DENNIS MARRON \\ Chef Owner
Bringing more than 25 years of restaurant, business and kitchen experience to the table, Dennis Marron has a clear vision for or, The Whale’s journey. Navigating his way from the front of the line in house positions, tackling behind the bar and every level in the kitchen, you can expect to find Dennis hands on and curating every detail of OTW.
His Pittsburgh roots run deep as he previous came from working as Executive Chef of The Commoner, the Commoner Corner and the Biergarten in Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh. Prior to his move to the steel city, Dennis successfully lead the kitchen of the acclaimed Poste Moderne Brasserie, located in Washington D.C.
Familiar with the Nation’s capital, Marron won accolades or his culinary work at Jackson 20 and The Grille at Morrison House in Alexandria, VA. True to his curious sense of nature, he’s honed his skills in prestigious kitchens around America from D.C. to W.A. Frost and Company Restaurant and Craftsman Restaurant inMinneapolis to Mecca and Indigo in West coast’s bay area to Molly Pitcher Inn at a historic, luxury hotel overlooking the Navesink River in Red Bank, New Jersey.
With or, The Whale, Dennis plans on giving diners an experience full of sensory experiences with a diverse and distinct menu, unwavering hospitality, extensive bar program, thrilling design and the old-world charm of Moby Dick to tie it all together.
Marron earned his culinary degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He studied physical education at High Point University in North Carolina until he realized his passion for cooking and the restaurant business. Marron is an avid runner, biker and hiker, and has participated in many athletic races around the country, including two full marathons and a few halves. Dennis lives in Lawrenceville just down the street from his new restaurant.
Brooks Hart \\ Chef de Cuisine
Charismatic and full of life, Chef Brooks Hart is one that is sure to brighten up your day. When he was a young boy living in Michigan, Brooks became enamored by people like Julia Child and Emeril. These innovators on television in the kitchen, creating culinary masterpeices on their cooking shows made a significant impact on him. That’s when it began, Brooks' dreams became aspirations, and he started to cook anything he could possibly find in his kitchen. Spending time with his grandmother in the kitchen baking bread and closely watching his mother make dumplings instilled a traditional cooking style from his family’s Hungarian and Polish roots.
Taking the next step in culinary education, Brooks left Michigan and attended the The Art Institute of America to receive a degree in Culinary Arts.
Soon after, he took on the role of Executive Chef at Bar Pastoral in Chicago, growing the restaurant’s foundation and turning them into a highly acclaimed wine and cheese establishment in the area.
Departing Pastoral, Chef Brooks began his next role with the distinguished underground supper club, Dinner Lab. Here, he was given the opportunity to travel the country, growing his culinary experience while working the nation’s most prestigious chefs and culinary influencers. Hart set up creative and innovative pop-up restaurants that introduced a new style of cooking and ground breaking food.
A force within the cooking industry, Chef Brooks Hart is a strong leader with a unique style of cooking mixed and an array of culinary skills from various cuisines. His ultimate goal is to make people smile with his refined comfort style of cooking as he once did back in the kitchen with his Grandmother.
JESSICA LEWIS \\ DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania, Jessica grew up as a goal-setting and driven swimmer within the state. Graduating from the University of Virginia, majored in economics and was a nationally recognized full-scholarship swimmer. Lewis set out on a career in finance, working in asset management at Vanguard in Philadelphia. She realized this was not the path she saw for herself and left her 9-5 job behind. Never looking back, she packed up and moved to New York City to take a chance on a dream and enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education.
The thrill of the NYC restaurant scene excited her, and so she stuck around for three years working her way through the city. During her time in New York, she took another chance and tried out, was accepted and competed on Hell's Kitchen's Season 11. Winning showdowns and charging forward, she was eventually eliminated for "a lack of passion and emotion." This has since been her driving force to prove Gordon Ramsey wrong!
She moved to Pittsburgh to run the catering program at Heinz Field for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After that, she signed on to open The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, The Commoner Restaurant, The Commoner Corner and the Roof Top Biergarten. Then came along the next opportunity - to run her own restaurant concept inside Smallman Galley in The Strip District. And, Carota Cafe was born. A locally sourced menu that gave a spotlight to seasonal vegetables and focusing on all-local purveyors. After this successful 18-month incubation period at the Galley. And then, came or, The Whale.
Jessica is a lifelong athlete; collegiate swimmer and avid runner. For her, she understands the importance of a healthful diet and lifestyle. Her passion for food and fueling her inner-terrain drives her to provide food that is nourishing yet warms your soul.
ERIC MOORER \\ SOMMELIER
Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Eric returned to his iron city roots with a deep sense of hospitality already deeply ingrained into his mind. Starting off in the service industry, he rolled up his sleeves and gained experience as a barista and coffee roaster at Folks’ Café in Wilmington, North Carolina while managing his college academics. Heading North, back to Pittsburgh, Eric began serving at The Sonoma Grille which housed a 300-bottle, domestic wine list. You can guess what came next, it wasn’t long before he become fascinated with the aromas, flavors, and production of wine. With a drive and motivation to become knowledgable on all things wine, he was soon promoted to bartender, where a more direct relationship with the guest and a deeper understanding of the wine program was needed. In late 2014, he began his studies of wine through the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust. In 2015, he moved to Pizzaiolo Primo to focus his studies on Italian Wine as a bartender before quickly working his way to being the Beverage Manager. In 2016, he completed his Certification of the WSET and recently began taking Diploma Level courses.
If he does not have a book in one hand, and a glass of Chenin Blanc in the other, you can find him jet-setting through Europe, screaming at televisions at Piper’s Pub during the Premier League season, or more likely pouring you the ideal glass of wine for your evening out.
ADAM BATES \\ PASTRY CHEF
Adam was born in 1989 in Allison Park, just north of Pittsburgh. He studied studio art before taking a job as a dishwasher at Avenue B in Pittsburgh. There he was taught the basics of cooking and learned to love the artistry, focus, and attention to detail required. After rising through the ranks, Bates decided to try his hand at pastry and took a job at Gaby et Jules Patisseries et Macarons in Squirrel Hill, rising to the rank of Executive Sous Chef after two and a half years. From there the opportunity arose to work abroad in New Zealand, a country he had previously spent a few months backpacking through. He worked as Executive Pastry Chef at Blanket Bay, one of that country's finest 5-star lodges, where the dining was of paramount focus and where each guest was treated to a daily-changing 8-course tasting menu, often catered to their own individual tastes. After spending one season in the south island, he travelled briefly through Japan before landing a job as Executive Pastry Chef for Dominique Ansel, 2017's 'best pastry chef in the world', according to San Pellegrino. He worked in New York with his team to develop the menu for his newly-opened LA location, but decided to move home to be with family in the city he loves. Adam is excited to share his passion for fine pastry with Iron City.