Meet the chefs
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Meet our Masters of Culinary Perfection

Meet the chefs who are leading Seminole Hard Rock Tampa's creative culinary team. Each highly trained in their craft, these talented individuals aim to transcend the norm.

Albert Tash

Executive Chef, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Albert Tash is the Executive Chef at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. With 20 years of experience as an Executive Chef, Tash’s employment prior to joining Seminole Hard Rock Tampa included Ameristar, Great Canadian Gaming and Boyd Gaming. Tash specializes in venue design and operation, menu engineering and design, as well as team communication.

 A Canadian, Tash has been the recipient of many prestigious awards over the years including a President’s Award, Chef of the Year Award and a Gold Medal at the World Culinary Arts Festival.

Tash holds a Bachelor of Arts Honors Degree and a Juris Doctor Degree from the University Alberta along with Culinary Honors from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Frank Anderson

Creative Culinary Director, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Born in Caribou, a small town in Northern Maine, Frank Anderson grew up on a potato farm, which he attributes to his strong work ethic. A graduate of Southern Maine Technical College and the Italian Institute for Advanced Culinary & Pastry Arts, Anderson has accumulated more than 20 years of culinary experience. 

Anderson anchored his culinary career, spending more than 10 years cooking alongside James Beard Award-winning chefs, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Their partnership started at a catering company, Carmelized Production, where the three worked out of an unassuming commissary in Los Angeles. With three years’ worth of savings, Shook and Dotolo fulfilled a life-long dream to build out the commissary space, and in 2008 re-opened the location as Animal restaurant, with Anderson as Chef de Cuisine. Anderson lead the kitchen until Shook and Dotolo decided to open their second restaurant, Son of a Gun.

Anderson opened Son of a Gun, managing the kitchen for three years as Chef de Cuisine. Under his direction, the restaurant achieved numerous awards and recognitions including Top Ten Best Restaurants (2011 – Bon Appetit; and 2012 – Los Angeles Magazine), Best Seafood Restaurants in the U.S. (2012 – Travel & Leisure), World’s 5 Hottest News Restaurants (2011 – Details Magazine) and Dish of the Year (2013 – Los Angeles Magazine). 

Stephan Schubert

Executive Pastry Chef, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Stephan Schubert, who won the prestigious American Culinary Federation Chef of the Year award in 2014, is the Executive Pastry Chef at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Schubert, a 30-year veteran of the pastry business, is originally from Germany. He has worked in highly-rated European restaurants and hotels in Germany, Greece and Switzerland.

After moving to the U.S. in the late 1990’s, Schubert worked with such companies as Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, FL. and the Royal Viking Cruise Line. Most recently, he was the Regional Executive Pastry Chef for Pinnacle Entertainment properties in St. Louis and was named Pastry Chefs of the Americas.

In September 2017, Schubert represented the USA and the property at the Global Pastry chefs Challenge in Greece.

Kim Pak Chai

Asian Specialty Chef, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Kim Pak Chai is the Asian Specialty Chef at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. Born in Malaysia, Pak Chai oversees the Noodle Bar at Jubao Palace, Rock 'N Raw, as well as all Asian specialty events and functions.

Classically trained in France, Pak Chai has accumulated more than 25 years of experience in nearly all facets of Asian/International cooking and management. Over 18 years of his career were with the Marriot Corporation where he opened hotel and freestanding restaurants, while moving between the front and back of the house in all positions concerning food and beverage.

His deep culinary knowledge includes a love and respect for the art of making sushi which provides a new enhancement at the property’s Rock 'N Raw dining venue.

Michael Priola

Chef de Cuisine, Plum VIP Lounge

Michael Priola is the Chef de Cuisine of the VIP Plum Lounge at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. Originally from Germany, he moved to the United States in 1985 and began working with his father at Gus’ Cafe in Tampa, FL. He expanded his culinary experience by working for Armani’s, the Holiday Inn (Double Tree Hotel), and currently at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. He has been an active member of the ACF since 1993 and an active board member for 20 years, currently serving in the position as chairman of the board.

In 2006, he was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs.He has been a regular participant in several national and international ACF sponsored competitions; having won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals and winning the American Chef Competition at the World Trade Center Miami 2009, 2010.

Michael was awarded first place for the Alligator Signature Recipe Competition and The National Pork Board Competition 2013 and 2017, first place for the Agriculture Florida Shrimp Recipe Competition 2014 and in 2017 for the Fresh Point Produce Farm to Table Vegetarian Signature Recipe Competition. 

