The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, May 2016 … Benchmark Hospitality International, a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company, has named Kirsten Ponza director of food & beverage for Chaminade Resort & Spa, the award-winning Benchmark Resort® located in Santa Cruz, California. Kevin Herbst, general manager for the resort, which overlooks the city and Monterey Bay, made the announcement.
“I am so pleased to announce Kirsten’s new position, which represents a promotion for her at our resort,” said Mr. Herbst. “She has brought incredible culinary talent and creativity to Chaminade, first as pastry chef, then as our executive chef, and now as the leader of the entire food and beverage department. Kirsten is a terrific example of how Benchmark builds careers.”
Kirsten Ponza was previously executive chef for Chaminade Resort & Spa, a position to which she was appointed in 2013. She has also served as executive sous chef and as pastry chef for the resort.
While Chaminade’s executive chef, Ms. Ponza actively brought the resort into the community, with annual participation in Santa Cruz’s Grazing on the Green Food, Wine & Beer Festival to help raise funds for the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group. She remains active with the culinary arts program at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, near Santa Cruz. Never one to shy away from a particularly unique opportunity, Kirsten Ponza has served as tour chef for the legendary English rock band, The Rolling Stones.
A native of Canada where she launched her culinary career, Ms. Ponza is a graduate of Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, where she earned her Culinary Management Degree. She resides in Santa Cruz.