Meet the Chefs

Executive Chef Kristian Wade

Beau Rivage

Chef Kristian Wade graduated from the School of Culinary Arts, a division of The Art Institute of Atlanta, in June 1998 with an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. 

In Atlanta, he worked at the award-winning Murphys Restaurant in the Virginia Highlands, where he was responsible for daily creations including the Chef's Special, Catch and Appetizer. Next, he served as chef de cuisine at Germaine’s Fine Dining in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where the focus was great food paired with outstanding wines. 

Born in Pascagoula, Mississippi and taught to cook by his grandmother, Chef Wade was on the original Beau Rivage opening team in 1999. Chef Wade has moved through the numerous kitchens and up the culinary ranks at Beau Rivage. Since beginning as sous chef in Memphis Q Steakhouse and Barbecue Restaurant to steadily being promoted to chef de cuisine at Coast Brewing Company, Memphis Q and the Terrace Café, on to being promoted to the chef tournant position and assisting in opening the resort’s extensive Cook and Chill facility, Chef Wade has experienced many culinary facets of Beau Rivage. In January 2007, he was promoted to executive sous chef and in March 2015 he was promoted to Executive Chef where he is responsible for Beau Rivage’s day-to-day culinary operations.

Wade’s talent has earned him accolades throughout his career. He recently cooked alongside Chef Irvine on the Food Network’s Dinner Impossible and he has received numerous awards including first place wins at The World Championship of Gumbo in New Iberia, Louisiana, Puttin’ on the Roux Gumbo Cook Off in Biloxi, and the Biloxi Shrimp Festival. Tack on several barbecue awards and there’s no doubt Chef Kristian knows his way around a kitchen.

EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF JAMES BALSTER

BEAU RIVAGE 

The Connecticut native comes to South Mississippi from Greensboro, Georgia where he honed his skills at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation. Classicly trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Balster also learned the art of cooking by working as a Chef in resturants and hotels in Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

Chef Balster‘s love for culinary stems from spending time with family. “The first experience I remember about cooking was on my grandparent’s farm in Iowa,” says Balster. Cooking was always a family event growing up. All family gatherings seemed to end up in the kitchen or at the table involving a large meal. I started getting involved because it brought me closer to my family, and I realized that it helped make memories and made people happy.”

While he can’t pinpoint a favorite food to prepare, Chef Balster relishes in designing dining experiences that create lasting memories. When dining at Beau Rivage, make a point to try a daily chef’s special which often includes local and regional classics mixed with tasty twists.

EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF KENNETH C. TAYLOR

BEAU RIVAGE 

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino recently welcomed the talent of Kenneth C. Taylor as executive sous chef. Taylor is a Mississippi Gulf Coast native who has returned home after 25 years away and brings with him a list of notable accomplishments at many luxury resorts and hotels.  He joins Beau Rivage after serving most recently as executive banquet chef for Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles.

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Taylor has spent more than 20 years in the hospitality industry after starting his career as banquet sous chef at The Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Fla. Taylor’s love for culinary arts came during a semester internship while studying business administration. The internship landed him working in the kitchen at Walt Disney World. The experience made such an impact he decided to pursue a career in culinary arts.  Taylor’s career in the resort and hospitality industry has taken him all across the United States, including Key West where he spent time as executive sous chef and executive chef at LXR Luxury Resorts.  

Taylor enjoys meeting new people and seeing new places and participated in a culinary task force for seven years.  He is glad to be back on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a part of the MGM Resorts International/Beau Rivage team. Taylor oversees the functions and services for banquets, garde manger, Beau Rivage main kitchen, The Buffet and Terrace Café. Past accomplishments include Manager of the Year in Orlando, Fla., Manager of the Quarter in Key West, Fla., and most recently declared champion of the inaugural Battle of the Chefs competition at Beau Rivage. 

While trained in classical French technique, Taylor ranks Mexican food as his favorite to eat.  

Executive Chef Jason Carlisle

BR Prime

As head chef of Beau Rivage’s signature steakhouse, Jason Carlisle directs kitchen staff in ensuring only the finest cuts of steak and freshest seafood are prepared at the Forbes Recommended, Wine Spectator and AAA Four Diamond award-winning establishment. With nearly 20 years of chef experience, Carlisle joined Beau Rivage in September 2015.

