A veteran of several notable establishments, Rolando Maldonado brings a diverse background in the hospitality and agricultural industry to his position as Wine Director and Sommelier at Charlie Palmer’s acclaimed Dry Creek Kitchen where he oversees the restaurant’s 500-plus label wine list and cellar.
Maldonado got his start in the hospitality industry after graduating from UCLA with a degree in Political Science. He knew his passion was elsewhere and decided to turn to his family’s roots in agriculture, as his grandfather had worked as a farmer well into his eighties. Over the next few years following graduation, he worked for a number of agricultural operations in Southern California, including Sage Mountain Farm. He then began a small business that was focused on delivering prime specialty produce to a small group of Los Angeles chefs.
Through this exposure with the culinary community, he transitioned into working in the restaurant industry. In 2010, he met Chef and Restaurateur Josef Centeno, who brought Maldonado on to run the wine program at The Lazy Ox, a celebrated restaurant which went on to win a number of prestigious accolades including a three-star review from The Los Angeles Times and the title of “Best New Restaurant” from Angeleno Magazine. During his time at The Lazy Ox, Maldonado truly discovered his palate and appreciation for the industry and decided to pursue wine as his career.
Hailing from Southern California, Maldonado fell in love with the Healdsburg area on a recent vacation with his mother and made a promise to himself to relocate to the area. Now in his new role, Maldonado maintains Dry Creek Kitchen’s focus on all-Sonoma County selections for the wine list while continuing to honor the traditions and people of Sonoma County by diversifying Dry Creek Kitchen’s selections and sourcing the very best local bottlings. In addition, he is currently working to expand the offerings of passionate producers, burgeoning varietals, well-loved classics, library selections and showcase a greater breadth and depth of Sonoma County’s developing appellations. In collaboration with Dry Creek Kitchen’s Chef, Maldonado is creating pairings that highlight the flavors and ingredients of Sonoma County to create truly memorable dining experiences.
Since the beginning of his celebrated career, , master Chef, hospitality entrepreneur and hotelier Charlie Palmer has received critical acclaim for his signature Progressive American cooking, a style built on rambunctious flavors and unexpected combinations with a deep and lasting infusion of classical French technique. Charlie Palmer’s upbringing on a farm in upstate New York, along with his education in various kitchens in France and at The Culinary Institute of America, provided him with the acumen to form this unique style and ultimately strike out on his own. In 1988, he made a significant commitment to creating dishes featuring regional American ingredients at his sublime Aureole, originally situated in a historic townhouse off Manhattan's Madison Avenue and now in a spectacular new location in the heart of New York City’s radiant theater district.
Over the years, Chef Palmer combined his creative cooking spirit and flair for business to open dozens of notable restaurants across the country and a growing collection of award-winning boutique hotels. These include: award-winning Aureole and its less formal counterpart, Liberty Room at Aureole, Charlie Palmer Steak New York, Spyglass Rooftop Bar, Crimson & Rye, Upper Story by Charlie Palmer, Charlie Palmer at The Knick, JAKE’s @ The Knick and St. Cloud, all at The Knickerbocker Hotel (New York, NY); Charlie Palmer Steak DC, (Washington, D.C.); Aureole at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, and Charlie Palmer Steak Las Vegas at the Four Seasons, (Las Vegas, NV); Charlie Palmer Steak (Reno, NV); Charlie Palmer Steak Napa and Sky & Vine® Rooftop Bar (Napa, CA); and Dry Creek Kitchen at the boutique Hotel Healdsburg, (Sonoma County, CA).
A 20-year board member of Citymeals-on-Wheels and longtime supporter of Share our Strength, Chef Palmer and his namesake restaurant and hotel properties frequently give back to the community with their signature charity events. A weekend-long food and beverage experience at Hotel Healdsburg, Pigs & Pinot is an annual celebration of award-winning Pinot Noirs, heritage pork, and acclaimed national and local chefs combining their star power and talents to raise serious funds for local Sonoma charities and scholarships, and Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign.
Palmer is an admired and respected hospitality industry veteran and business leader. The James Beard Foundation named him “Best Chef in America” in 1997 and welcomed him as a member of their illustrious “Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America” in 1998. For his culinary trailblazing in Las Vegas, he was inducted into the casino community’s Gaming Hall of Fame in 2011. Chef Palmer’s unwavering support of his alma mater earned him a seat on The Culinary Institute of America’s Board of Trustees where he served as Chairman of the Board from 2013-2016. In recognition of his many achievements and devotion to the culinary arts, the school presented him with an honorary doctorate in April 2018. As a tribute to his hard work and contributions to his upstate New York high school wrestling team, Chef Palmer was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2017. A frequent guest on NBC's Today Show, Bravo’s Top Chef, The Rachael Ray Show and more, Charlie Palmer is also the author of six cookbooks, Great American Food (Random House/1996), Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking (Harper Collins/2001), The Art of Aureole, (Ten Speed Press/2002), Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen (Melcher Media/2006), Remington Camp Cooking by Charlie Palmer (Charlie Palmer Group/2013), and Charlie Palmer’s American Fare (Grand Central Life & Style/April 2015).
