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.
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.”
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.
COAST Chef de Cuisine
Raised in Washington State, Chef Jennifer Backman grew up in the beautiful surroundings of the Pacific Northwest. Deciding to come east to follow her passion and study culinary arts, she discovered the charms of New England while studying for her degree at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. After graduation, she decided to stay in Rhode Island.
That tentative commitment has become an 18-year journey, with jobs in some of Rhode Island’s most celebrated kitchens. Most recently, Jennifer served as Executive Chef at Spicer Mansion and, prior to that, Weekapaug Inn – Ocean House’s sister resort. Before the Inn, she was promoted to Executive Sous Chef in January 2012 at Ocean House after joining the staff as Sous Chef of Seasons restaurant when it opened in 2010.
Prior to her roles with the Ocean House Management Collection, Jennifer spent five years at Castle Hill Inn in Newport; before that she had sous chef duties in the kitchen of the century-old Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington. Taken with the beauty of the coast and the wonderful sources for fresh food, she’s now content to call New England her home.
“I want to create a truly memorable encounter for our diners by preparing the freshest, most precious ingredients our area has to offer, presented in a way that they have not yet experienced,” says Jennifer. “I encourage our guests to immerse themselves in their senses, while indulging in the beauty of each moments’ preparation, course by course.”
While the location of her kitchen has changed over the years, and her responsibilities have increased, Jennifer retains her strong belief in using the freshest and finest local ingredients, creating unique, seasonally inspired menus that offer an unforgettable dining experience in Ocean House’s brand new fine-dining restaurant, COAST.
EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF