After only a year at Pechanga Resort & Casino, Chef Jerome O’Reggio has landed a top restaurant chef position at Journey’s End at the resort and casino. The restaurant that caters to the golf and lunch crowd overlooks the first and 18th holes and south Temecula lush hillsides through floor to ceiling windows. Chef Jerome brings that sense of outside into his dishes daily. He infuses ingredients and flavors not commonly found in the Temecula Valley restaurant scene – faro and sweet potatoes, plantains, Jamaican curry and more.
Originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, Chef Jerome gained a love of food through observing and occasionally helping with his father’s side business as a caterer to big parties and weddings. He saw how food brings people together and brings them a sense of happiness.
At age 15, he was hooked on becoming a chef. After graduating high school, he enrolled in and graduated from the Kenilworth Academy of Culinary Arts. Before leaving the academy, his talents were noticed by recruiters from a five-star resort on the island called Half Moon Resort.
“It was like starting school all over again,” recounts the chef about beginning his culinary career at the ritzy vacation resort. He further honed his skills at high-end resorts in Scottsdale, Ariz., Horseshoe Bay, Texas, Hawaii and Indian Wells, Calif. When Pechanga Resort & Casino came calling looking for a sous chef to open its new Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar in January 2014, Chef Jerome jumped at the chance. When the Journey’s End head chef position opened in September 2014, he was an obvious choice.
“I like my dishes simple with standout flavors, but the presentation must be elegant and inviting,” he says. “We all eat with our eyes first. It’s true.” Using local and indigenous ingredients including Temecula olive oil (which he says is so good you can drink), he also infuses hints of his Jamaican heritage into the menu.
With a newborn baby and a top chef job, Chef Jerome admits life is pretty good, though he is the first to say he did not get to where he is by becoming complacent. Since October, items on the Journey’s End breakfast and lunch menus have received revamps, replacements and refreshes. He says the brunch menu is next for a rebrand, and diners can look out for his Jamaican-infused brunch and lunch specials to include an ode to his father’s specialties – plantains, escoviche, jerk chicken and more. “I could only hope to cook at his level, though I’m not sure I’ll ever get there,” the humble yet confident chef admits.
Come meet Chef Jerome at Journey’s End for breakfast, brunch and lunch every day from 7:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. Journey’s End Lounge is open for cocktails and appetizers from 11:00a.m. to 6:30p.m. daily.