Hayato Okamitsu C.C.C.
Born just outside Tokyo, Chef Hayato Okamitsu grew up in a quiet suburb of Japan learning to cook from his mother. After completing culinary school he went to work at the Hilton hotel in Tokyo, where he completed his apprenticeship. One night after work in 1999 Hayato saw ‘Battle Potato’ on Iron Chef, with the challenger being Canada’s own, Michael Noble. He was so inspired by the Canadian’s talent, Hayato packed his knives and headed to Vancouver. Once there, Hayato landed a job with Noble at Diva at the Met restaurant and worked with him for two and a half years, until he moved to Calgary to open Catch Restaurant, and Hayato went with him. After
Six years later, Hayato Okamitsu became Executive Chef of Catch Restaurant and Oyster bar. February 2009, Hayato competed against Canada’s top chefs at the Gold Medal Plates competition in Banff. After three days of intense competition, including a mystery wine competition, black box event, and signature dish gala dinner, Okamitsu was crowned ‘Canada’s Best Chef’ 2009 (Canadian Culinary Champion 2009).
August 2010, Hayato Okamitsu became Culinary Instructor at SAIT in Calgary.
Hayato Okamitsu won Immigrants of Distinction Awards “Achievement Under 40” March 2013.
Chef Justin Leboe spent his early career learning in some of the most prestigious kitchens in North America – from Daniel to French Laundry to name but a few. Refining his skills throughout the US, Bermuda and Australia, Leboe’s travels and mentors helped trigger his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2008 he shook up Calgary’s food scene with the opening of Rush, which was placed on enRoute magazine’s coveted Best New Restaurant list. Realizing he needed to leave the confines of fine dining behind, he opened Model Milk in 2011; shifting his energy back to the basics – creating simple, playful comfort food. Model Milk also landed on enRoute Magazine’s list in 2011. Four years later, Leboe opened award-winning Pigeonhole in the same building; a genre-bending natural wine bar with an emphasis on premeditated veggie-focused cuisine. Also listed as enRoute’s Best New Restaurant in 2015, Pigeonhole is an extension of Leboe’s travels and need to continuously elevate Calgary’s culinary scene. Recipient of the coveted 2013 Pinnacle Award for Canadian Chef of the Year in 2013, and Canada’s 100 Best awards in 2016 for Most Innovative Chef, Leboe has helped raise the profile of Calgary as a culinary destination. His passion for the community is demonstrated through the success of Plate Swap, an annual event that brings together chefs from around the world to raise money for his charity of choice, Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids.
With culinary and cultural experiences spanning the globe, David Flegel has proven himself in some of the world’s most exciting kitchens. Hyatt Regency Calgary is proud and honored to be the new home of Executive Chef David Flegel!
Beginning his studies at the distinguished Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Flegel excelled quickly, winning a number of awards and scholarships including gold medals at the PEI Culinary Show and the Halifax Culinary Show in Nova Scotia. Flegel graduated in the top of his class in 1987 and upon graduation received his Red Seal papers.
Upon graduation Flegel returned to Alberta to begin his career right here in Calgary working under the Famed Canadian Chef Fred Zimmerman. After almost four years of honing his skills, Flegel took the opportunity of a lifetime and went international; this is when his adventure truly began.
Flegel’s career has included international postings such as Klagenfurt, Austria with a luxury boutique hotel that has been owned by the same family for over 500 years, setting sail on the Celebrity Cruise MV Horizon in San Juan, Puerto Rico cruising the Caribbean and from New York to Bermuda, carrying approximately 1,500 clients and 600 crew and staff, Brasserie Lipp in Zurich, Switzerland, Executive Chef at the World Trade Center Jakarta, Indonesia, Grand Hyatt Santiago, Chile, Grand Hyatt Jakarta, one of Hyatt International’s star hotels being able to cater to 2000 guests with banqueting and nine restaurants.
Having Been the personal chef for Her majesty Queen Elizabeth on her Royal visit to Saskatchewan and as well to Prince William and Kate in Calgary as a couple of many royalty and dignitaries he has prepared for, Flegel adds leadership and flair to Calgary’s premiere hotel destination, Hyatt Regency Calgary. As Executive Chef, Flegel oversees all aspects of the hotel’s food and beverage operations including Thomsons Restaurant, CATCH and the Oyster Bar, Sandstone Lounge, in-room dining and the hotel’s banquet food services division.
Gerald’s deep appreciation for desserts and pastries was developed at a young age with his mother’s love for baking. Born and raised in Manila, he began his culinary career working for the Shangri-La Hotel Group after studying Culinary Arts in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
At the age of 21, he moved to the States and worked for Hyatt Regency Scottsdale and Hyatt Hill Country San Antonio. Off-season, he worked in Nantucket Island eventually settling down in Calgary, Alberta.
In 2012, Gerald found his second home at the Hyatt Regency Calgary where he now works as a Pastry Sous Chef, bringing creativity and sense of pride into his thoughtful desserts.
Sabine Gradauer was born and raised in Austria and this is where she completed the culinary apprenticeship program. She found her passion for pastries 3 years later when she joined the pre-opening team of the LeMeridien Vienna.
