meet the chef
meet the chef
At 24 years of age, Merhej is the youngest member of the culinary team to earn the position of Chef de Cuisine. She has been an integral part of the resort since opening and contributed greatly to the development of mar'sel. Prior to joining Terranea Resort as sous chef in 2009, Merhej earned her stripes at Chef Kerry Simon's celebrated restaurant, Simon LA. Since then she has spent the last three years honing her culinary skills and working alongside award-winning Terranea Resort Executive Sous Chef and mentor Michael Fiorelli and under the tutelage of the highly acclaimed Destination Hotels & Resorts Corporate Executive Chef Christian Schmidt. Merhej earned a degree in culinary arts from the Kitchen Academy in Los Angeles, which is now the Le Cordon Bleu.
Inspired by her family, Merhej was cooking and preparing food at an early age and fondly recalls childhood memories helping her grandmother and father in the kitchen. The family's Lebanese heritage was evident in the cuisine at mealtime and signified home-cooked comfort. Her background and passion for exploring new cuisine continues to influence her creations in the kitchen.
Now at the helm of mar'sel, Merhej's dynamic interpretation of a classic, California-inspired menu is enhanced through European and Mediterranean influences. She is committed to utilizing local, seasonal ingredients to develop farm-to-table menu offerings that change daily. Her sophisticated presentations and strict attention to detail deliver innovative cuisine featuring fresh and delectable ingredients. Merhej's inspiration for cooking is fueled by, "the joy that is felt in creating happiness for others through unique dining experience." She takes pride in helping to create lasting memories for guests that dine at mar'sel.
In addition to her time spent in the restaurant, Merhej is also committed to supporting and serving the philanthropic and culinary community. mar'sel continues to take part in prestigious food and wine events throughout Southern California and around the country such as the renowned Aspen Food & Wine Festival, Los Angeles Food & Wine, Los Angeles Times ‘The Taste,' as well as the annual Manhattan Beach Wine Auction and Cart for a Cause, Los Angeles.