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    Our Chefs and Team

    Let Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and his team of tastemakers take you on a culinary journey that will please the palate and entice the senses. This rare collaboration of culinary excellence brings global influences, seasonal offerings and menus as dramatic and memorable as the restaurant’s oceanfront setting.

    Chef Bernard Guillas in the Marine Room kitchen

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    EXECUTIVE CHEF BERNARD GUILLAS

    Maître Cuisiniers de France and award-winning chef Bernard Guillas joined La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Inc. as Executive Chef in June 1994. In addition to The Marine Room, Guillas is responsible for directing the resort’s other two restaurants, including The Shores Restaurant, and catering operations for the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club and La Jolla Shores Hotel.

    Guillas, no stranger to classic tradition, insists, “a good cook is a sorcerer who dispenses happiness on a plate.” Born into a family of butchers, bakers, and restaurateurs, Guillas’ Britannic upbringing was influenced by his daily exposure to fine cuisine. He began his formal training in 1978, at Le Bretagne Restaurant in Questembert, France, where he apprenticed with the legendary Georges Paineau. 

    Over the next six years he expanded his culinary knowledge with several Maîtres Cuisinier de France fine dining restaurants. Jumping continents, Guillas moved on to become chef de cuisine at Le Dolmen in French Guyana. Richly diverse South American flavors still influence his food today. 

    Recently, Guillas authored his second cookbook, Two Chefs One Catch: A Culinary Exploration of Seafood, with co-author and Chef de Cuisine of The Marine Room, Ron Oliver. This is a follow up to their first self-published cookbook, Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World.  Flying Pans was named a Top 10 Cookbook in America at Book Expo America 2010 and awarded IACP’s Best Cookbook in America – People’s Choice 2011. Guillas' continuing television appearances added to his roster; he was recently featured on the Today Show and is a regular guest chef on the KTLA morning show in Los Angeles, plus many local news segments throughout the year. 

    Chef Guillas promotes sustainability and plays an active role in supporting his local community. He regularly participates in Mama’s Kitchen, Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation fund-raiser for hunger relief, the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, annual guest chef for Celebrities Cook for Cancer, a fund-raiser that benefits the University of California San Diego Cancer Center. Guillas is also the chef spokesman for the Macy’s School of Cooking where he shares his passion for the culinary arts. He travels extensively throughout the world promoting his restaurants and the San Diego region.

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    CHEF DE CUISINE THOMAS CONNOLLY

    Chef Thomas Connolly has brought his extensive experience and passion to The Marine Room’s culinary team as Chef de Cuisine in October, 2018. Originally from Boston, his culinary training began while he was in high school, working in a busy seafood house. Even while cleaning pots, pans and scrubbing the hot fryers, Tom began to hear the call of a lifelong career in the kitchen.

    As he made his way out of dishwashing and onto the hot line, he quickly learned to embrace the orchestrated chaos of restaurant life. While his love of kitchen life continued to grow, Tom moved on to a position with the Hyatt Harborside in Boston, where he was able to begin to fine tune his culinary skills and learn more about what he calls the “focused side of cuisine”.

    Tom moved out west to San Diego where he worked in a number of restaurants, including The Kensington Grill, Chive and Lila’s. While working under the leadership of Chefs Hanis Cavin and Henry Freidank, Chef Connolly learned a great deal about the San Diego restaurant scene that would bring him back years later.

    Before leaving Southern California, Tom also experienced a short stint at Lila’s Restaurant in La Jolla prior to its closing. It was the work he did in that short amount of time that inspired Tom more than anything else in his career. He describes his time there as his “first true experience with utilizing fresh local, seasonal products. Chef Dancer’s focus and flavor combinations changed the way I was to look at food from then on.”

    Chef Connolly headed north to San Francisco at the end of 2000 to join the Moana Restaurant Group and run the kitchen at Paragon Restaurant. Another pivotal point his career, Chef describes his experience in the Bay Area as formative in the creation of his own personal cooking style: “Working side by side with renowned chefs like Maximilian DiMare and Spencer O’Meara, I began my own creative process. Through diligence and hard work I began to notice more opportunities opening up. I was offered advancement within Moana, to spearhead the opening of the newest Paragon in San Jose’s historic Hotel Montgomery as opening Executive Chef.” With Tom at the helm, Paragon San Jose earned the title of “Best New Restaurant of San Jose”.

    Constantly working to improve and hone his culinary repertoire, Chef then moved to the Island of Kauai, at the Plantation Gardens Restaurant, where he learned to fuse Asian flavors with European technique; experience that further influenced his personal culinary style.

    Tom moved to the Pacific Northwest to take on the role of Executive Chef at Piatti Restaurant in Seattle, WA. He says that “it was here that I set out to make direct relationships with the local farmers. I developed a farm-to-table menu, constructed from local ingredients, sourced at local farmer’s markets, as well as from a small greenhouse I constructed within the restaurant.”

    Finally back in his adopted home of San Diego, Tom brought the knowledge accumulated from his diverse culinary background into the kitchen at Stone World Bistro & Gardens. During his 4 years, he transformed thebeer-centricStone Brewing Co. into a culinary destination. Elevating the traditional ‘bar food’ mentality into fine dining fare for upwards of 2000 diners per day.

    Chef Connolly has also been hard at work giving back to local and national charities; American Liver Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and The Ronald McDonald House.

    Matt

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    DIRECTOR OF FOOD AND BEVERAGE MATT CAPONI

    Matt Caponi celebrates 11 years with the team and now oversees food and beverage for both The Marine Room and La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. With nearly 20 years of experience, Matt strives to make every visit feel like a special occasion from the moment you walk through the doors.

    Caponi’s hospitality career began at age 13 while working at a small New Jersey Italian restaurant. Caponi’s passion for the restaurant industry grew while he worked as a bartender and server at a number of restaurants throughout his schooling. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications, he moved from Boston to San Diego where his career continued to grow.

    Matt brings with him a high level of professionalism and expertise. He has been an active member of the San Diego Restaurant Association since 2010 and served as President of the San Diego chapter in 2017. Matt has completed and passed his Level 1 certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and plans to one day take the Certified Sommelier exam.

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    MAÎTRE D' DIMITRIOS PAPADOPOULOS

    For more than 17 years Dimitrios “Dimi” Papadopoulos’ warm inviting demeanor has been an essential component of The Marine Room experience. To many regular guests, Dimi is like family.

    Papadopoulos has dedicated his life to providing superior customer service. He has worked all over the world including Athens, Paris and New York resulting in a wealth of knowledge and a passion for excellence.

    Dimi was recognized by his peers in June 2013 when he was awarded the Gold Medallion for Front of House Excellence by the California Restaurant Association San Diego County chapter. The Marine Room is exceptionally proud to have Dimi as part of our team.