Old Edwards Inn, Highlands, NC

Chris Huerta Old Edwards Inn

Chef Chris Huerta

Born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina, Chef Christopher Huerta’s passion for food stems from watching his Grandmother prepare traditional southern dishes. At the age of 15 he took his first job in a local coffee shop and bakery where he was responsible for all the daily baking. In 2000 at the age of 17 Chris was given an amazing opportunity to work with renowned Chef, Guenter Seeger as a prep cook. Chef Seeger partnered with The Garrett Hotel Group to open Seeger’s at The Willcox, in one of Aiken’s Historic Hotels.

Under Chef Seeger’s direction Chris embraced his passion for cooking and developed a wealth of culinary knowledge, skill and discipline. It was here he learned the emphasis of cooking with only the finest and freshest ingredients. During his time working under Chef Seeger, Chris was given the opportunity to spend two summers working for the Garrett Hotel Groups famed Relais & Châteaux’s, Lake Placid Lodge and The Point in the Adirondacks of New York where he worked his way through all aspects of the kitchen. Working for these boutique hotels furthered his interest in guest awareness of the quality of food that they are receiving.

In 2004 Chris moved to Atlanta to work and train directly under Guenter Seeger in his Mobil Five Star, AAA Five Diamond, Relais & Châteaux’s flagship restaurant, Seeger’s. Chris found his experience working for Guenter to be life changing.

When Seeger’s closed its doors in 2006, Chris discovered the beautiful mountains of Highlands, NC. He took on the position of Sous Chef at Madison’s Restaurant at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. When joined a couple of years later by Executive Chef Johannes Klapdohr, their respective philosophies and techniques grew stronger and became a unified vision. In 2011, Chef Huerta and Chef Klapdohr started Madison’s Organic Garden at The Farm at Old Edwards. Chef Huerta was promoted to Chef de Cuisine shortly after, and then to Executive Chef of Old Edwards Hospitality Group upon Klapdohr’s departure in November 2015.

Chef Huerta is passionate about carefully crafting all aspects of the dining experience, beginning with agricultural practices and carrying through to the presentation and guest experience.
Michael Searles Old Edwards Inn

Mixologist Michael Searles

January 12, 2016 (Highlands, NC) As part of its continued commitment to elevating the cocktail culture and experience for guests, Old Edwards Hospitality Group announces the appointment of Michael Searles as beverage manager. An accomplished veteran of the cocktail industry, Michael’s career includes positions at Holeman and Finch, Restaurant Eugene and—most recently—Southern Proper Hospitality in Buckhead, Atlanta.

Michael will develop menus, concepts and creative strategies, mentor and train staff, oversee bar functionality and design, and ensure delivery of a personalized guest experience at Old Edwards venues, including Madison’s Restaurant and Wine Garden, Hummingbird Lounge and Art’s at the Lodge.

Michael says, “I love an environment that is ripe for growth and innovation but also steeped in the classic techniques for creating a superior cocktail. Old Edwards has a discriminating clientele. They also have a culinary program that thrives on locally grown ingredients from their gardens and greenhouses in Highlands. The opportunity to cultivate a cocktail program that complements and enhances this— and to deliver an experience for guests that appreciate something beyond the ordinary—is an intriguing venture. And doing it all amid the spectacular beauty of Highlands, North Carolina, makes it even more gratifying.”

Old Edwards General Manager Jack Austin says, “Experiential, sensory design must be woven into every aspect of the guest environment. Today’s travelers are cultured, global citizens with educated, sophisticated palates. They are entrusting us with their precious travel and leisure time, and their expectations are high. We must stay constantly vigilant, curious, innovative and relentless in anticipating the desires of each guest— and settle for nothing less than delighting them at every turn. Michael Searles’ passion, intuitive service mentality and innate grasp of today’s cocktail culture will help fuel the success of this at Old Edwards.”