Our amazing chefs

Chef cliff denney at urg

chef cliff denny

Culinary Director

With thirty years experience as a chef, Cliff began his career in his hometown of Bexhill, East Sussex in the United Kingdom while also attending culinary school. Afterward, moving to Kent and later London as a chef at the 5 Star Hyatt Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge which specialized in classic French cooking. After a few years, Cliff opened Grissini London in the same space, a restaurant serving fine dining Italian. His culinary talent is refined, spanning many cuisines over the decades.

Outside of his passion for food, Cliff has traveled extensively and loves the outdoors. He enjoys fishing, camping, and the beach. He even caught a 500+ pound Blue Marlin while deep sea fishing!

Cliff has lived in many places throughout his culinary career including the U.S. Virgin Islands where he met his wife Erika as well as Georgia where they started a family and had their two children, Keira and Annika. Other places Cliff has lived and worked include: Washington DC, Florida, Anguilla, New York City, Nevada, and now Oregon. We are proud to have him as our culinary director.

chef rob at urg

CHEF ROB HOLLEN

Culinary Director for Urban Restaurant Group

With a rich career of 37 years, Chef Rob Hollen’s culinary journey began unexpectedly at an Oyster Bar just after high school, leading him to the Western Culinary Institute. Outside the kitchen, Rob enjoys antiquing with his wife, golf, snowboarding, organic gardening, and food preservation, reflecting his diverse interests.

A family man at heart, Rob has been married for 33 years and is a proud father and grandfather. His life is filled with unique experiences, from backpacking through Western Europe to being the lead singer of a punk band, Brain Dead. Although he has won awards, Rob sees his achievements not in competitions but in the joy his cooking brings.

Chef Rob Hollen’s story is not just about his culinary skills but about a life lived with passion, adventure, and a deep commitment to family.

chef adrian cervantes at urg

CHEF ADRIAN CERVANTES

Chef de Cuisine for Urban Restaurant Group

This is the man behind many of the delicious recipes at Pearl Catering.  Chef de Cuisine, Adrian Cervantes, is in charge of ensuring every single new addition to our family has a unique, tasty, one of a kind food menu that differentiates it from others.  He likes to incorporate many flavors that remind him of his hometown in Mexico.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, 5 kids, and Yorkshire, Mima!  He loves cooking for friends and family when he’s not whipping up new dishes and recipes in the Urban Restaurant Group or Pearl Catering kitchen.  He’s a big foodie and enjoys eating out at different, new and upcoming places.  Chef Adrian enjoys playing and watching football, aka soccer, staying fit and healthy as he works out 5 days a week, and every now and then, taking a family vacation somewhere new. 

Two things not many know about Chef Adrian is that he likes to play the accordion and guitar!  

CHEF MICHAEL SHULTZ at urg

CHEF MICHAEL SHULTZ

Chef de Cuisine for Urban Restaurant Group

Chef Michael A. Schultz brings over 50 years of culinary expertise, starting his career alongside his grandmother at the Mendocino Hotel in California. His love for the outdoors, including hiking, hunting, and fishing, deeply influences his cooking. With a strong commitment to community service, Schultz volunteers regularly and enjoys spending time with his four children and six grandchildren.

Recognized for his culinary contributions, Schultz was knighted into the Royal Rosarians and served on the Le Cordon Bleu board of advisors. A graduate with honors from the Western Culinary Institute, his work has been featured in the Lake Oswego Review. Schultz’s philosophy centers on service, teaching, and mentoring, embodying the true spirit of a culinary mentor.

Executive Chef at The Palm Court 

Executive Chef, Humberto Rivera, of The Palm Court inside The Benson Hotel began his 20+ years in the culinary arts working in a small Italian restaurant in Mexico city as a waiter.  Finding enjoyment in the restaurant industry, Humberto decided to further his studies and enrolled in culinary school.  Upon completion, he worked in a variety of roles in various states, helping to open several restaurants in Seattle, Colorado, California, Nebraska, Las Vegas, and finally in Portland, Oregon.  

For the past several years, Rivera lead the culinary teams at BRIX Tavern in The Pearl downtown Portland, contributing his vast experience and gastronomic creativity to the restaurant’s outstanding menu.  He recently changed locations, and is now the lead at The Palm Court restaurant inside The Benson Hotel in downtown Portland.  Outside of the kitchen, Humberto enjoys the great outdoors and spending time with his wife and two daughters.  He can often be found hiking, camping, or enjoying the lakes and mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Nelson Orlando UC Tep at urg

CHEF NELSON ORLANDO UC TEP

Taco Master at Carlita’s in the Pearl

Taco Master of Carlita’s in the Pearl, Nelson Orlando UC Tep has worked in the culinary industry for the past 14 years. Originally from Yucatan, where his family still resides, Orlando grew up in a large family with 5 siblings. Following a move to the US, Nelson began working in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher and gradually worked his way up to leading the kitchen staff at Carlita’s. A dedicated family man, Nelson spends his free time with his family, listening to Cumbria music, watching action movies, and barbequing.

Chef Jacob Henrichs at urg

CHEF JACOB HENRICHS

Executive Chef at Gordon Tavern & Carlita’s Rooftop

Chef Jacob Henrichs began his 12-year culinary career with a focus on baking, quickly expanding his passion to encompass all facets of cooking. He balances his professional dedication with personal interests, enjoying fantasy novels, cookbooks, and making pasta with his children.

