The Ben, Autograph Collection, today announced the appointment, and promotion, of Jesse Pita to executive chef of the hotel’s food and beverage program. An original member of The Ben’s culinary management team, Chef Pita brings nearly 20 years of industry experience in top markets around the country to his role at the helm of the hotels’ popular kitchens.
After working in various capacities at restaurants throughout the Long Island region, Pita received his degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After obtaining his degree, Pita spent several years in Lahaina, Hawaii, first as sous chef at the Pacific’o, then at Merrimans, before receiving the title of Chef de Cuisine at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort.
Pita returned to the continental US in 2019 to help open The Ben in downtown West Palm Beach as the hotel’s Chef de Cuisine. In just over a year of inventing and successfully executing everything from Mediterranean small plates to American gastropub dishes at The Ben’s two very different and distinct culinary concepts, Spruzzo and Proper Grit, Pita was promoted to executive chef.
“I was proud to be in the kitchen at The Ben the day we opened and to be able to help build menus and culinary concepts based on the best of Florida’s natural ingredients – an opportunity we were afforded thanks to the freedom to innovate that comes with being an Autograph Collection hotel,” says Chef Pita. “We opened a month before COVID swept the globe and hit our industry very hard, and I was here through all of the challenges and uncertainties that came along with those times. Today, I am grateful and humbled to now be sitting here at the helm of our culinary program at this moment when we are coming back stronger than ever, and I’m very excited for the opportunity to bring a renewed energy to the guest dining experience.”
After spending so much time in kitchens throughout Hawaii, Pita brings what he calls a sense of “Aloha” to The Ben’s culinary team, creating a laid back, positive vibe that keeps his staff productive, energized and motivated to execute the highest-quality dishes for guests every day. Pita’s exceptional ability to source the best available produce- a skill highly utilized in creating dishes at The Ben- comes from his love for preparing the foods of his Southern Italian roots. Pita also exhibits his great appreciation for bold flavors throughout his dishes- an affection that stems from his enjoyment of the foods prepared by his Mexican wife and during his travels throughout Mexico.
According to Pita, the cuisines from these regions are based on, “humble foods- off-cuts and basic ingredients- brought together to create something magical and memorable.” His desire to turn fresh, simple ingredients into something that excites the palate is evident in every dish he creates for The Ben’s dining program.