Ojai Valley Inn, she will spearhead culinary programming across the lauded resort’s restaurants and culinary events venue, The Farmhouse, as well as in-room dining menus and rotating seasonal offerings.

a woman smiling at camera

Executive Pastry Chef, Jordan Pilarski

With nearly a decade of pastry experience, The Johnson & Wales graduate spent five years with Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island and Bacara before joining the team at Santa Barbara’s Alessia Patisserie and Cafe.

A regular contestant and guest judge on The Food Network, Pilarski most recently won the head-to-head Pastry Episode of “Alex vs. America, Season 2” featuring acclaimed Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, the third season of its annual “Spring Baking Championship,” and served as judge on the first and second seasons of the “Christmas Cookie Challenge.”

Pilarski brings a distinct culinary voice to Ojai Valley Inn with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and traditional French pastry techniques. He will spearhead the pastry programming across the lauded resort’s restaurants and culinary event venue, The Farmhouse, as well as in-room dining menus and rotating seasonal offerings.

a man wearing a striped apron

Chef de Cuisine & Culinary Director of Restaurants, Andrew Foskey

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Andrew Foskey found his calling to cuisine when he was in grade school, fascinated by the different techniques utilized by chefs on the Discovery Channel program, "Great Chefs of the World." His interest continued to grow while he worked for his uncle's catering company as a teenager, learning the ins and outs of the culinary world, solidifying his belief that cooking was truly his passion in life. This revelation led him to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Following graduation, Chef Foskey remained in Charlotte, developing his skills with some of the city’s most renowned chefs including Jon Fortes, Tommy Dyrness, and Sam Diminic of the Harper’s Restaurant Group. The next five years presented Andrew with many versatile opportunities to serve as Sous Chef and Executive Sous Chef at Hilton Hotels, premier catering companies, and luxury private country clubs in order to expand his knowledge within all aspects of the industry.

Chef Foskey joined the Inn’s culinary team in 2015 as Sous Chef and quickly became an indispensable asset to the resort, bringing his exquisite palate and creativity to everything he touched. In November 2018, he was named Chef de Cuisine of Olivella, a role that allowed him to delight guests with his refined, contemporary cuisine that highlights the area’s incredible local bounty. In October 2020, Andrew Foskey was appointed Culinary Director of Restaurants, overseeing the development, programming, and operations of all restaurants at the resort.

view of the half of the body of a Ojai young chef

Resort Chef, Didier Lenders

Didier Lenders has served as the Resort Chef at Ojai Valley Inn since 2008. With over 40 years of culinary experience, and an impressive resume to tout, his knowledge and passion for French-inspired cuisine is inimitable. Didier earned his culinary marks in France, where he graduated from L’Ecole Hotelliere de Paris and held apprenticeships under Dodin Bouffant, Gilbert Le Coze, and Gérard Pangau and trained at La Tour d’Argent and Fauchon.

Throughout his culinary career, Didier has held executive chef positions at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Pilar, and Meadowood in Napa Valley.

Ojai chef wearing glasses sitting and smiling straight to the camera

Director of Food & Beverage, Melissa Lamb

Melissa Lamb serves as the Director of Restaurants at Ojai Valley Inn overseeing operations at The Farmhouse. Her passion for the industry became a profession in 2012 when she assumed the role of Auction Director for the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas. From there, her focus turned toward hospitality where she took on various buying positions for both small independent establishments and larger corporate restaurants.

As our resident wine and beverage expert, Melissa is not only responsible for developing our beverage program but also creating engaging wine, beer and spirits tastings and events. The ever-evolving beverage landscape of new producers, new products and new trends keeps Melissa on her toes and fuels her fervor for the business. The Farmhouse represents an opportunity for Melissa to partner with noteworthy personalities of the beverage universe and deliver unique, world-class experiences.

Melissa is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators.

Well dressed woman smiling and holding a glass of red wine looking straight to the camera

Culinary Gardener, Scott Daigre

Scott Daigre is an author, garden designer, educator, marketing consultant, event producer, and public speaker. He spent most of his young life in Louisiana then moved to the west coast to start his professional career.

After various marketing and production positions failed to provide the same energy he felt while in the garden he made a major career shift in 1995 and went to work at the most exciting and trending nursery in Los Angeles. He leapt head-long into the garden industry as he advanced at the nursery, becoming public relations director, garden designer and garden educator.

He’s led garden tours around the world, spoken at this country’s most influential spring garden shows and designs landscapes throughout Southern California through his company, Powerplant Garden Design.

He also owns and produces Tomatomania, a springtime event he helped build at the nursery that changed his life’s direction. Since 1999 the event has been held in 5 states and 25 cities, exciting home gardeners each spring via a series of unique pop up garden events. In an article on a Connecticut Tomatomania! Even the New York Times called him “A garden designer-turned the Dale Carnegie of tomatophiles.”

Introduced to Ojai during his very first visit to California, he’s grateful to have landed in this special place after years in Los Angeles. Scott now lives in Ojai’s Upper Valley with his partner Sam, a couple of energetic Australian shepherds and a growing flock of doves and chickens. And of course, a huge garden.

Elderly man looking and smiling straight to the camera in a garden

Master Miller, Philip Asquith

Philip Asquith is the current head of the Ojai Olive Oil Company, a third generation family farm, and producer of world class extra virgin olive oils. Ojai Olive Oil crafts it's oils in a traditional and artisanal manner, using hard harvested olives from groves of ancient Mediterranean varietals, and selecting only the very best unfiltered oils to blend and bottle. The company has been the recipient of over 50 first place and blue ribbon honors from all of the most recognized local, national, and international competitions, and Mr. Asquith honored as one of the nation’s few Master Millers.

Ojai Olive Oil and the Asquith family farm is located in a beautiful nook of the Ojai Valley’s “East-End”, and is home to a heritage grove of olive trees that have been producing olive oil since the mid 1850s. The farm is also organic permaculture operation, committed to not just creating the very best quality, but doing it in a way that is responsible, sustainable, and ethical. Working continually to be a positive member of the community, and set a good example for others to learn from is a big part of the family’s vision and operations. The farm offers daily tour & tasting experiences to visitors, where people can learn everything there is to know about olive oil, visit a working farm, and peruse all of the year’s oils and related products.

Guy in the middle of the nature looking straight to the camera