An avid lover of the outdoors, Jacob’s hobbies span hiking, biking, and global baking, reflecting his adventurous spirit. With his wife and four children in Omaha, his life is a blend of culinary exploration and family joy.

Jacob’s journey is characterized by an eagerness to learn and innovate, notably in experimenting with unusual ingredients. Although not decorated with awards, his commitment to culinary arts and family shines through, marking him as a chef who values growth and togetherness.

Chef, Joey Hart, of Metropolitan Tavern urg

CHEF JOEY HART

Executive Chef at Metropolitan Tavern

Executive Chef, Joey Hart, of Metropolitan Tavern has worked in the culinary industry for 17 years. His passion for cooking began at 5 years old, helping his grandmother work in the kitchen. Having grown up on a farm during the Great Depression, Hart’s grandmother, Billie Sue, did everything by hand and passed that knowledge on to her grandson.

Following an accident in the oil fields of Texas in 2005, Chef Hart decided it was time for a career change and immersed himself in the culinary arts. His efforts have been recognized by the Huffington Post and Hart has been the recipient of both the People’s Choice and Judges awards in the Bourbon & Bacon Fest in 2015 and 2016.

When he is not creating gastronomic magic in the kitchen, Joey can be found spending time with his partner and children in the outdoors, producing music, or practicing regenerative agriculture at home.

Chef Jesus Merchant-Solis at brix urg

CHEF JESUS MERCHANT-SOLIS

Executive Chef at BRIX Tavern in Portland

Chef Jesus Merchant-Solis, a third-generation cook with two years of professional experience, hails from Zihuatanejo, where his family has been a culinary staple. His grandfather pioneered the town’s first carnitas spot, sparking a tradition that now sees about 20 similar establishments. Jesus’s journey in cooking is a tribute to his family’s rich legacy, combined with his passion for exploring new dining experiences.

Outside the kitchen, Jesus indulges in photography, video games, and driving, pursuits that reflect his creative and exploratory spirit. His academic background is as diverse as his interests, holding a bachelor’s degree in international business and having briefly explored med school, humorously noting he’s “7% doctor.”

Though early in his career, Jesus’s dedication to culinary innovation, rooted in deep family traditions, makes him a promising talent in the culinary world.

Chef Pascual Antonio at brix tualatin urg

CHEF PASCUAL ANTONIO

Executive Chef at BRIX Tavern in Tualatin

Chef Pascual Antonio brings 13 years of culinary passion to the table, a journey that began uniquely in farming. This transition from cultivating the land to crafting dishes has infused his cooking with a deep appreciation for fresh ingredients. Embracing the opportunity to become a chef, Pascual has never looked back, finding his true calling in the kitchen.

Outside his professional life, Pascual is devoted to his family, enjoying every moment with his wife and their five-year-old daughter. A former farmer, he remains closely tied to his large, tight-knit family, carrying forward the values of unity and the joy of shared meals.

Pascual keeps active with running and frequent gym sessions, reflecting his commitment to health that mirrors his culinary philosophy. His unique path from farming to cooking highlights a chef deeply connected to his roots, blending tradition and innovation in every dish he creates.

CHEF JUAN ARREDONDO at brix keizer at urg

CHEF JUAN ARREDONDO

Executive Chef at BRIX Tavern in Keizer

Chef Juan Arredondo’s culinary journey began at 17 in an Outback Steakhouse, sparking a 27-year career marked by continuous growth across all restaurant roles. His life outside the kitchen is equally rich, filled with beach outings with his children, music, and sports coaching, reflecting his multifaceted interests.

Juan’s large family, including seven children, is central to his life, with backyard barbecues symbolizing his perfect blend of culinary passion and family values. Despite being a picky eater, Juan’s dedication to quality enhances his culinary creations. His commitment to well-being is underscored by a daily yoga practice, contributing to his balanced approach to life and cooking.

Juan’s story is a testament to his love for the culinary arts, dedication to family, and a personal journey of growth and excellence.

Chef Emmett Frasier at urg

CHEF EMMETT FRASIER

Executive Chef at Taylor Street Tavern & Swine Moonshine

Chef Emmett Frasier began his journey in the culinary world at the tender age of 13, starting in the back of a kitchen at the Original Taco House. His consistent work in kitchens over the years naturally carved out his career path in the gastronomy sector.

In his downtime, Emmett is dedicated to family life, enjoying moments with his partner Maddy, their infant son Enzo, and his older son Otis. When he’s not in the kitchen or with family, he can be found tending to his garden, golfing, or adding to his sneaker collection.

A surprising twist in his life includes a close call with a table saw, nearly costing him three fingers. Despite this, Emmett has remained unfazed in his culinary pursuits. His commitment to his craft and his family shines through in every aspect of his life.

Chef Daniel Velazco at urg

CHEF DANIEL VELAZCO

Executive Chef for Pearl Catering

With 25 years in the culinary arts, Chef Daniel Velazco traces his roots back to the vibrant streets of Mexico City, assisting his mother in her bustling street food venture. At home, he cherishes moments with his partner, two children, and a lively ensemble of four dogs, three horses, and a pony.

When he’s not orchestrating dishes, Daniel embraces the energy of soccer and tennis, and channels his creativity through his music and drawing—skills that have earned him artistic acclaim. Daniel’s passion is his guiding force, bringing an artistic flair to every dish and endeavor.

This zeal for life extends to his community involvement, often participating in local events and sharing his culinary vision. Daniel’s spirited approach to cuisine and creativity makes every meal an experience and every encounter a chance to inspire.

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