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. Gregg realized his passion for food while working with his grandmother in the kitchen at family holidays. From the age of seven, Gregg helped his grandmother prepare feasts using the freshest vegetables and eggs. Today, while leading the culinary operations at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel’s new restaurant, Ocean and Vine, Gregg uses local ingredients and his unique approach to American cuisine to the Los Angeles restaurant scene.
Gregg began his culinary career while washing dishes in a small café in his hometown of Brandon, Wisconsin, 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, Gregg 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. Gregg 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 and currently serves as executive chef for Lot 1224 Restaurant and Director of Food and Beverage for Loews Beverly Hills Hotel.
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 fois 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 technique used in making cheeses.
In late 2004, Gregg and his wife 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, Gregg brings a fresh approach to American cuisine to match the restaurant’s casually elegant setting. Gregg enjoys weekly visits to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market to seek out the freshest ingredients and develop new menu items. Ocean and Vine’s famed Fondue and High Society Cheese flight reflect Gregg’s Wisconsin roots and his passion for cheese. Signature dishes include Prince Edward Island Steamed Mussels, Hawaiian Big Eyed Tuna, and An Angus Fillet with Black Truffle Vinaigrette.
When he’s not in the kitchen, Gregg, can be found riding his bike on the Santa Monica Shore, playing basketball, tennis, following the Packers, or searching for new ideas and ingredients in the field. Gregg and his wife Kelly live in Santa Monica with their dog, Champagne.