With 11 on-site restaurants, annual food and wine tastings, and numerous Club events and banquets, Reynolds Lake Oconee is truly a one-of-a-kind culinary destination. Led by Executive Chef Zouhair Bellout, the world-class Culinary team at Reynolds holds high standards of culinary execution with the intent to consistently exceed the expectations of our Members and guests.

With this standard of excellence comes the challenge of continually offering our Members new tasting opportunities and experiences. This is partly done by Chef Z's consistently-changing menus that are carefully developed to keep things fresh for Reynolds Members and feature innovative and fun twists on traditional favorites. To expand the culinary repertoire at Reynolds, we also recently added a new Member to the Reynolds Culinary team - in a role we've never had at Reynolds.

Chef de Patisserie Luisa Trabanino is the first full-time Pastry Chef at Reynolds. We sat down with Chef Luisa to learn more about her background, her career in pastries, and what Reynolds Members have to look forward to.

Hi Luisa! We're so excited to have you join the Reynolds Lake Oconee team. Let’s start by covering a bit of your background before coming to Reynolds.

I'm excited to be at Reynolds Lake Oconee! I was born in Medellin, Colombia, and studied at the ECCI Arts Institute in Bogota, Colombia. In my career as a pastry chef, I have had the opportunity of working in several different states and within large companies such as The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Marquis, golf clubs, restaurants, and many more locations. I have also had the opportunity of forming pastry kitchens in places that have never had pastry chefs before, such as what I'm doing now at Reynolds.

How long have you been a Pastry Chef?

I have been doing what I love for the past fifteen years.

You’re the first full-time Pastry Chef that we’ve had at Reynolds! What excites you about this role and working for Reynolds Lake Oconee?

Being the first pastry chef at Reynolds Lake Oconee has been a unique experience. From forming my own kitchen to preparing menus, the experience is always both a challenge and a joy. It's always great seeing the excitement from the Members as I meet them at events and they taste my desserts for the first time.

Choosing a career in the culinary arts can take you many different routes and offers an almost innumerable amount of specialties – what made you want to specialize in pastries?

I love being a pastry chef! Ever since I was little I would watch my grandma bake in her pastry shop, and observing her hard work and dedication over the years made me become very interested in baking. I was six years old when I first learned to make cookies, and from that moment my curiosity about pastries began to exponentially grow. I also remember learning how to make bread with my grandmother when I was just twelve years old and l loved seeing her face of excitement when she carried the bread out of the oven. She always said that good bread was the best decoration for a dinner table. When I came to the United States, I began working with chocolate. It is one of my favorite ingredients to work with. The elaboration, the form of creating and giving life to chocolate is incredible and a unique experience.

Since joining the Reynolds Culinary team, what events have you participated in? Any highlights so far?

Having just started in April, I've already had the opportunity of creating different desserts for wine dinners, Easter brunch, Mother's Day brunch, and the annual Member-Guest tournament! Being a part of Member-Guest and the wine events was an amazing experience as I met many Members, and getting to know them while representing the pastry department has been delightful.

What is your creative process like when creating a new dessert? Do you have an idea in mind, or go into the kitchen completely open?

Making a dessert is very exciting. I begin by drawing out my potential ideas on a sheet of paper. I take into account the season of the year, the fruits of that season, the effect that different flavor fusions will leave on an individual's palate as well as different textures. I always strive to represent something unique within my desserts.

Paying homage to our nickname of ‘The Peach State’ you recently made a peach dessert at The Creek Club Members raved about. What was your thought process behind this creation?

With the "Peach State'' I wanted to create something that would remind the Members of our beautiful state and what makes Georgia stand out from other states in the country. I also wanted to highlight the traditional aspect of Georgia, which is why I recreated the amazing peach which our state is known for. I individually molded each peach, and woke up early that morning to cut leaves from a peach tree.

What are a few things Reynolds Members can look forward to from you?

The experiences that go behind every dessert I make are special to me. It is an experience that I hope to carry out to every Member of Reynolds within all of our restaurants, events, and wine dinners! We have a lot of exciting events and tasty treats ahead of us, and I can't wait to meet more Members throughout this wonderful community.

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