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 seasonal Rhode Island dining. Read the culinary chef bios below to learn more about some of the gifted team members that make dining at Ocean House truly special.
Director of Culinary Education/Food Forager
New England born and raised Chef Ryan leads all culinary education efforts and works with local farms to source the freshest ingredients for Ocean House. He brings several years of experience from prior roles, and his goal is to make the Center for Wine & Culinary Arts the greatest culinary center in the country.
Banquet Sous Chef
Ask Banquet Sous Chef José 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 José 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 José spent eight years at Cedars Steakhouse & Oyster Bar 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 for his culinary chef bio 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.”
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 and focus on Rhode Island dining.
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 of 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 moment’s 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. You can experience Jennifer’s menus, and an unforgettable dining experience, at our COAST Restaurant.
EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF