From our flagship, Madison's restaurant, to the Wine Garden and Grill Room--as well as Four65 Woodfired Bistro and the Banquet Team-- Old Edwards Hospitality is known for some of the best locally-sourced dining in Western North Carolina. Our culinary team handcrafts each dish with farm-fresh, 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.
Born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina, Chef Christopher Huerta’s passion for food stems from watching his Grandmother prepare traditional southern dishes. At the age of 15 he took his first job in a local coffee shop and bakery
ry where he was responsible for all the daily baking. In 2000 at the age of 17 Chris was given an amazing opportunity to work with renowned Chef, Guenter Seeger as a prep cook. Chef Seeger partnered with The Garrett Hotel Group to open Seeger’s at The Willcox, in one of Aiken’s Historic Hotels. Under Chef Seeger’s direction Chris embraced his passion for cooking and developed a wealth of culinary knowledge, skill and discipline. It was here he learned the emphasis of cooking with only the finest and freshest ingredients. During his time working under Chef Seeger, Chris was given the opportunity to spend two summers working for the Garrett Hotel Groups famed Relais & Châteaux’s, Lake Placid Lodge and The Point in the Adirondacks of New York where he worked his way through all aspects of the kitchen. Working for these boutique hotels furthered his interest in guest awareness of the quality of food that they are receiving. In 2004 Chris moved to Atlanta to work and train directly under Guenter Seeger in his Mobil Five Star, AAA Five Diamond, Relais & Châteaux’s flagship restaurant, Seeger’s. Chris found his experience working for Guenter to be life changing. When Seeger’s closed its doors in 2006, Chris discovered the beautiful mountains of Highlands, NC. He took on the position of Sous Chef at Madison’s Restaurant at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. When joined a couple of years later by Executive Chef Johannes Klapdohr, their respective philosophies and techniques grew stronger and became a unified vision. In 2011, Chef Huerta and Chef Klapdohr 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 upon Klapdohr’s departure in November 2015. Chef Huerta is passionate about carefully crafting all aspects of the dining experience, beginning with agricultural practices and carrying through to the presentation and guest experience.
Chef de Cuisine
John grew up in Franklin, North Carolina, but always felt that food would be a good way to experience more of the world. After earning an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales in Charlotte, he worked many years in
in downtown Charlotte and Asheville before returning home 8 years ago. John worked his way from the bottom up—from dishwasher, to line cook, to station cook and beyond… all the while letting his passion for food guide him. He loves connecting people to history through food and its origins, and it shows in each dish he creates.
Executive Banquet Chef
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.”
Executive Pastry Chef
While Alyssa was born in Rhode Island, she has extended family near Highlands. After spending her younger years in the Southwest, her parents 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”.
Food & Beverage Director
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— 465 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.
Restaurant Operations Manager
Kathryn Raponi, also known as Katie by her friends and family, 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 caught the hospitality bug. She looks forward to the years to come and cannot wait to see you in Madison’s and The Wine Garden!
After years of service at Sea Island’s Cloister hotel, Evan heeded the mountain’s calling after many weekends spent in the area. He finally decided to call Highlands home in 2019. Evan strives to provide guests of Old Edwards Inn with the
the finest of dining experiences. Beginning his dining career at Chick-fil-A instilled a very strong work ethic and a sincere wish to deliver the best customer service possible.
Originally from Birmingham, AL, Trevor gained most of his fine dining experience while working for Cypress Restaurant and Il Lusso in Tallahassee, Florida. A certified Sommelier, Trevor is passionate about the stories and people that are
behind the wine in the glass. He focuses on showcasing producers with great stories who are also true stewards of the land they farm. Beyond wine, Trevor loves exploring the natural beauty of Highlands with his wife and two dogs.
Raised in Haywood County, NC, Jay has worked in hospitality—mostly in the kitchen—for 33 years. Not surprising since his mother began teaching him to cook at age 5. By age 9, he was often responsible for preparing dinner. Jay’s first job as
job as a dishwasher came at 14 and, by 15, he was working as a cook. While he grew up in the south, Jay spent a year in Spain and clearly remembers the night that the flavors and textures of a plate of fried squid changed the way he thought about food. Appalachian cuisine has become a specialty for this classically trained chef, but he enjoys cooking foods of all types. Jay has worked for four-diamond resorts, exclusive private clubs, small & large restaurants, and even spent four seasons at a theme park. These include The Grove Park Inn, Amelia Island Plantation, Cedar Creek Club, Trillium Links and served as the Executive Chef at Balsam Mountain Preserve for 3 years.
Native to North Carolina, Nicole Struble has always found herself at home in the mountains. The more open space and fewer crowds is what she loves most about Highlands. Nicole began her adventure in the food service industry back in 2010
and took a few years off to operate an organic farm and raise rainbow trout. After 4 years of playing in the dirt, Nicole returned to restaurant life and she feels like her vision has come full circle. When Nicole is not on a hiking trail, or spending time outdoors, you can find her in Four65 serving fresh Neapolitan pizzas with a smile!
The Farm and Gardens
Director of Farms
A fourth-generation farmer, originally from Madison Wisconsin, the Highlands area has been drawing him back since he first visited in May 2018. An avid outdoorsman, Matthew called in for this interview from the trail and enjoys the
opportunities that Western North Carolina offers to backpack, canoe, and even hunt. After spending a couple of years in dangerous jobs, Matt and his wife, Kali, began farming for themselves. When Kali was accepted into a doctoral program in neuroscience at Georgia State University, they moved to Georgia and started a small community supported agriculture (CSA) farm—turns out—just down the street from Serenbe, a mixed use community in Palmetto, Georgia that focuses on balancing development with conservation. The organization asked Matthew to join their team as the manager in 2016. In addition to delivering to Atlanta eateries and running the 25-acre Serenbe Farms, he also worked with 15-20 chefs in the Serenbe’s four restaurants. He joined the Old Edward family in 2019 and now helps Chef Chris Huerta raise produce for the needs of guests and locals alike. “There are so many ways to touch people through food. One of the best aspects is the direct connection made when one works towards feeding a neighbor, working toward a cause outside themselves.” It is this sense of purpose that has molded Matthew’s efforts as he created an experience-driven CSA farm and garden at GlenCove. Matthew says he is especially passionate about is “how disconnected most people are when it comes to where their food comes from” and he wants to change that.