The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., announced today the appointments of Calvin Belknap as director of food and beverage and Azhar Mohammad as executive chef. Both bring impressive experience to the historic Inn's renowned dining operation, including four full-service locally sourced restaurants ranging from the iconic Sunset Terrace, an eight-time recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, to EDISON, craft ales kitchen, an innovative and relaxed celebration of Southern comfort food and Asheville's beer and cocktail culture.
Calvin Belknap, director of food and beverage
An award-winning chef and seasoned veteran of the Omni Hotels & Resorts family, Calvin Belknap arrived to The Omni Grove Park Inn following a nine-month corporate task force assignment for Omni Hotels & Resorts and a successful 11-year run as executive director of food and beverage at Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H. Highly skilled in the culinary arts, Belknap now oversees the entire food and beverage operation at The Omni Grove Park Inn, including all restaurants and lounges, 24 hour in-room dining and banqueting for special events, as well as the resort retail program.
Belknap's expertise is reflective of his vast experience at top resorts and accolades he has earned throughout his career. He joined Omni Mount Washington Resort from Colonial Williamsburg and The Williamsburg Inn in Virginia, where he served as corporate executive chef and director of food and beverage. Previously, Belknap held positions including executive chef at Doral Ocean Beach Resort in Miami and executive chef at Buena Vista Hotel Group in Orlando.
In 2001, Belknap led the Dining Room at The Williamsburg Inn to not only be named among the best restaurants on the continent by Distinguished Restaurants of North America, but also to receive various prestigious awards and accolades including the National Restaurant Association Award of Excellence for wine and food, the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, and a AAA Four-Diamond rating. Additionally, Belknap received the Blue Plate Award from Epicurean and won three medals in international competitions.
In 1999, the Resort Food Executives Committee awarded Belknap the Herman Rusch Medallion as one of the top resort executive chefs in the U.S. and Caribbean. He appeared with Al Roker on the Food Network,and was recently on New England Cable News and Martha Stewart Radio. Belknap has also been featured in Bon Appétit, Gourmet and Wine Spectator.
Azhar Mohammad, executive chef
With more than 16 years of culinary experience in the Caribbean, Middle East, New Orleans, St. Louis and now Asheville, N.C., Azhar Mohammad is an exciting addition to the culinary team at the historic The Omni Grove Park Inn. As executive chef, he oversees kitchen operations and menu creation for the Inn's locally sourced full-service restaurants, as well as 24-hour in-room dining and the Marketplace.
Raised in Northern India, Azhar was exposed to a fusion of unique Indian cuisine with modern influences, creating the flavorful repertoire that he is known for. His love for cooking came from his mother, who spent countless hours in kitchen, often passing on family recipes.
Educated at the Institute of Hotel Management, Bangalore in India, Azhar joined the opening team of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman in 2005. Azhar served as sous chef for the resort's exceptional steak house, Seven, and led the culinary team to earn the coveted AAA Four-Diamond Award. He went on to become banquet chef at JW Marriott Dubai, where he oversaw an expansive operation and achieved finesse in Indian and Lebanese cuisines.
Azhar joined The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans in April 2008 as chef garde manger, where he incorporated his culture into native Creole dishes to create a culinary style all his own. Soon after joining the team, he was promoted to executive sous chef. Following a year in that role, he served as executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, where he made noteworthy changes to all of the restaurants' concepts and menu designs. From St. Louis, Azhar moved on to the Caribbean to serve as executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan before joining The Omni Grove Park Inn in early 2014.
Rates at The Omni Grove Park Inn begin at $249. For more information or to make reservations, guests can call 1-800-438-5800 or visit www.groveparkinn.com.
About The Omni Grove Park Inn
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains just minutes from downtown Asheville, North Carolina, The Omni Grove Park Inn provides a one-of-a-kind escape. The award winning 514-room resort has just undergone a $25 million renovation. Originally opened in 1913, the Inn showcases a wide range of Arts & Crafts furnishings from Stickley and Roycroft throughout guest areas, guestrooms and suites. The world-class Spa is an experience like no other, with 43,000 square feet of subterranean space and a menu of unique treatments incorporating indigenous elements. The resort's historic 18-hole Donald Ross golf course is considered among the top golf experiences in North Carolina, and the Sports Complex includes indoor and outdoor tennis courts. The Omni Grove Park Inn is well suited for meetings and events, with 25 meeting rooms and two ballrooms totaling 55,000 square feet, including the Skyline Room and Mountain View Terrace.
About Omni Hotels & Resorts
Omni Hotels & Resorts creates genuine, authentic guest experiences at nearly 60 distinct luxury hotels and resorts in leading business gateways and leisure destinations across North America. With over 20 world-class golf courses and award-winning spa retreats, to dynamic business settings, each Omni showcases the local flavor of the destination while featuring four-diamond services, signature restaurants, Wi-Fi connectivity and unique wellness options. Known for its distinguished, personalized service, Omni leaves a lasting impression with every customer interaction, with a heightened level of recognition and rewards delivered through its Select Guest loyalty program and the company's "Power of One" associate empowerment program. The brand is frequently recognized by top consumer research organizations and travel publications. To get additional information or book accommodations, visit omnihotels.com or call 1-800-The-Omni.