Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa’s Chef Neri

A diabetic pastry chef may seem as contradictory as a fisherman with aquaphobia, but for Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa’s Neri Tiburcio—diagnosed with type 2 of the disease five years ago—it’s proven to be no problem at all. Just one of the ways he takes good care of himself and his health is to monitor portion sizes when tasting his confections.

Neri is a longtime employee of the property, having begun in 1983 when it was known as the Marriott Rancho Las Palmas. After working three months in stewarding, he transferred to the bakery, where he would make croissants and other pastries in the afternoon while also helping with banquets. After just five years, he was promoted to head assistant pastry chef. Two years later, Marriott sent Neri to Washington, D.C. (all expenses paid) to formalize his study of the art of baking. When he returned, they rewarded him with the head pastry chef post.

Marriott’s generous genius turned into Omni’s gain. In addition to creating all the breathtaking desserts served at Rancho Las Palmas’ signature restaurant bluEmber, Neri (and his team of elves) are the people responsible for the gigantic gingerbread house display exhibited each year in the resort’s lobby for all to enjoy. But beware: Look. Don’t eat!

Neri’s top five favorite things about his job are teaching coworkers, designing wedding cakes, envisioning and assembling the Yuletide gingerbread presentation, producing chocolate centerpieces, and keeping things fresh by forever researching new ideas and recipes. And the man is extremely thankful for all of it.

“After 31 years, this place has become my home, and my coworkers and guests have become my family,” he says. “To go from baking croissants part-time to crafting unbelievable gingerbread creations, I’ve been on a lifelong, ever-changing journey here.” Sweet! www.rancholaspalmas.com

Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa’s Chef Neri