Meet The Chefs
Meet the Ocean House Chefs
The culinary team at Ocean House features talented Chefs, from around the country with a shared goal of achieving excellence and perfecting their craft. Each of our chefs, with their own unique background, tells a story through food with an emphasis on local ingredients and seasonality. Click the arrows below to learn more about some of the gifted team members that make dining at Ocean House truly special.
Growing up in Madison, Connecticut, John Kolesar was always hanging aroubd the kitchen. With his grandparents always creating something special for the family to enjoy, he knew at a young age that the culinary field would be his calling.
While attending Johnson & Wales in both Miami and Providence, Chef John was able to refine his culinary skills while developing a love for the business of running a kitchen: designing menus, creating unique bistro-inspired dishes, costing out recipes and managing a team of professionals.
Appointed Executive Chef of Ocean House in December 2011, after serving as Executive Sous Chef since the summer of 2010, Chef John brings more than 10 years experience at world-class restaurants and catering companies. Prior to joining the Ocean House team, he worked as executive chef for the Rhode Island Center for Performing Arts where he was accountable for food preparation and daily operations for a 1,200-seat theater and 300-seat nightclub. He also worked as the Executive Chef at Chester House Catering and Amalfi Restaurant & Catering.
At Ocean House, Chef John is responsible for overseeing all culinary operations, including its five fine and casual dining restaurants. Managing a kitchen of more than 40 workers, he finds being the Executive Chef both challenging and rewarding.
“At the end of the night, when the ovens and gas are turned off and I’m doing my order, I look back on the day,” he says. “All I can do is smile and be thankful – thankful for having the opportunity to lead an extraordinary group of young Chefs that wow hundreds of people each day.”
Awards and Accolades
Voted Caterer of the Year in 2006 by
Rhode Island Hospitality and Tourism.
Originally from Madison, CT
Banquet Sous Chef
Ask Banquet Sous Chef Jose Pabon about food, and the first word out of his mouth is “steak.”
“When I think about opening my own restaurant someday, all I think about is steak and sandwiches,” he says. “When I find a good sandwich, it just puts a smile on my face.”
Born in Puerto Rico, Chef Jose first set foot in the United States at age 8 when his family moved to North Kingstown. He knew almost no English. But he quickly picked up the language and took a job as a dishwasher at the age of 15.
He says he never had any desire to be a chef, but after watching the rhythm of the kitchen from day to day, “I guess it kind of intrigued me.”
Prior to joining Ocean House’s culinary team as a Line Cook in April 2012, Chef Jose spent eight years at Cedars Steakhouse at Foxwoods Resort & Casino. He also worked briefly at Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse in Lincoln and more recently at David Burke’s Prime. After working as a Grill Cook and leader of Ocean House’s Bistro line, he was promoted to Bistro Sous Chef. In 2015, he switched gears again and took on the role of Banquet Sous Chef.
When asked what motivates him most, he replies:
“When someone gets a plate from me, I want them to be like, ‘Wow!’ Like I painted a picture on their plate. At the end of the day I not only strive to make our guests happy – I want to wow myself.”
Chef de Cuisine
Jacob Jasinski began working in restaurants during high school. He spent time in several restaurants in the Providence area before heading west to the Rocky Mountains, and later, Tucson, Arizona, where he worked as a personal chef.
Eager to learn more, Jacob bought a French Michelin Guide and emailed every Michelin star restaurant until a chef in the Rhone Valley invited him to work and stay for several months at his hotel. He left for Europe, working at Domaine de Clairefontaine near Lyons, France, and then briefly at Osteria da Fiore in Venice. Along the way, he visited numerous markets and other restaurants, trying to absorb as much European as he could.
After returning to the United States, Jacob cooked at Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, which at the time was one of only twelve Five-Star restaurants in the U.S. He left for Kennebunkport’s White Barn Inn and, a year later took his first head chef position at the Salt Exchange Restaurant in Portland, Maine, where he was exposed to an entirely different side of the industry. There, he not only ran his own kitchen, but also experienced the many challenges of running a business.
Wanting to return to a more refined cooking style, Jacob moved on to Joël Robuchon at The Mansion MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he learned the standards necessary to manage and succeed in a Three-Star Michelin restaurant.
Back on the East Coast, Chef Jacob spent two years at Newport’s Castle Hill Inn, another Relais Châteaux property. And in early 2014, he joined Ocean House, as Chef de Cuisine in Seasons. Of this latest challenge, he says:
“My objective is to create an experience that conveys a sense of place in a classic restaurant setting utilizing all the ingredients the area has to offer at their peak freshness.”
PM Sous Chef
Chef William’s culinary journey began at a local pizza place in his hometown. Like many other chefs with humble beginnings, he quickly realized that cooking was something he wanted to pursue as a career. After working his way up through the ranks, he moved on to Bistro 9 in East Greenwich. William’s hard work didn’t go unnoticed, and after a short time he was promoted to Sous Chef.
