Meet the Chef
It may taste like magic but it takes a talented team to create the mouthwatering dishes served up every night at Aerie Restaurant and Lounge. Meet the team that creates the culinary masterpieces.
Director of Culinary Bill Mathews
Director of Culinary - In June 2013, the Resort promoted its long-time Executive Sous Chef Bill Matthews to Director of Culinary, a position formerly known as Executive Chef. Chef Matthews, who started at the Resort in 2000, is now the Resort's top chef with over 25 years of culinary experience.
Chef Matthews oversees all culinary operations, kitchens, and over year-round 30 chefs and cooks, and up to 50 in summer. He grew into his culinary career with his family. He was co-owner (with his parents) and Chef de Cuisine at Roma’s on the Lake, in Torch Lake, Mich. from 1984 to 1998. After joining Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, he worked his way up through the ranks as Line Cook, Culinary Supervisor, Sous Chef, Executive Sous Chef, to Director of Culinary in 2013.
Chef Matthews is a versatile chef, and an avid golfer and outdoorsman. In 2007, he was awarded Culinary Star of the Industry during the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference.
Meet the Team
Aerie Sous Chef
Chef Nick Battista was born and raised in Traverse City. He graduated from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in 2005, and continued his education at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs West Virginia as a Culinary Apprentice until 2008.
Then he relocated to Las Vegas Nevada to be a Chef de Partie at Restaurant Charlie, a Charlie Trotter restaurant and also a Michelin-starred restaurant at The Palazzo. After the restaurants abrupt closure, Nick found his way to Seattle, to open and to be the Sous Chef of Hitchcock, a farm to table restaurant on Bainbridge Island. Hearing about its forthcoming closure, Nick returned to Charlie Trotter’s kitchen at Chef Trotter’s flagship restaurant in Chicago as a Chef de Partie, a Michelin two-star restaurant, where he was responsible for all of the fish cookery.
Following the celebrated restaurant’s closure, Nick made his way to Portland, Maine and became the Executive Sous Chef at Five Fifty-Five restaurant. After two seasons in Maine, Nick decided to return home.
As Aerie Sous Chef, he is the top chef at Aerie Restaurant & Lounge.
Resort Chef Mark Hamper joined Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in June 2013. Chef Hamper has over 20 years of culinary experience. He is a 1991 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Highlights of his experience include working as Chef De Partie at the five-diamond Four Seasons Hotel in New York and Maui, and as Banquet Chef at the 4,000-room Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, N.V. Chef Hamper was voted Las Vegas Banquet Chef of the Year in 2002 by the Quality Institute International. At Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Chef Mark’s talent and versatility allows him to step into any of the Resort’s kitchens, wherever and whenever needed.
Banquet Chef Larry Steffes has worked at the Resort in various culinary capacities since 2005 and is currently Banquet Sous Chef, a position he was promoted to in 2007. Chef Steffes is a 2002 graduate of the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in Traverse City, Mich. He oversees the day-to-day operations in the Tower Kitchen where banquet meals are prepared for events like the 1,000+ attendee Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and dinner.
Pastry Chef Stephanie Elwell joined Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in September 2013. Chef Stephanie’s specialty is cakes of all kinds, especially birthday and wedding cakes. Chef Stephanie graduated with honors in 2009 from Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas, Texas. Her experience includes operating her own successful business, Penny’s Cakes in Dallas, Texas and work at the Game Creek Club and The Arrabelle in Vail, Colo.
Saucier Dennis Wagner, who has worked at the Resort intermittently for over 10 years, most recently returned to the Resort in 2011. In addition to Saucier, he also works as the Resort’s Butcher. He won top honors during the Soup'r Bowl Competition at the 2012 and 2013 Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival for his Chicken Chipotle Soup. Dennis also received First Place for his Vegetarian Chili in the 2015 Downtown Traverse City Chili Cookoff.