Meet the Back of House Team (the one’s that feed you):
We at Nirvana Grille are dedicated to creating food that is not only good for you but also delicious! Meet the team that stands alongside Chef & Owner Lindsay that make the masterful dishes that fill the menus at both Nirvana Grille locations:
Executive Chef/ Co-Owner of Nirvana Grille
Born and raised in Laguna Beach, sisters Summer, Danielle, and Lindsay were all brought up by mother Vicki, father Michael, and stepfather Ken. Vicki, an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Naturopathic Doctor in Laguna Beach for the last 20 years, Ken, the owner of Island Soap & Candle Works for the last 15 years & president of Orange County’s Heidi’s Frogen Yozurt for over 10 years and Michael, a landscape gardener in Laguna Beach for 20 years, now an American Indian Art & Antiquities dealer for the last 15 years in Santa Fe, NM, were all an integral part of raising the family to be health conscience vegetarians and are equally commended for raising 3 independent, strong willed and driven daughters. Among all culinary mentors, Lindsay has been inspired by her Mother Vicki who created the love and passion for food growing up that Chef Lindsay now embraces. While not knowing at such a young age what an impact her influence would later take on Lindsay’s life, the words, raw, organic, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and juicing, were an integral part in the Smith/Stern households. While these terms are commonly used today, they were rarely heard while growing up by the general population. Stepfather, Ken, taught the girls, stability, financial responsibility, business sense, and to not forget to have fun in the process. His influence continues to be a sounding board of rationality and encouragement for Chef Lindsay. Father, Michael, was a driving force in her continued high expectations of herself, the restaurants, and the individuals behind the restaurants. His influence on always going above and beyond expectations, leaving things better than you find them, and the true sense of entrepreneurship have forever impacted Lindsay’s life beginning with the inception of Nirvana Catering. Lindsay decided at the age of 18 to try her skill in culinary arts at Orange Coast College. After she got a taste of the industry, she was hooked and went on to work in catering for Fox Studios, Universal Studios and Cienega Catering in Los Angeles, as well as in Orange County with Five Feet, Creme de la Cream, Sherman Gardens and lastly with Pascal Olhats, which she would later take her first kitchen position as his line cook. Working alongside the admired French Chef, Lindsay gained insight at what running a restaurant, market & specialty shop could be like. During the same time, she accepted the most important job in her career at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Not only was this where husband Luis and her met, it was also where she fine tuned her skill in all aspects of the Hospitality industry working not only in the pastry and culinary kitchens, but as well as in the front of the house in the restaurants, event planning and reservations. As Smith-Rosales’ explorations take her to new heights and she gains knowledge of different culinary approaches, and techniques, new & old, the menu at Nirvana Grille changes not only with the seasons, but also with her culinary inspirations, executed with the help and support of her Nirvana family.
Diego Abel Rosales
Chef in Training
As the Laguna Beach location was gearing up to open its doors, Chef Lindsay was 4 months pregnant with her son to be Diego. Born July 8th, 2008, one day prior to the Pageant of the Masters opening, this Chef in Training, has literally grown up within both restaurants and is a key component to Lindsay & Luis’s vision of Bliss. At just a month old, Diego began dining and spending time in the restaurant. Now at the age of 4, he can be seen dining amongst the guests, taste testing the kid’s menu selections, greeting guests, coloring at the host stand with Danny, Summer, or Sophie and with mom in the kitchen (with well washed hands), watching the expo line and garnishing plates. Thus far he has helped (telling the staff how to) do inventory, walking the floors of the dining room as maitre d’hôtel, and assisted in working alongside mom in the kitchen. Diego loves to help in the kitchen and we shall see if he grows into head dishwasher and prep cook throughout the next few years!
Sous Chef in Laguna Beach
In September of 2011, Ernesto stepped into the role of Sous Chef in Laguna Beach, after Juan Flores (Sous Chef Francisco’s brother) moved back to Mexico after 4 years of Sous Chef in Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo. Ernesto’s career spans more than 20 years in Food & Beverage working at the likes of Mastro’s, 333 Waterfront, Native Foods, and Mama Gina’s for over 17 years alone. Ernesto has a very good grasp on healthful cooking, gluten-free and vegan sensitivities, and he appreciates and understands Chef Lindsay’s culinary goals and passions for Nirvana Grille. He is a proud husband and father of three beautiful children. His biggest passions include cooking and learning new cooking techniques, which is followed by basketball. He also loves to fix vintage cars, specifically muscle cars.
