Pilar SanchezChef/Instructor at Oxnard College - Santa Barbara, CA Personal MissionTo teach simple home cooking to our children and families.Unique SpecialtyUtilizing fresh California products to incorporate in all my cooking.
Chef Sanchez’ culinary adventure started at some of the finest properties in Santa Barbara, including wine lover destination, the Wine Cask Restaurant. At the Four Season’s Biltmore, Pilar worked under then fledgling chef de cuisine, Mario Batali. Pilar transferred to the Four Seasons Clift Hotel in San Francisco, which held both Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond ratings. The next stop was cooking at the equally highly rated and legendary French restaurant, Ernie’s. The team, was lead by Chef Alain Rondelli, a recent arrival from Michelin Three Star, Marc Meuneau in Vezeley, France.
While at Ernie’s, Pilar would meet her husband to be, Didier Lenders. This union set an exciting course in the next part of Chef Sanchez’ venture with a move to Paris to run the family restaurant and then a stint on the French Caribbean Island of St. Marteen. In 1996 the couple moved back California, to the Napa wine country. There, Chef Sanchez made her mark at exclusive properties like the Relais et Chateau, Meadowood, Napa Valley and as Executive Chef at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus restaurant. In 2004, the couple reunited opening their own restaurant to much critical acclaim.
During her years in Napa, Chef Sanchez became a regular on national radio and television shows including guest appearances on CNN, NBC, CBS, the Travel Channel, PBS, Univision, Telemundo plus her own show on the Food Network. Accolades from publications including Gourmet Magazine and the New York Times, among others, would help cement Pilar’s reputation for high standards among her peers. During this time, Chef Sanchez was invited to cook at the James Beard Foundation on several occasions and became a regular on the charity circuit serving as master chef for the Napa Valley Wine Auction and the Napa Valley Opera House. She served as guest chef for fundraisers Opera Omaha, the Houston Grand Opera and Hospitality Scholarships around the country and Puerto Rico. Chef Sanchez has also served as consultant and spokesperson for retail food companies such as Freschetta Pizza, Food 4 Less and the California Raisin Board. She has had recipes published by the Associated Press, winery newsletters, newspapers, magazines and cookbooks, many of which can be found online.
Chef Sanchez is now back in her hometown with family. Having come full circle, she has returned to her alma mater, Oxnard College, as Chef/Instructor of Culinary Arts. She is also on the team of Chef/Instructors at Casa Esperanza. Here residents of this homeless shelter go through a Culinary Arts certificate program that helps them find employment.
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