Sabine brings 18 years of experience in the culinary field including 1 and 2 Star Michelin establishments and Hotels with large Banquet operations along with international experience in Austria, Portugal, the United States and Canada. This international experience provides her with the ability to adapt to all situations that may arise during the daily operation.
Hotel opening experience has played a big factor in her ability to incorporate new work processes and standards.
Connie DeSousa & John Jackson
Co-Chefs for life! Jackson and DeSousa’s story began at the legendary Owl’s Nest back when it was one of Calgary’s finest dining establishments. Recognizing DeSousa’s competitive spirit, Jackson worked closely with DeSousa to compete in the World Culinary Olympics in Germany, then onto the prestigious Chaîne De Rotîsseurs in South Africa.
Driven to succeed, the pair parted ways to endeavor on separate culinary journeys to develop diverse skills – DeSousa honed her butchery skills in Germany, and Jackson studied the traditional techniques of sausage making in Italy. Each staged and worked their way through many international kitchens, but most notably Jackson’s career switched gears when he was asked to open the prestigious 5-star Mobil, St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco, and he called on DeSousa to join him. While in California, DeSousa adopted the nose-to-tail, farm-to-table philosophies of the esteemed Alice Waters, as she took on extra work at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Under the Starwood name, this duo of dynamic chefs continued to expand their restaurant knowledge opening many notable restaurants throughout the world, including the Lagoon by Jean Georges in Bora Bora.
Making the decision to move back to Calgary in 2009 to open their first restaurant, the award-winning CHARCUT Roast House, was an easy one. They wanted to plant their roots in a place they could call home. Now, co-owners of 4 successful restaurants and a rapidly growing Catering and Events division – including newly opened charbar in the historic Simmons building in Calgary, brimming with character and charm, the buzzing Alley Burger walk-thru window and the stunning Rooftop Bar @Simmons – each have received numerous accolades and awards including spots on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list and EnRoute’s Best New Restaurant round-up.
You will recognize DeSousa as one of the finalists on Food Network’s Top Chef Canada or from her many media appearances. One of Canada’s most celebrated female chefs, she is recognized for her butchery skills and simple approach to food. Her empathetic, yet fierce, approach to her work allow her to stay driven and defy the odds of women in the professional kitchen.
Jackson, known as a culinary change-maker, has a creative approach to business that celebrates collaboration, community and balance. His dedication and generosity is admired by many in the industry, as he a mentor to so many young chefs and restaurant owners.
Together, this co-chef team is much more than just restaurateurs. Jackson and DeSousa support many important social issues that touch the lives of so many Canadians, using food and their combined culinary talents to create awareness and help those in need. Restaurants for Change, Terrior Symposium, Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance, Cook It Raw, Alex Community Food Centre, are a few of the culinary organizations they have supported with. As well, raising awareness for poverty in Calgary, both Connie and John are strong ambassadors for Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s Enough for All campaign. Countless speaking engagements have taken this Calgary team all over the world, representing Canada on the larger culinary stage, promoting our regional cuisine, history and culinary traditions.
Chef Michael Noble has spent the last 35 years building a remarkable career that’s involved running some of the best kitchens in Western Canada. A chef with extraordinary talent and passion, he’s also a seasoned international competitor, having participated in both the Bocuse d’Or and the World Culinary Olympics. In 2011, he was inducted into the CCFCC Honours Society.
First cast into the culinary spotlight, with the opening of Vancouver’s Diva at the Met in 1996, Chef Noble has gained the praise and respect of critics, colleagues and guests alike. With dishes like his famous Stilton cheesecake, that won GQ Magazine’s Golden Dish award in 1997, he’s well known for his uncomplicated approach to gourmet.
Now taking on the role of community leader, with his two critically acclaimed restaurants NOtaBLE and The Nash, this celebrated Chef Proprietor continues to inspire and inform the local and national food scene, while mentoring the next generation of top chefs.
Chef Ryan O’Flynn’s culinary journey began washing dishes at Hy’s Steak Loft in Edmonton. He spent several years in Alberta working his way up through the ranks before deciding to make a move overseas. Between 2000 and 2004, Chef Ryan cooked in AA Rosette rated restaurants in Ireland and South Wales, before landing a Chef de Partie position at a two Michelin-starred modern French restaurant in London.
As Chef Ryan worked his way through England and France, including two Relais & Châteaux hotels, he created innovative menus and tastings, cooked with quality, locally sourced produce, and led a number of large kitchen brigades. At just 26 years old, he was appointed Head Chef of Le Galloise, Wales’ top restaurant. At 29, Ryan was named Executive Chef of The Milestone Hotel in London, which was voted “Best Hotel in the World” by Condé Nast Traveler during his tenure.
Shortly after returning to Alberta in 2013, Chef Ryan accepted the position of Executive Chef of The Westin Edmonton, where he crafted creative and modern Canadian cuisine. In 2015, Chef Ryan took home top honours from the Canadian Culinary Championships, beating out top chefs from across the country.
With over 20 years of kitchen experience and an extensive international background, Chef Ryan is well poised to take the lead as Executive Chef of The Guild, bringing new heights of creativity, style and skill to its kitchen.