Wildhorse Resort & Casino has hired Jeff Sommer as executive chef. Sommer comes to Pendleton from New Orleans bringing with him more than 30 years of experience in culinary arts.
Originally, from the Wisconsin, Sommer got his first taste of cooking in the kitchen, helping his mother bake and preserve vegetables from his Grandparent’s garden. At 16, Sommer started working as a busboy where he soon discovered his yearning to be in the kitchen. He has never looked back.
Sommer attended Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisc.,, receiving degrees in both Hotel Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts. From there, Sommer was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduation, Chef Sommer honed his skills at various private business clubs, country clubs and resorts.
In 2000, Sommer became the Chef de Cuisine at the Overlook Club House on the Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga. Soon after, he joined the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on the plantation at Georgia’s, the hotels signature restaurant. He was promoted around the Ritz-Carlton property until 2015 when he accepted the position of Executive Chef at the Loews Hotel in New Orleans.
“Jeff is going to be a great fit for Wildhorse,” said Bruce Mecham, director of food and beverage at Wildhorse. “The experience he brings gives him the ability to impact all of our restaurant offerings and our banquet facilities. It also allows him to continue to enhance our guests experience in Plateau Fine Dining.”
“Food is a big part of the gaming experience,” said Mecham. Locals and tourists who come to Wildhorse to gamble or experience the casino’s other attractions provide a stream of potential diners. Mecham estimated that casino fed about 600,000 people last year, which works out to 1,600 people per day.
The newly appointed executive chef is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead for him at Wildhorse. He is also looking forward to exploring all Eastern Oregon has to offer. Coming from Wisconsin, Chef Sommer is an avid outdoorsman. Sommer moved to Pendleton with his wife, Cherrieanna and son, Scott. Daughter, Cassie, attends Georgia Southern University.