New executive chef takes reins at Marcus Whitman

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A new executive chef is right in his element at the The Marc and the Vineyard Lounge.

Erik Johnson, who joined the kitchen staff at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center five years ago, has been picked to succeed Antonio Campolio as head of the culinary team.

Campolio has reportedly accepted a new opportunity in San Francisco.

In his new role, Johnson will oversee all culinary aspects of the property’s food and beverage services, including The Marc and Vineyard Lounge. His new culinary ideas will tie in fresh local ingredients, menu planning, staff oversight and mentoring, wedding and conference catering, and menus for specialty events, the announcement explained.

“Erik’s passion and genuine enthusiasm for cooking, as well as his professional experience and dedication to using the freshest local, seasonal ingredients make him a true asset to the Marcus Whitman family,” said Marcus Whitman owner and General Manager Kyle Mussman in a prepared statement. “We look forward to the creative new dishes and fresh ideas his seasoned knowledge will offer our guests.”

Johnson joined the Marcus Whitman staff in 2009 as a sous chef. Two years later, he was promoted to executive sous chef.

He attended the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy in 2001. Afterward he worked as a sous chef at the Brix in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he also oversaw the owner’s transition into the Steak and Chophouse as executive chef.

According to the Marcus Whitman website, Johnson’s flair for food extends to Italian, French and Spanish cuisines, plus barbecue.

“I believe in thoughtful, simple food that offers intrigue with layers of flavor,” he said in a prepared statement. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside some incredibly talented chefs throughout my career, and strive to build on the success that the restaurant and lounge have already experienced.”

Campolio joined the Marcus Whitman staff in February 2011. That year and the next, he competed in and won the Tri-Cities Chefs on Parade. He also created a Walla Walla-themed meal at the James Beard House on Dec. 12, 2012. In a statement on the Marcus Whitman website he called the invitation and meal preparation “the experience of a lifetime.”

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity as well as for the support of the Mussmans, the Marcus Whitman Hotel and the 100-strong staff, as well as my crew and the community.”

The Marc is open daily for dinner starting at 5:30 p.m.; the Vineyard Lounge opens at 4 p.m. For more details visit marcuswhitmanhotel.com or call 525-2200.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, vickihillhouse@wwub.com or on Twitter.

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