A caring, supportive father to four boys and doting husband to Lisa, Chef Palmer holds the honor of family higher than any of his hospitality accolades. The family lives bi-coastally between New York and in Healdsburg, CA where the Palmer estate is home to abundant fruit trees and produce gardens. The property also houses vineyards, which are the foundation for his joint venture wine with Clay Mauritson, Charlie Clay Pinot Noir, now in its tenth vintage.
An industry veteran and CIA graduate, Executive Chef Scott Romano brings vast experience and an authentic approach to the culinary leadership at Dry Creek Kitchen. His philosophy of honest food served with integrity is critical to the restaurant’s wine country hospitality.
Scott became interested in cooking at a young age, hunting with his father and utilizing the entire animal to make family meals. He’s continued in this pursuit to this day, making refined charcuterie and jerkies, both of which appear on Dry Creek Kitchen’s daily menus.
Scott joined the Charlie Palmer Group in 1997 as a line cook at the group’s flagship, award-winning, New York property, Aureole, and was tapped to helm Palmer’s Alva (later Kitchen 22) and Kitchen 82 as Chef de Cuisine. After seven years with CPG in New York, the Jersey-native headed to California and worked with Palmer at Astra West and subsequently with Wolfgang Puck at his renowned Spago. During this time, Scott continued to refine his straightforward approach and in 2007 relocated to Dallas, Texas, again with Charlie Palmer Group. Upon opening Charlie Palmer at The Joule, Romano earned a four-star review from the Dallas Morning News. With continued passion for wild game, Scott explored his interest at The Frisco Gun Club and Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse, as well as a stint as Gerald Ford’s personal chef.
Scott’s skill, respect for ingredients, and passion for his craft make him a natural leader within the Charlie Palmer Group and at Dry Creek Kitchen.
Dan Prentice is a hospitality veteran with years of experience working throughout the country and abroad. Following his Captain stint at the clubby, American-style Christy’s in Coral Gables, Prentice spent a decade as manager of Nick’s Fishmarket, one of downtown Chicago’s culinary landmarks. In addition to his general duties overseeing the lounge, dining room and staff management, Prentice brought his unabashed enthusiasm for hospitality to bear by conducting specialized product knowledge training seminars in wine, cognac, cigars and the other essential components of maximizing the fine dining experience.
Following his experience in one of the country’s great dining cities, Prentice embarked on a six-year work tour of Europe, gaining professional knowledge and rich cultural experiences at traditionally acclaimed restaurants such as Germany’s stately Schabbelhaus in Lübeck, Michelin-rated destinations like Munich’s marvelous Schuhbecks and the luxurious Unterberger Stuben, located in the picturesque Austrian Alps ski resort of Kitzbühel.
Returning to the United States, Prentice took up residence on Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg, Calif. (Sonoma County) where he presided over all food and beverage operations for Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen. “We were lucky to find someone with the proper mix of classical and contemporary experience necessary to accommodate sophisticated travelers,” said Chef Charlie Palmer. “Dan is a well-rounded hospitality expert who knows his food and his wine and isn’t afraid to share his passion for both.” Prentice functioned in a similar capacity at Orange County’s Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales in South Coast Plaza before serving as the opening general manager at the Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer in St. Helena, Calif. (Napa County) where he hired, trained and set the restaurant in motion. In recognition of his achievements, Prentice earned AAA Four-Diamond Awards consecutively since 2007 as well as the Ivy Award.
For several years, Prentice was retained by Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group to operate and improve Sullivan’s Steakhouses in Washington State, Illinois and Pennsylvania before rejoining Charlie Palmer Group as general manager of Dry Creek Kitchen.
Outside of the kitchen, Prentice enjoys jogging, travel, and watching independent films.
Wine and hospitality expert Jeff Creamer brings his deep knowledge of Northern California wines to Dry Creek Kitchen, renowned chef Charlie Palmer’s vibrant Sonoma County restaurant located on Healdsburg’s town square. With 15 years in the industry, Jeff’s passion for Napa Valley and Sonoma County wines, especially niche, limited-production bottlings, translates to a dynamic, and often discovery-driven, drinking experience for guests; he brings the singular excitement of tasting new wines to the table.
Most recently, Jeff served as Wine Director at Napa’s prominent Brix restaurant. With a focus on Napa and Sonoma wines, Jeff managed a 4000-bottle inventory and a list that received the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence every year during his tenure. Prior to managing the wine program at Brix, Jeff was Wine Director at Hawthorne Lane where he launched an education program designed to improve the guest experience, hosting weekly tastings and teaching staff on the virtues of different producers and vintages. Other hospitality positions, including a term at Rubicon in San Francisco, encompassed the development of robust digestif lists and craft cocktail programs centered around the creation of housemade infusions. Jeff’s expertise in both local wines and modern spirits makes him a compelling sommelier, but his commitment to gracious hospitality renders him a natural leader on the Dry Creek Kitchen team.