Since the August departure of Jeremy Pacheco (who moved to Las Vegas to become the executive chef of Society Cafe at the Wynn), Lon's at the Hermosa, the luxury boutique resort in Paradise Valley, has been on the hunt for a new culinary leader.
And given its track record of employing just two chefs in 10 years (the other being chef Michael Rusconi of Rusconi's American Kitchen), Lon's wanted to take its time in making a decision, says managing director Michael Gildersleeve.
Two months and more than 30 chef interviews later, it has made that decision.
This time, the replacement is coming from the resort's own ranks, with the promotion of James Ducas from chef de cuisine to executive chef of Lon's and the Inn's newly opened casual dining concept, Last Drop at the Hermosa.
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Ducas' culinary journey started in New York, when he took a job washing dishes at a restaurant at the tender age of 14. From there, Ducas honed his skills in the kitchen, eventually becoming executive chef of Pacific Café in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2000, and partner and executive chef at Savoy in Asheville in 2003. Ducas started working at The Hermosa Inn in 2007.
"By having learned from both Rusconi and Pacheco, who were in this position before me, I've seen many of Lon's signature dishes come and go," says Ducas. "So while the spirit and style of our artful American cuisine will remain -- now with more bold flavors, unique flavor profiles, and cutting-edge techniques -- I'll also be ensuring that the signature dishes our guests love, become a mainstay on the menu."
Of Ducas' promotion, Gildersleeve says, "We always like to give an opportunity to chefs who really want it, and because we've attracted such a high caliber team, it was only natural that we promote James and now give him the opportunity to continue Lon's legacy."