L’Auberge de Sedona announces new GM and executive chef

L’Auberge de Sedona, A Destination Hotel, the Southwest’s premier luxury resort, named five hospitality executives to leadership roles as it continues to refine its star power. Together, the team is overseeing all aspects of the property’s operations and food and beverage offerings, ensuring the highest quality experiences for which L’Auberge de Sedona is known for.

Sean Olmstead is a hospitality veteran appointed general manager of L’Auberge de Sedona where he oversees day-to-day operations, including guest relations and property development. A native of Hawaii, Olmstead graduated from the California Culinary Academy and spent the first years of his career working in restaurants in Honolulu and San Francisco. In 1998, he started with InterContinental Hotels Group, working at multiple properties across the country including the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, InterContinental San Francisco, InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile and InterContinental New York Barclay. Olmstead served in numerous management and F&B roles during his 20-year career with InterContinental Hotels Group, at one point managing more than 800 rooms and multiple departments. His more than 22 years of culinary and hospitality industry experience and constant hunger for success have led to him being honored with multiple high-profile awards and accolades for his excellence in service.  

“Sean’s experience and dedication to constant growth and development are exactly what we were looking for in a general manager for L’Auberge de Sedona,” said Jeff Toscano, executive vice president of operations for Destination Hotels. “We’re confident that his vision and passion for the overall guest experience will continue to enhance the luxury resort experience Arizona travelers have come to know and expect at L’Auberge de Sedona.”

Adding to the resort’s new executive team, seasoned food and beverage professional Franck Desplechin plays a dual role as L’Auberge de Sedona’s director of food and beverage and executive chef at signature restaurant Cress on Oak Creek – elevated prix fixe menus incorporating locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and inspired by the nature of Northern Arizona tied with French culinary techniques – and ETCH Kitchen & Bar, which serves elevated casual classics. An internationally acclaimed chef with over 18 years of culinary experience, Desplechin has plated at three Michelin-starred restaurants in France including Les Barmes de L’ours Hotel & Spa, L’Atelier and La Ville Blanche. He also held various F&B and resort leadership roles within the St. Regis brand, working at properties including The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, The St. Regis Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii and most recently, The St. Regis San Francisco, a Forbes five-star property where Desplechin was the executive chef.

“We’re very excited to bring in someone with Franck’s level of expertise and experience cooking in restaurants all around the world,” said Two Roads Hospitality Vice President of Food and Beverage Landy Labadie. “His attention to detail, creativity and passion for high-quality local ingredients coupled with his French culinary techniques complement L’Auberge de Sedona’s two distinctive creekside dining experiences.” 

Joining the team as assistant director of food and beverage, Fathi Sarsouri comes to Red Rock Country by way of Miami. Sarsouri brings more than a decade of both domestic and international experience to his role at L’Auberge de Sedona, previous holding F&B supervisor positions at Trump National Doral in Florida, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Pride of America and InterContinental Miami. He got his career start in Tunisia, Africa before relocating to the United States in 2004 to begin his restaurant management career.

Adding to a well-balanced food and beverage team is John Gapasin in the role of executive sous chef. Joining the team from The St. Regis San Francisco, Gapasin brings more than 10 years of kitchen management and dish preparation skills along with experience working at two Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco. He is responsible for supervising and coordinating the different phases of food production at Cress on Oak Creek and ETCH Kitchen & Bar, ensuring the highest quality product is delivered to guests.   

Executive Pastry Chef Morgan Gurney is responsible for all things pastry at L’Auberge de Sedona, where she develops, executes, and maintains seasonally inspired desserts and other baked goods. Gurney earned her degree in patisserie and baking from the Scottsdale location of Le Cordon Bleu in 2005 and has since worked at multiple world-class resorts and restaurants including Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Ariz. all while still making time to own and operate her own desserts business.

Lee Pioske appointed to substance abuse council

Crossroads, Inc., the largest residential substance abuse treatment program in the Southwest, is excited to announce Governor Doug Ducey has appointed our Executive Director, Lee Pioske, to the Arizona Substance Abuse Partnership (ASAP).

Mr. Pioske’s unwavering dedication to helping individuals struggling with substance abuse makes him an essential voice for advocacy in Arizona.

This statewide initiative directly recommends drug and alcohol related policies, as well as best practices for meeting the community’s needs. ASAP’s diverse membership allows for individuals of different backgrounds to be directly involved in policymaking through fostering a cooperative environment.

Mr. Pioske’s commitment to high quality and affordable substance abuse treatment will continue to guide his service to the community. He is humbled and honored to accept this position and looks forward to joining the partnership. 

“This position is an exceptional opportunity to continue to combat the increasingly worrying opioid epidemic affecting so many Arizonans,” said Pioske. “Under the Governor’s continued leadership, the partnership will help guide our state’s strategy in dealing with the crisis.”

Crossroads will continue to serve the community’s health needs by offering well crafted, successful, and affordable substance abuse treatment programs.

UA psychologist elected to National Academy of Sciences

Carol Barnes, University of Arizona Regents’ Professor of Psychology, Neurology and Neuroscience, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.  

Barnes, one of the world’s leading experts on brain aging, was one of 84 new members elected recently to the academy, along with 21 foreign associates, in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Barnes is the only new member from Arizona. 

Election to membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors a U.S. scientist or engineer can achieve. 

Barnes, who holds the UA’s Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging, is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking research on how the brain changes during the course of normal aging, and the consequences those changes have on memory and information processing. 

Driven by the philosophy that scientists cannot fully understand age-associated brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease until they understand normal brain aging, her research involves a variety of behavioral, electrophysiological and molecular biological approaches to the study of the brain. 

“Over the course of her remarkable career Dr. Barnes has reshaped our understanding of the aging brain,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins. “She continues to do cutting-edge research that is fundamental to understanding how we can live longer and healthier lives, both physically and cognitively, and she has positioned the UA to be a worldwide leader in research on long-term human wellness. Dr. Barnes is a titan in her field, and I am very proud that she is being recognized in this way.” 

“The election to the National Academy of Sciences is a great honor for me personally, especially because it indicates a scientific community-wide appreciation of the importance of understanding the neurobiology of brain aging and its impact on cognition,” said Barnes, who joined the UA Department of Psychology in 1990 and was named a Regents’ Professor in 2006. 

“Of course, my election to the NAS would not have been possible without collaboration of many colleagues, students and support staff with whom I have had the good fortune to work with over more than 40 years,” she said. 

Barnes co-founded the UA’s Division of Neural Systems, Memory and Aging, a dedicated research unit for the study of brain mechanisms of learning and their changes with age, which she continues to direct. She also is director of the UA’s Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute and a member of the UA’s BIO5 Institute