FOOD & WINE
Lou Rossi, Executive Chef
Growing up in a predominately Italian household, Executive Chef Lou Rossi learned at an early age to appreciate food as a centerpiece of daily life. Lou began his culinary career at eight years old standing on milk crates, peeling carrots and onions at his parent's restaurant. Coming from two generations of restaurateurs, Lou had no doubts about his future when he applied to the New England Culinary Institute.
During his schooling, Lou worked as a culinary intern at Castle Hill. After graduating with his degree in Culinary Arts, Lou moved to Manhattan to work at Thomas Keller's 3 Michelin Star restaurant, Per Se. Although it was an incredible and humbling experience, Lou missed his time in Newport and he eventually returned to Castle Hill in 2009 to work with Chef Hart where he plays an integral part of the property's culinary ethos, and can usually be found in Castle Hill's own gardens, gathering items for that evening's meal.
Shawn Westhoven, Beverage Curator
Shawn Westhoven carefully selects only those beers, wines, and cocktails that best complement our menu and concept. He sources his spirits from local brewers, vineyards and distillers whenever possible and changes them seasonally to help create a genuine, unique guest experience that cannot be enjoyed elsewhere. Shawn also introduced and leads an extensive educational and training program for employees who want to be certified as wine experts. Shawn holds a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales and a hospitality degree from Ohio State University. He lives in Newport, Rhode Island with his wife Alison.
Karsten Hart, Director of Restaurants
A student of different cultures, Chef Hart enjoys an international view of cooking and readily embraces different approaches and flavors. Inspired at an early age by his mother’s cooking, Karsten grew up in Louisiana in a melting pot of cultural influences, with German and Italian parents who loved to cook. Karsten’s first cooking jobs were in small, Cajun-style and Italian restaurants, but he learned the most working in a Chinese eatery on the wok station. He is a strong proponent of cooking with ingredients unique to the area and combining classic technique with original ideas.
Brian Young, Managing Director
An international resort specialist and ultra-luxury hospitality industry veteran, Brian Young was appointed Managing Director of the Castle Hill Inn in July 2012. Young moved to join Castle Hill and the Newport Harbor Corporation from Bermuda, where he was Managing Director of Rosewood Tucker’s Point, the destination’s first new luxury resort in almost forty years.
Before relocating overseas, he was Vice President of Operations for The Sea Island Company in March 2007, and held this position until July 2009. Young was responsible for all aspects of the company’s resort operations, and led a team of over 1100 employees to achieve what no other resort in the United States has been able to accomplish – four Mobil (now Forbes) five star awards for The Cloister, The Cloister Spa, The Georgian Room Restaurant at The Cloister, and The Lodge – a total of twenty stars for Sea Island Resorts.
Prior to his Sea Island appointment, Young served as Vice-President, Operations for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts. He was responsible for the company’s resort hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico, California, and Florida, based out of the company’s corporate office in Dallas. He joined Rosewood in 1999 as Managing Director of Caneel Bay Resort, St. John, USVI, the iconic 166-room, 171-acre destination luxury resort in the Virgin Islands National Park, founded by Laurance Rockefeller in 1956.
A Canadian citizen, Young was General Manager of the deluxe Metropolitan Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, from 1995-1999. During his tenure, he and his team opened “Diva at the Met”, which quickly became recognized by both Gourmet Magazine and the Zagat Guide as Vancouver’s top restaurant. Young also served as General Manager of the 98 room deluxe Cap Juluca resort on Anguilla, British West Indies, from 1992-1995. Young began his hospitality career with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in 1977 and spent fifteen years with the company, in Canada, the United States, and the West Indies, where he opened the Caribbean’s first AAA five diamond resort, The Four Seasons Resort Nevis.
Mr. Young has taken an active industry role throughout his career. He has served as President of the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association and the Vancouver Hotel Association, and as a board member of the Caribbean Hotel Association, the Bermuda Hotel Association, the Brunswick and the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association. From 2001-2009, Young was an Executive Coach for Cornell University Hotel School’s Leadership Development Program. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Christina Mercado, Executive Pastry Chef
A native New Yorker, Chef Christina Mercado brings an international perspective to the pastry arts, having studied in Peru, Singapore and Thailand. Pairing herbs, spices and liqueurs with the area¹s local bounty has become her signature. In her downtime, Christina trades in her chef’s tools for a camera, documenting her many travels.