Sous Chef in Mission Viejo
Francisco is 28 years old and has been in the hospitality industry for 15 years in the Orange County area, 6 of which he has served as Sous Chef of Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach. Francisco was the original sous chef working side by side with Chef Lindsay from the day of inception in Mission Viejo, and clearly understands the path that Nirvana Grille has transitioned to over the years, and continues to grow within the restaurant. Other restaurants that he has been affiliated with in his illustrious career in hospitality are The Cottage, Sorrento Grille ( now where 370 Common occupies), 230 Forrest, and the former Partner’s Bistro. His passions outside of the kitchen are sports, specifically football, and not American Football.
Meet our Front of House Management Team:
Greeting you and getting to know you, the management team running the operations allows us to focus on guest experience by supporting all our staff and fine tuning the subtle nuances that make a dining experience great overseen by Chef Lindsay & Husband Owner Luis Rosales.
Operator of Mission Viejo & Owner of Nirvana Grille
Luis Fernando Rosales was born in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico by his Mother and Father of 7 Boys. Growing up in Mexico, soccer was a huge part of the family’s lives and as a teen Luis went as far as semi-professional in a club team. After frustrations of not being able to be in the game enough, he decided to move on and join family in the US in 1989 and has been in the restaurant/hospitality industry ever since. After working with The Dana Point Marriott Seacliff Resort, The St. Regis resort, The Montage Resort Laguna Beach, and for 15 years as a dedicated server at The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, where he and Lindsay met. Luis has continually expanded his knowledge and experience working at high end hotels and restaurants by assertively focusing on the true meaning behind customer service as well as increasing his knowledge of wine while at many hotel properties through integrative wine training. As a supportive partner in Nirvana Grille, Luis is the laughter and industry vet that holds the front and back of the house family at Nirvana Grille together running the day to day operations.
General Manager of Laguna Beach
“Danny” as known by most, has worked in and around Laguna Beach for the past 2 decades. Most recognized by locals as the former General Manager of Hush Restaurant in Laguna Beach, as well as General Manager/Partner of Ecco in Costa Mesa for the last year, his recent addition to the Laguna Beach Nirvana Family in February, 2012 as GM was an exciting transition for all in running the day to day operations with Lindsay & Luis. Danny’s experience over the last 30 years in the restaurant industry only provides the team the ability to grow and develop the brand in new ways. His cult like clientele following, paired with his passion for food, wine and customer service not only is a perfect fit, has formed a natural bond with the Nirvana team from the get go. The Ownership at Nirvana Grille looks forward to many years with Danny’s support and industry insights leading their team.
Administrative & Catering Assistant
Sophie has been in and around the food service industry her entire life. Daughter of executive Chef Georges Rapicault, from the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, and Juana Rapicault, Housekeeping Supervisor at The Pelican Hill, attends the University of California, Irvine. Her parents have both worked in the food service industry for more than 20 years, meeting in the kitchen at The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. Having grown up with a culinary background, Sophie’s passion and interest in her work is a great asset. When not working, Sophie loves to spend time with her 3 year old son, Adan.
Meet Those That Will Be Serving You:
These are the staff members that you already have or will begin to familiarize yourself with and that serve you time and again. Made up from a great array of backgrounds and passions, our staff is filled with driven individuals that embrace making every experience one to remember! Please let your servers know what they can do to make your experience more enjoyable…. we are here to serve YOU!
- Danielle Tarango – Lindsay’s Older Sister & Interior/Event/Floral Designer in Laguna Beach with Nirvana Grille for 6 years
- Enrique Zarate- From Montage Hotel as a seasoned Server with Nirvana Grille for 8 Months
- Jim Barrack- Former Horticulturalist, Server & Sales Person with Nirvana Grille for 1 year
- Ruben Arellanes – Former Montage Hotel Server
- Shelby Smith- From Disney as Customer Relations, Service and HR with Nirvana Grille for 5+ years
- Saul Suarez- with Nirvana Grille oncall and now Full Time 4 years
- Alejandro Castellanos
- David Gomez
- Soledad Garcia