Carlisle grew up in Sparta, Wisconsin, on a cattle ranch, where the land provided the bulk of the family’s meals. He fondly remembers working on the farm with his brothers and helping tend to his mother’s vegetable garden. A culinary career came naturally to Carlisle, who was classically trained in Madison, Wisconsin, before moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Carlisle was sous chef at Grand Casino in Biloxi before quickly moving to chef de cuisine at the casino’s steak and seafood restaurants. After Hurricane Katrina, Carlisle moved to Lake Tahoe, where his creations garnered attention in regional and travel magazines. In 2007, he jumped on the opportunity to return to Biloxi when Caesars Entertainment promoted him to executive chef.  He achieved multiple gold medal wins at the Southern Gaming Summit competition, had many signature items featured in The Seven Stars Cookbook and was named Best Chef of the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Southern Breeze magazine.

Carlisle says his farm upbringing remains influential to his style. “Because I grew up raising cattle and eating what was grown on our land, it instilled a desire to create dishes that are locally sourced, grounded in fresh ingredients and please the palate,” Carlisle says. Chef Carlisle’s knowledge and expertise of beef are equally matched by his love of seafood. His favorite food to prepare is fresh Gulf seafood and looks forward to every service at BR Prime.

Chef Ayoung Chang

Jia

Chef Ayoung Chang began her culinary studies in 2000 in Seoul, South Korea, at Woo-Song University. This was when she realized she had a deep passion for the culinary arts. Her first job was with the Grand Hilton Hotel Seoul. There she got involved in every aspect of the field, including chef and general manager. She also cut her teeth in the banquet kitchen, serving both Korean and Western styles of food. Chef Ayoung first came to the United States in 2005 to work for the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, Nevada, for two years while expanding her culinary experience.

Chef Ayoung came to Mississippi in 2013 to Beau Rivage, where her skills were put to good use in Stalla, Main Kitchen, Cook Chill and finally in Jia as sous chef. She worked her way to Executive Chef in Jia. Chef Ayoung’s cooking style is Asian fusion with a Korean flavor.

From 2002 to 2008, Chef Ayoung was part of the Korean National Team “SURA.” She went to Singapore to take place in the individual cooking competition, where Chef Ayoung brought home the Bronze medal.

In 2012, Chef Ayoung went to Shanghai to the BOCUSE D’OR ASIAN with the National Korean culinary team to compete with great teams from around Asia as a team coach. Chef Ayoung participated in the 2009 Asian Culinary Cup in Bangkok, Thailand, where they received a Silver medal for their skills. Finally in 2012 Chef Ayoung went to Luxemburg to the Culinary Olympics, where she received a Gold medal.

From 2007 to 2009, Chef Ayoung worked at Dam-Um Restaurant in Seoul as executive chef/general manager. She helped develop a Korean/Italian menu while keeping very high standards for her customers, employees and herself.

In 2010, Chef Ayoung went to Seattle for Bientus F&B to bring a taste of traditional Korean cuisine to the Pacific Northwest. She put together a Bibimbap menu for a major franchise project. From 2011 to 2013, Chef Ayoung worked on a big franchise project in Seoul for Black Smith Italian-style restaurant as executive chef. She also worked on the concept for a restaurant that served a menu of locally sourced products. She helped open more than 88 restaurants in one year.

Chef Paola Bugli

Stalla

Paola Bugli is in many ways considered a codifier of Italian cooking techniques. Hailing from Florence, Italy with nearly 20 years of culinary experience, Bugli offers diners a wealth of skill gained at some of the country's top Italian restaurants. She has worked with renowned chefs in Atlanta’s most exclusive restaurants and her unparalleled experiences now bring her to Stalla inside Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.

Bugli attended the Institute of Culinary Arts at Aurelio Saffi in Firenze, Italy where she gained a deep knowledge of traditional and contemporary Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. After mastering her craft in Italy, Bugli traveled to Atlanta, Georgia and began her stateside career as a Sous Chef at Terra di Siena Italian Restaurant. There she assisted the Executive Chef and rounded out her practice in Tuscan cuisine, including the production of fresh pasta and traditional desserts.

Soon she had worked her way through the ranks as a Pastry Chef, Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine and Head Chef at renowned restaurants such as Veni Vidi Vici and Pricci’s in Atlanta’s Buckhead Life Restaurants Group. Her constant stellar performance in the art of cuisine quickly lead her to embrace opportunity.

