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Justin Cogley is FOOD & WINE’s Best New Chef 2013

April 2, 2013

WHY HE’S AMAZING Because he combines ultra-seasonal ingredients with flavors from his world travels, creating a menu that changes nightly and that’s purely Northern California.

BORN 1978; Erie, PA

CULINARY SCHOOL The Western Culinary Institute (Portland, OR)

BACKGROUND Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago)

QUINTESSENTIAL DISH Abalone and oyster with pickled sea beans and wild sea lettuce on a braised pig’s tail cake PREVIOUS CAREER In his early 20s, Cogley toured the world as a professional figure skater with Disney on Ice. “We had so much downtime when the show was being transferred to different cities—it could take as long as a month. We’d eat out wherever we could.” ON HIS TRANSITION FROM SKATER TO CHEF “It was very natural. I was so used to working long hours. Restaurants were a natural fit for me.”

TAKEAWAY FROM CHARLIE TROTTER’S Precision and spontaneity: Cogley’s dishes look like tiny scenes from nature—seemingly unscripted but composed.

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Aubergine – A Walk on the Sea

by Chuck Eats, December 23, 2013

The water crashes. Birds squawk. A salty smell is swept briskly through the seaside town of Carmel By The Sea. Wave after wave, dish after dish. Four blocks uphill, Justin Cogley and Aaron Koseba walk along the ocean’s edge. Of seaweeds and tidal pools.

The salt clings to the palate. Seaweed curls around the plate, jut out as dried chips, or accent like an aquatic herb. And sometimes they pop like caviar. Raw fish is not the only vector of a seafood cuisine. Local ingredients from the Monterey Bay are showcased and championed but the far side of the sea is still the same sea. A recurring brine, rhythmic like a wave, threads the meal. By plate. By terroir. By imagination. A journey into the wine-dark sea.

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Tasting Menus Blaze Trail

by Michael Bauer, SF Chronicle, September 15, 2013

Cogley, who came to the restaurant about three years ago after four years at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, has crafted a menu that has a certain whimsy, an artistic repeat of ideas that drive home the locale of where he's cooking, served up in an intimate 24-seat dining room with carpeted floors, white-clothed tables and comfortable upholstered chairs. A wall of arched windows covered in sheers affords a gauzy view of Monte Verde Street. Gold and brown pencil-thin tiles cover the back wall.

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The Most Romantic Old-World Hideaway in Northern California: L'Auberge Carmel

by Ann Abel, Forbes.com, March 21, 2013

Built in 1929, the 20-room L’Auberge Carmel evokes old Europe in a way that few American hotels do. Stepping into the central brick courtyard, I found myself wondering if I was still in California or had somehow been teleported to the charming Austrian inn—a fellow Relais & Châteaux member—I’d visited last year. (The hotel in Carmel was actually modeled on a hotel in Prague.) All the Continental hallmarks were there: tiered fountains, shaded café tables, wrought-iron banisters, and flower-filled window boxes hanging from the three-story wood-and-stucco building.

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Central Coast Classic & Cool

by Joanne DiBona, USA Today Travel, October 11, 2013

Quaint, historical, rustic, and luxury hotels and B & B's offer the visitor to Carmel-by-the-Sea a variety of overnight options. The town boasts 945 guest rooms at all price levels, and several historic hotels. The L'Auberge Carmel was constructed in 1929 by Carmel builder Allen Knight, who based his design on architecture he had seen while traveling in Prague. The hotel's restaurant, Aubergine, has won countless numbers of culinary awards over the years for its innovative cuisine.

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Cantinetta Luca & Salumeria Luca
Featured Press

A Brief And Opinionated Guide To Monterey County, Carmel, And Big Sur, California

by Ann Abel, Forbes.com, March 18, 2013

A longtime local favorite on one of Carmel’s main drags, Luca is especially popular for its house-made and artisan salume, house-made pasta, and bistecca alla fiorentina for two, as well as a convivial vibe and lively late-night scene.