He was inducted into the Chaine Des Rotisseurs as Maitre Rotisseur in 2016, awarded the Presidential medal from the National President of the ACF in 2017, and awarded Chef of the year in 1995, 2006 and 2011. In 2007 he was voted Top 20 Chef in Central Florida Restaurant Forum. He is an Approved Evaluator by the ACF and continues to give back through creating educational opportunities for culinary students and professionals

Francisco Pomalaza

Chef de Cuisine, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood

The newest Chef de Cuisine for Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, Francisco Pomalaza is full of passion, energy, and intent on taking you on a culinary adventure. Known as Chef Cisco, he’s is the new fiery chef who’s heating up the kitchen inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Chef Cisco’s career has been spent in many award winning restaurants such as Talula Restaurant, Blue Moon Fish Co and the NYY Steak House at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.

Born in Atlanta, GA and raised in Miami, FL, Chef Cisco was initially headed towards a degree in Chemistry. He quickly turned his instinctual abilities of combining various chemicals into mastering the combination of various ingredients to create dishes carrying details that showcase his passion. Chef Cisco obtained his degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales. He spent three years in Naples, FL as the Executive Chef of 7th Avenue Social in downtown Naples.

Now, Chef Cisco is serving up steaks that are a cut above the rest in Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, which opened in 2007. The restaurant quickly became Tampa’s number one destination for prime steaks, fresh seafood and an award-winning wine list served in a contemporary upscale atmosphere.

Matthew Zappoli

Chef de Cuisine, The Rez Grill

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa announced the appointment of Matthew Zappoli as chef de cuisine at The Rez Grill. Zappoli, a New Jersey native, began his long-standing career in 1998 when he graduated with honors from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Following graduation, he was hired by his now mentor and celebrity chef and restaurateur Charlie Palmer, at the highly acclaimed Aureole located in New York City. Zappoli’s appetite for success and creativity led him to advance quickly and work across the country in various Charlie Palmer properties including the Las Vegas-based Aureole located in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Dry Creek Kitchen located in Hotel Healdsburg in Sonoma County, California. 

In 2008, Zappoli decided to take his wealth of experience and return to his New Jersey stomping grounds where he successfully opened and managed his own restaurant, Tre Amici, along with his brother. In 2010, Zappoli garnered national attention when he was crowned champion on an episode of The Food Network’s “Chopped.” 

Zappoli’s culinary talents have led to appearances at The James Beard House, high praises by Bon Appétit in a piece titled “Five Chefs to Watch,” followed by Restaurant Hospitality naming him “Rising Star Chef.”  Prior to his arrival at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, Zappoli served as executive chef at NYY Steak located at sister property Seminole Casino Coconut Creek since 2016.

 

Carlos Quinones

Chef de Cuisine, Fresh Harvest Buffet

Carlos Quinones is the Chef de Cuisine of Fresh Harvest Buffet at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. Originally from Fajardo Puerto Rico, he relocated to Tampa, Florida in 2008. Carlos began his extensive career with the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa as a cook for the former 24 hour dining establishment Green Room.

Later in his career, Carlos moved his way up to becoming a Lead Cook for Council Oak Steaks & Seafood in 2011, and then helped open Rise Kitchen & Bakery in 2012 where he was hired on as a sous chef. Not long after he was promoted to “Room Chef” in the Green Room where he was also given the task to run all banquets throughout the casino.

Chef Carlos does not hesitate when asked if he has eager plans to continue moving up the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa food and beverage ladder. He is confident when expressing he is always up for the challenge. His goals are to aim for bigger and better improvements on not only himself, but also the dining establishments throughout Seminole Hard Rock Tampa.

Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself through hard graft and not giving up”

Melvin De Leon

Chef de Cuisine, Hard Rock Cafe

Melvin De Leon is the Chef de Cuisine at Hard Rock Cafe in Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. De Leon has over 10 years of experience in various restaurants and catering venues.

At Seminole Hard Rock Tampa since October of 2009, De Leon started in the former Billboard Cafe before moving to The Green Room where he was the lead cook since 2013. He was also at Fresh Harvest Buffet prior to moving to Hard Rock Cafe.

A cigar connoisseur and avid camper, De Leon feels his diverse background will contribute to the overall success of a quality guest experience.

Valentin Castañeda

Chef de Cuisine, Rise Kitchen & Bakery

A Texas native, Castañeda has over 20 years of culinary experience. He has worked for several world-class establishments including the Mobil Four Star Armani’s Restaurant at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Tampa Bay; the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort in Tucson; the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, also in Tucson; and the Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio.

While at the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort, Castañeda participated in the first Hilton Worldwide culinary competition (Diamond Chef) and his team captured the gold medal.

Prior to arriving at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, Castañeda was also the Director of Food & Beverage for McKibbon Hospitality in Tampa where he managed the front and back of the house. He was involved with many taskforce projects, which included new menu training, brand initiative rollouts and new property openings and acquisitions.

 

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Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa 5223 Orient Road Tampa, Florida 33610 United States Phone: 813-627-7625 Toll Free: 866-388-4263