His desire to expand his culinary knowledge led him to Tucker’s Bistro in Newport. There, he was introduced to classic French fine dining. After only four months in Newport, he was invited to Paris, where he worked with American chef–and dear friend–Kevin O’Donnell at L’Office. The quaint French-American bistro opened his eyes to a food culture that he’d never seen before.
Reluctantly, William returned to Rhode Island where he began working at The Mooring in Newport, and then nearby Castle Hill Inn, a Forbes Four-Star hotel, where he met Chef Jacob Jasinksi. After working alongside Chef Jacob for six months, William moved on to Boston, where he was introduced to the world of charcuterie and Italian cuisine before joining Ocean House in the spring of 2015 as Line Cook. He became Sous Chef in the summer of 2015 and has played an integral role in advancing the culinary program at the resort.
Bistro Sous Chef
Chef Alex Benson acquired an interest in culinary arts at a very young age. Growing up on a dairy farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York, he developed a strong enthusiasm for the connection between food and farm, something he would take with him later in life.
After graduating from Paul Smith’s College, he moved into restaurants, although it was not until Chef Alex began working at Relais & Châteaux property, Lake Placid Lodge, that he developed an interest in fine dining. After working at three different Relais & Châteaux properties, Chef Alex landed at Ocean House as the Bistro Sous Chef in May, 2016.
At Ocean House, Chef Alex takes his love of farm-to-table dining to a new level, always expanding his knowledge of how different produce grows and pushing for an increasingly seasonal menu. One of his favorite sayings is, “healthy soil makes happy chefs.” With expert guidance from the Ocean House Food Forager, Chef Alex consistently looks for ways to take advantage of the best local flavors. Employing a “clean and simple” cooking philosophy, Chef Alex makes a point of highlighting flavors that are few but powerful, creating a well thought out dish that is both flavorful and approachable for guests.
Executive Pastry Chef
Chef Oralia Perez developed a passion for art and baking at a young age. Born in Mexico and raised in Orange County, California, she fondly recalls spending hours in the kitchen helping her grandmother prepare baked apples, quince paste and other artfully crafted treats. Therefore, it seems only natural Oralia selected a career field that combined her love of art and baking.
“Becoming a pastry chef allowed me the opportunity to create edible art,” she explains.
Oralia received her Associate of Science in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of Orange County. Prior to joining Ocean House’s talented culinary team in 2016, she worked as Executive Pastry Chef at the SLS Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she produced cakes, gelatos, ice creams and other decadent desserts for its extensive collection of restaurants.
A seasoned traveler, Oralia also worked as a pastry chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston, the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida and other prominent hotel and casinos throughout Las Vegas, including Caesars Palace.
Despite her experience working in some of the most famous, bustling cities across the United States, the peaceful village of Watch Hill had one thing those other cities did not – a triple five-star Relais & Châteaux resort called Ocean House.
“I came to Westerly, Rhode Island because it’s where Ocean House is located,” she says matter-of-factly. “There is only one Ocean House, and neither Boston nor Las Vegas has it.”
While Oralia enjoys all aspects of pastry making, creating personalized dessert amenities and holiday offerings rank among her favorites.
“I’m excited and looking forward to showcasing my work to all our guests. I’m also very happy to be part of a passionate group of chefs that work together to create amazing food.”
Completed Pastry Seminars
• “Chocolatier Art” with Pastry Chef Ramon Morato
• “The Art of Airbrushing” with Stéphane Tréand, Meilleur Ouvrier de France
• “Tartes, Goûter and Entremets” with Stéphane Glacier, Meilleur Ouvrier de France
• “Innovative Techniques for Entremets and Tarts” with Olivier Bajard, World Pastry Champion and Meilleur Ouvrier de France
Growing up in the small farming community of Colchester, Connecticut, Chef Paul McComiskey developed an interest in cooking at a young age. His culinary career began at 14 when he took a job as a dishwasher at a summer camp, and after showing a keen interest of food, was quickly promoted to prep cook. Early on he came to understand the importance of serving fresh, wholesome food; he recognized that food could not only feed the body but also fuel the soul. This realization kick-started the pursuit of his culinary dreams, and by the time he was 21, Chef Paul had taken every food-related opportunity that crossed his path, working in diners, pizza kitchens, casinos, fish markets, small cafes–even at a slaughterhouse.
His varied background earned him his first position as a chef, running the kitchen at the Williamantic Brewing Company and main Street Café in Connecticut. There, he developed strong ties to the community, working with local breweries and restaurants to expand a beer dinner program and starting a charitable guest chef program that benefited nearby soup kitchens, schools and community organizations.
Chef Paul’s passion for local and seasonal cuisine heightened when he joined the Altnaveigh Inn and Restaurant in Storrs, Connecticut, as the chef de cuisine. Later became a Sous Chef at Weekapaug Inn where, under the expert guidance of Chef Jennifer Backman, he learned the art of hospitality. In March 2015 he moved to Ocean House Food Forager. Paul’s unconventional culinary training and his rise from home cook to sous chef made him an obvious choice for the position. At Ocean House he is able to create relationships with local purveyors, seek out the freshest local flavors and practice and teach his own food and cooking philosophies.