Her ambitions lead her to St. Louis, Missouri in 2010, where she became the Executive Room Chef at The House of Savoy. There she managed the Cascade Lounge in Hotelumier in St. Louis, designed special menus and hosted hotel banquets. Her global experience continued to encourage her creativity in the culinary arts.

Constantly submerging herself into new successes, Bugli accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine Tavola inside The Cloister at Sea Island Resorts in Sea Island, Georgia in 2012. There, she contributed in the initial kitchen and operation installation, setup and opening. As Chef de Cuisine, she continued her talent in organizing private parties and banquets and created a specialty menu for each. Her distinctive experiences in the resort and restaurant industry quickly advanced her professional career. In 2013, she moved to Biloxi, Mississippi where Beau Rivage Resort & Casino proudly welcomed Chef Bugli to Stalla as its freshest addition.

Chef Sarah Cormier

Coast Restaurant

Chef Sarah Cormier brings a wealth of culinary knowledge to Beau Rivage. As Restaurant Chef for Coast, she ensures Coast delivers the heartiest lunches and dinners and provides the best casual dining experience in the region. Before joining Coast, Cormier was Memphis Q Room Chef and has also led the staff at The Buffet, one of Beau Rivage’s most high profile venues. With more than nine years experience cooking in kitchens across the world, this Boston-born, internationally trained chef has quickly adopted South Mississippi as home.

Classically trained at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, Cormier began her culinary career as kitchen manager and line cook at a small pub and restaurant in Narragansett, Rhode Island. A quick study who’s eager to learn new concepts, Cormier expanded her repertoire with international experience in Surrey, England. During her time as commis chef at The Wentworth Club, she served up to 2,500 guests during the British Match Play Golf Tournament. In the quest to continue developing her skills, Cormier moved from England to Queensland, Australia, to hone her talents at Couran Cove Island Resort. Her next stop brought her closer to home, where she was Banquets Kitchen sous chef at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Cormier joined the Beau Rivage family in September 2010 and quickly moved up the ranks. In addition to leading staffs in Beau Rivage’s restaurants, Cormier has assisted at the resort’s Employee Dining Room.

Chef Jaison Sheckart

Fallen Oak

Jaison Sheckart began working at Beau Rivage in February of 1999 as part of the resort’s opening team. Sheckart began as lead cook at Café Jardin and was later promoted to sous chef of both Café Jardin and Coast. After Hurricane Katrina, Sheckart returned to Beau Rivage and assisted with the opening of Terrace Café. In October of 2006, Sheckart was promoted to the position of chef at Fallen Oak Golf Course. At Fallen Oak, Sheckart is responsible for satisfying the taste buds of all golf enthusiasts who frequent Beau Rivage. 

Born in Southbend, Indiana, Sheckart was raised in Long Beach, Mississippi. He attended Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Louisiana, and participated in the Associate of Applied Studies ACF Apprenticeship Program. He is currently a member of the New Orleans Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. 

Before beginning his career at Beau Rivage, Sheckart had 15 years of culinary experience on the Gulf Coast. He worked in several different well-known restaurants including Chappy’s Restaurant and The Chimney’s Restaurant in Long Beach; Copeland’s in New Orleans; Back Bay Buffet at the IP Casino Resort Spa; and Sister’s at the Grand Casino Biloxi.

A graduate of the MGM MIRAGE Management Development Program, Shechart is a Beau Rivage Diversity Champion.   

Chef Mark Agent

Terrace Cafe

Born and raised in South Mississippi, Mark Agent considers Southern cuisine his forte. From a very early age, he spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmother, whose passion and love for cooking for her family inspired him to pursue a career in the culinary arts. One of Agent’s fondest memories comes from the time when his grandmother allowed him to make a roux for her gumbo and the great feeling of accomplishment that accompanied it.

Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he developed his culinary knowledge by constantly trying new recipes for those close to him.

Shortly after graduating high school, Agent completed his culinary degree at Delgado Community College in New Orleans and then started his career at Beau Rivage as a pantry cook at what was then Coast Brewing Company.

Now, after spending more than 14 years with Beau Rivage in various outlets, including Stalla and Banquets, Agent says he still comes to work every day looking for new ways to express his love of the culinary arts.

“There is nothing more pleasing than watching people feel as passionate about eating the food I prepare as I do about cooking it,” he says. “The ability to share my passion with friends and family through culinary expression is what drives me to continue to develop my career in all aspects of the industry.”