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Carmel and Monterey make their mark on fine dining

by Michael Bauer, SF Chronicle, September 18, 2011

Opened in 2006, Cantinetta Luca quickly became the best place to go for casual, well-prepared Italian-inspired food. Chef Jason Balestrieri offers all the right things - burrata cheese ($9), arancini ($6), excellent pizza ($13-$16), house-made pastas and beautifully roasted meats and fish ($22-$29).

One of the chef's main loves is salumi. In fact, beside the open kitchen he has a salumi room, which led to his next big idea.

In August, the restaurant expanded next door with Salumeria Luca, a takeout deli and bakery. As with the restaurant, the offerings change seasonally, but now Balestrieri has a venue to sell his prosciutto, house-made cheeses and other handiwork. The restaurant also offers grilled panini and other items that can be taken away for a picnic.

In addition, you can buy pizza dough, olive oils, pasta sauce and pastas, and even some hand-cut steaks.

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Dose of Vitamin P: Cantinetta Luca Salume Selection

By Joshua Lurie, Food GPS, April 17, 2012

The restaurant has wood fired pizzas, several pastas and entrees, but the aspect that left the biggest impression was the salume, mostly house-made and kept in a glass fronted room between the bar and open kitchen. We ordered the Selection of Salume ($24.95) and subbed in wild boar prosciutto for sweet capicolla from the Bronx for an extra $3. This ended being a great deal, since we got to experience eight different meats, most of them pork-based.

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Feeling Cured: Salumeria Luca unfurls an impressive assemblage of Italian charcuterie, sandwiches and other treats

by Ulia Zettie, MC Weekly, December 22, 2011

The first I heard of Salumeria Luca was from a friend who bought her father a salami sandwich for his birthday. He promptly reported that it transported him back to his native Italy with the first bite. I knew with similar immediacy that I had to compare Luca against the high salumeria standards I developed tasting my way through Rome. 


Traditionally a salumeria is more than a butcher shop. It’s an Italian deli that carries fine, artisanal charcuterie like prosciutto, salami, bologna, mortadella and beef bresaola. Carmel recently gained its only traditional Italian salumeria when Luca opened right next door to its sister Italian restaurant Cantinetta Luca on Dolores Avenue, where riches like imported Italian salume, Chef Jason Balestrieri’s house made sausages and cheeses, carefully curated wines, fresh pasta, fresh baked bread and shelves full of Italian grandmother’s favorite pantry items reside. 


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Destinations: Carmel-by-the-Sea

by Milla Sukonik, Caviar Affair, Winter 2014

Stumbling into this special find on Dolores Street brings you right back to the best secret family-style restaurants in Rome. Locals and visors enjoy delicious pizza, baked in an authentic, Italian, no gas, wood-burning pizza oven. Do not miss the salume and fresh handmade pasta. Simple and rustic at its best.

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400° Gourmet Burgers & Fries
Featured Press

Family Weekend Getaway in Monterey and Carmel

Fodor's Travel Intelligence, July 5, 2012

Sink your teeth into a juicy burger at 400 Degrees, an upscale diner that opened in May 2012. A straightforward menu includes burgers, sandwiches, and salads with gourmet touches, such as duck-fat fries and Sea Salt Caramel milkshakes, plus a kids menu. The restaurant provides computer tablets at tables so you can order extra items, pay your bill, and—perfect for impatient young'uns—play games.

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400 Degrees: The Down-Low Diner

by Allyson Thommen, See Monterey Blog, June 19, 2012

Watch out Carmel-by-the-Sea, there is a new joint in town unlike any other! The masterminds behind Carmel hotspots Aubergine and Cantinetta Luca have concocted yet another praiseworthy restaurant. 400 Degrees is Carmel’s one and only gourmet burger and fries restaurant in a town known for its upscale menus and prices. Hearing so much buzz about this place I just had to check it out for myself.

