The management at the Portola Hotel & Spa is thrilled to announce the addition of Peter B’s Head Brewer, Justin Rivard, Executive Chef, Danny Abbruzzese and Director of Food & Beverage, Brian Hein. Each bringing their own individual experience, these three gentlemen bring a wealth of knowledge and passion to the Food & Beverage Operations at the Portola. We took a moment to ask each of them a few questions to get to know them better.
Peter B’s Head Brewer, Justin Rivard
- What was the first beer you ever brewed and how did it taste?
The first beer I ever brewed was a German Kolsch in high school. It was from a kit, and it was absolutely fantastic. Subsequent other batches weren’t nearly as good, but I’m pretty persistent.
- What is your favorite beer style?
My favorite beer style- what a tough thing to ask a brewer! If I could only choose one style, it would have to be IPA, simply because there is so much variety. Pilsner is a close second.
Justin pictured from his time as an Assistant Brewer at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company with Duncan Williams (Head Brewer) and Mike Bardallis (other Assistant Brewer in background).
- When you are not brewing what are your favorite activities or hobbies?
I love the outdoors. Hiking, camping, climbing, and kayaking. I also spin vinyl, and read a lot. Thrifting as well.
- If you could have a brew with anyone (living or deceased) who would it be?
Sam Calagione, Randy Mosher, or one of the historic head brewers from Bass or Allsopp. George Washington definitely comes to mind as well!
Executive Chef, Danny Abbruzzese
- What inspired your career in the culinary arts?
My mom, hands down. She let a 4 year old on the stove and it’s been a love affair ever since.
- What is your most memorable cooking experience in your career to date?
Wow, there are too many to mention. After pondering there is a tie:
-Assisting Chef Thomas Keller at the Masters of Food and Wine back in 1998. This was my first introduction to California Cuisine
-Hosting the Vail concert series and witnessing a full orchestra playing on the roof top of Colorado was awe inspiring and will live in my memory for a life time
Chef Danny Abbruzzese at Cooking For Solutions Event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- When you are not in the kitchen what are your favorite activities or hobbies?
My little baby Makai, family, and friends.
I am a basketball junkie and ready to step on the court at any time. I wore all white Jordans at my wedding and I still can’t believe my wife let it happen.
Mother Nature and music are also very close to my heart.
- If you could cook a meal with anyone (living or deceased) who would it be?
My friend and mentor, local chef Brian Curry, may he rest in peace (2010).
Director of Food & Beverage, Brian Hein
- How did you get started in hospitality?
I started in hospitality working for Fullerton Marriott as a Night Auditor for three years, a friend in the industry recommended this would be a terrific first step in the industry
- What is the most memorable experience in your career to date?
My most memorable experience to date was the day Florence Fabricant of the NY Times reviewed our restaurant-Roy’s New York and described our young wait staff as one of the best trained New York had ever seen.
- When you are not in the office what are your favorite activities or hobbies?
My hobbies include my incredible five children, playing golf and tennis, and biking all over the Monterey Peninsula.
- If you could have dinner with anyone (living or deceased) who would it be?
I would love to have dinner with Julia Childs; I hear she was incredibly witty and intellectual.
We invite you to experience enhanced menus at both Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, as well as Peter B’s Brewpub. And with lots of tricks up his sleeve, make sure to stop by Peter B’s to taste some of Justin’s new brews. With this new team the possibilities are endless and this is just the beginning…join us at the Portola Hotel Spa and experience the best of the best.