Growing up in the small town of Brandon, Wisconsin, Chef Gregg Wangard developed an appreciation for farm-fresh ingredients and bountiful cuisine at an early age. Wangard realized his passion for food while working with his grandmother in the kitchen at family holidays. From the age of seven, Wangard helped his grandmother prepare feasts using the freshest vegetables and eggs.
Wangard began his culinary career while washing dishes in a small café in his hometown, where his older brother was behind the stove in the kitchen. He enjoyed the fast pace of the kitchen atmosphere and use of simple yet flavorful ingredients. During his last year of high school, he shadowed a chef at The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter accepted a three-year American Culinary Federation (ACF) accredited apprenticeship and began culinary arts classes at the Waukesha Technical College in Wisconsin.
The following winter, Wangard was asked to join an elite group of 12 students in an internship program at the Rosewood Caneel Bay Resort on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, an internationally renowned Caribbean destination. Wangard spent the next three years apprenticing at The American Club in the summer and traveling to Caneel Bay to master the art of Caribbean cuisine in the winter. It was here that he met his match in the kitchen, and in life, Kelly Wangard, who is now his wife and also an acclaimed culinarian.
After finishing his apprenticeship, Gregg obtained a position as chef de cuisine of Cucina Restaurant in Kohler, Wisconsin and then moved to The Immigrant Room & Winery Bar at The American Club, the Midwest's only AAA Five Diamond property. There, he introduced a creative menu featuring seasonal delicacies such as seared foie gras with apple-raisin oatmeal cookie and signature cheese dishes.
During his two years at The Immigrant Room, Gregg made extensive use of the hotel's cheese locker, which housed more than 45 regional cheeses. Visits to local dairy farms and cheese makers instilled in Gregg a fond appreciation for the meticulous techniques used in cheese making.
In late 2004, Gregg and Kelly moved west for the opportunity to work with Loews Hotels. Taking the reigns in the kitchen in the newly opened Ocean and Vine Restaurant in Santa Monica, Gregg brought a fresh approach to American cuisine to match the restaurant's casually elegant setting. Gregg took weekly visits to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market to seek out the freshest ingredients, tapping into his childhood memories by using local ingredients to create a unique approach to American cuisine for the Los Angeles restaurant scene.
After leaving Ocean and Vine Restaurant, Gregg took over the kitchen of another Los Angeles area hotel, in nearby Pismo Beach. At Marisol at The Cliffs, he continues to focus on the local produce of the West coast in inventive dishes.