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Off the Menu: New burger join 400° makes a big splash in Carmel

by Raul N., Montrey Herald, May 30, 2012

This new project from David Fink and the Mirabel Hotel and Restaurant Group finds chef Jason Balestrieri — also executive chef at Mirabel-backed Cantinetta Luca — trading Italian fine dining for good old-fashioned burgers. (And don't worry, Balestrieri isn't leaving Luca — he's juggling both kitchens.)

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Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest
Featured Press

Hottest New Food & Wine Festival in Carmel Celebrates Relais

by Priscilla Pilon, The Daily Meal, April 29, 2014

The Relais & Châteaux brand jumped into the California food & wine festival scene last month with an ambitious plan — three days and nights of non-stop culinary events featuring some of their best chefs and vintners from around the world. The event was the brainchild of Carmel’s David Fink - hotelier, entrepreneur, winemaker and mushroom hunter. He also happens to be the owner of Carmel’s popular Hotel L’Auberge, a member of the Relais & Châteaux group.

Culinary highlights from the opening party included Grand Chef Justin Cogley of Aubergine’s appetizing Young Chicken, Coastal Herbs, Kombu Infused Jus and Grand Chef Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington’s Wagyu Beef Stew. Gourmet Fest spirits were high as enthusiastic guests sipped on Moët & Chandon champagnes all weekend which included bubbly from its famous brands: Krug, Ruinart, Dom Pérignon, and Moët & Chandon.

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Relais & Châteaux Hosts Its Inaugural Gourmetfest

by Amanda Millin, Robb Report, April 17, 2014

In late March, amid Northern California’s iconic cypress trees in the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Relais & Châteaux celebrated its 60th anniversary with the launch of its first annual Gourmetfest. Hosting the ambitious four-day food and wine festival was David Fink, CEO of the Mirabel Hotel and Restaurant Group, which owns the L’Auberge Carmel hotel, a member of the Relais & Châteaux collection. The event’s success (as well as the impressive lineup of acclaimed chefs and winemakers) can be largely attributed to Fink’s 20 years of experience overseeing the Masters of Food and Wine festival, which he cofounded and which took place at the nearby Highlands Inn until 2007.

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All-Star Bay Area Chefs Raise the Bar at GourmetFest

by Schuyler Bailey, 7x7, April 7, 2014

Last weekend, Carmel-by-the-Sea was awash with culinary talent from around the Bay Area and beyond, but it wasn't for the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival—there's a new foodie happening in town, and it's called GourmetFest.The inagural event brought in international Relais & Châteaux chefs of extraordinary caliber, including a few big name locals, for four days of decadence in a setting that matched the prestige of its participants (a tent bedecked with crystal chandeliers and Champagne everywhere). Daily activities went beyond the typical food fest fare with a caviar class, local vineyard tour, and a mushroom hunt with former Point Lobos Ranger Chuck Bankcroft—all of which had a serious wine component with makers from across the globe.

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GourmetFest Brings Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams to Carmel

by Mary Orlin, Huffington Post, April 7, 2014

Twenty-five chefs creating gourmet feasts. 70 cases of Champagne poured. 10 kilos of caviar consumed. All in four days. I can't resist. As cliché as it is, the "Champagne wishes and caviar dreams" tagline made popular by Robin Leach's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, just feels like the perfect way to sum up the experience at GourmetFest.

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Relais & Châteaux Puts on a Show

by Shivani Vora, New York Times, February 13, 2014

Relais & Châteaux, the collection of upscale hotels and restaurants, is holding its first wine and food festival from March 27 to March 30 in Carmel-by-the Sea, Calif.

Called GourmetFest, the events bring together close to 20 chefs from around the world including Michelin three-star Christopher Kostow from the Restaurant at Meadowood in California, Michelin three-star Jean Michel Lorain from La Côte St.-Jacques in Joigny, France, and Patrick O’Connell from the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia.

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MIRABEL HOTEL & RESTAURANT GROUP: Corner of Mission & Seventh Streets, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California // Mailing Address: PO Box 7228, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, 93921
L'Auberge CarmelAubergineRelais & Châteaux GourmetFestCantinetta LucaSalumeria Luca400°