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.
Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage
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
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, 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’ famous 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.
Executive Resort Sous Chef
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
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.”
Assistant Director of Food & Beverage
Will Araujo grew up in Highlands and began his hospitality career at Old Edwards as a part-time summer Pool and Spa Attendant in 2010. While working to save for college, he discovered his passion for hospitality and began to look for ways to grow within the
company. He demonstrated his passions and talents while working in front desk operations as Bell Captain for two seasons. From there, he was accepted to the Manager in Training (MIT) program, having garnered many guest accolades and much praise from upper management for his warmth, people skills and calm, competent demeanor. After successfully completing the MIT program, Will accepted a position in Madison’s Restaurant as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager. While in the food and beverage program, he spent time in leadership at The Grill Room at Old Edwards Club, Banquets, and Four65 Woodfire Bistro + Bar. In 2021, he assumed the role of Banquet Manager where he also excelled. Soon after, Will was promoted to Assistant Food and Beverage Director for Old Edwards. During his time at Old Edwards, Will married his wife Kendra Araujo and they now have two children, Jonah and Juliette Araujo.
Restaurant Operations Manager
Sarah, a native of Aiken, SC, moved here in 2019. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in hospitality. She has been in the industry since graduating in 2005, working through every position in a restaurant from server to
general manager. Sarah came to Old Edwards Inn in search of a company to grow with in the mountains of WNC and is happy to have found her home in such a beautiful and encouraging environment. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys reading, cooking, and exploring the area with her family.
Jared’s wine journey took a unique path. While living in Nashville and performing as a touring musician he needed a side gig to help pay bills. Jared quickly grew fond of hospitality and, in time, noticed that wine became more fascinating than his drums. He
dove in headfirst and still finds it an exciting world in which to work. It was a love of geography that drew him to wine specifically. The idea that a sense of place produces such variation in a resulting wine is fascinating and he loves being taken to a particular part of the globe vicariously through what's in the glass. Jared believes that wine is an art form and not a commodity. As wine lovers, we owe it to the vignerons and winemakers to respect their craft and treat their wines as an ode to the beautiful environments from which they were born. Therefore, It is his hope that guests resonate most with Madison’s selections from small, family-run wineries.
He gravitates toward wines from cool climates and feels that their freshness and acidity bring a zest to the palate that contrasts well with rich, savory offerings from the kitchen ---especially favoring the versatile Burgundy and the Loire Valley wines. Above all, however, he feels the best wine pairings offer to complement and contrast simultaneously. He values any chance to help guests discover for themselves exactly what this means and looks forward to assembling a wine list that complements the culinary team’s modern take on classic Appalachian dishes.
At age 17, John began his restaurant career working as a dishwasher. From there he began training in preparation and was quickly promoted to cook. He then gained experience in multiple areas, working in fine dining and catering, setting up large events,
waiting tables and bartending. But the mainstay of his career has been cooking and management. John’s style has mostly been influenced by southern fun and comfort foods while cooking for family and friends. He enjoys the friendly family atmosphere at Four65 and appreciates the team's creative input—from making the daily side dish, to inventing specials that he can be proud of. He spends spare time cooking special meals with his daughter or just relaxing with his kids.
Full of adventure, Mitch — a Florida native — joins us after climbing the mountains of colorful Colorado. A frequent visitor to Western North Carolina for the past 15 years, Mitch as been interested in seeing where his wife grew up. With their four children in
tow, they enjoy hiking, fishing, and swimming in the river. His service industry career started straight out of school with the most notable being hired on as part of the opening team at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. During his tenure with Universal Orlando, he worked in multiple locations and met with unique and interesting leaders. He later joined the team at Bubba Gump Shrimp in Orlando where he was the General Manager of a high-volume, fast-paced restaurant for 10 years. Bubba’s is where he really refined his skills regarding guest service and creating memorable dining experiences for everyone! Longing to continue their adventure and travel with their youngest son, Mitch and his family moved out West to Morrison, CO where he continued his restaurant career as the General Manager of the Bubba Gump’s in downtown Denver. Only being an hour away from some of the best snow in Colorado Mitch and his family enjoyed skiing, hiking & camping for the next four years. After their time in Colorado, they decided to move closer to family here in beautiful Highlands! Mitch joined the Old Edwards family in August of 2020 as a manager at Madison’s and then soon after became the Operation’s manager at Four65. He looks forward to making your visit a memorable one.
Assistant Operations Manager
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Celine grew up in Germany. Her frequent family trips took her to Greece, Italy, Spain, and the United States). She realized that she enjoyed staying in different locations, making new memories, and meeting people from different
backgrounds and with different life stories. After finishing High School, Celine sought work as an intern in a boutique hotel in beautiful and diverse Brighton and it encouraged a love for hospitality. Enrolled in a private hospitality school in Bavaria, Germany, she studied to become a hotel economist. In her second year, Celine found her way to Old Edwards Inn to complete a J1 internship at Madison’s Restaurant and Wine Garden. She considers it one of the best years of her life so far! While finishing her studies back home, she worked part-time in banquet departments all around Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Once she had almost 4 years of experience in different fields of Food and Beverage, Celine was able to refine her skills in guest service. She focused on making unique guest experiences in as many different locations as possible. After earning her bachelor’s degree in hospitality management at the end of 2020, she joined Old Edwards Hospitality Group once again—this time as a supervisor at Four65. Celine says that she loves Four65 for giving her a work family. The warm atmosphere welcomes guests as long-time friends and makes it easy to create fun dining experiences. When she isn’t working, Celine enjoys sports, hanging out with friends, and discovering new places in this beautiful area.
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 began farming for himself. He moved to Georgia and helped start 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.