Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant
Announces New Executive Chef
Having served as Executive Sous Chef at Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant since June 2015, Didier Gerbi now moves up to the well-deserved position of Executive Chef.
“All of us at Harris Ranch are elated to have Didier stepping into the Executive Chef position,” says John Harris, owner. “We have full confidence in him to continue our high standards, and keep us moving ahead.”
Didier was born in Nice, France, where his extended family regularly gathered around a big table for dinner. “The culinary arts are a longtime family tradition,” he says. “Both my grandmas cooked for celebration events such as births, bar mitzvahs, weddings, and funerals.”
Drawn into the kitchen at an early age, Chef Didier learned to cook while working alongside the strong females in his family. Experience in the kitchen of his childhood began with hearing the women say, “Look, but don’t touch,” and concluded with his hand fully engaged in the family’s weekly planned menus.
Didier earned his bachelor’s degree while holding onto his passion for cooking. He later studied with the Chamber of Culinary Arts in France. Over a span of 21 years, he owned three restaurants in France. He also studied wine and winemaking. The final year before immigrating to the United States, Didier served as a chef instructor at Gastronomicom Vias, an international culinary school in the South of France. He is fluent in French, English and Spanish.
“I came to the United States to follow my heart,” says Chef Didier. “Ninety-nine percent of my decisions are based on love.” He settled in California, and grew to love the variety and quality of produce the Golden State has to offer. “I was educated in France where we only use product at its peak,” he says. “The Central Valley gives me the opportunity to cook with some of the freshest fruits and produce.”
Didier established himself in Oakdale, California as Executive Chef of Marcello’s Bistro. He later gained exposure to fine dining by serving as Executive Chef of The French Garden in Sebastopol. He spent five years in the role of Executive Chef at the prestigious Wine & Roses Hotel and Spa in Lodi, California. Prior to joining the culinary staff at Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant, Didier was Executive Sous Chef at the Tenaya Lodge Hotel and Spa, where he helped open three restaurants. He also worked briefly at the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club.
Chef Didier is up for the challenge of stepping into the role held by Reagan Roach for six years. “Chef Reagan’s leadership has been invaluable,” he says, proving his belief that transparency is the key to leading a team.
Always thinking of new menu ideas, Chef Didier expresses his creativity while holding true to the standards and expectations of Harris Ranch. “When you close your eyes and taste the food, you should be able to identify where you are,” he says. Didier’s first bite of our Cowboy Ribeye helped him define Harris Ranch. “The main ingredient is always the identity.”
Chef Didier enjoys the combination of rustic and fresh that defines the culture at Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant, and he ensures every menu item captures our culture. He changes our menu with the seasons and with industry demands, which include smaller portions, vegan options, and gluten-free and/or dairy-free pastries. Harris Farms provides the restaurant with multiple products from our land. Fresh garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, melons, watermelons, pistachios, and more find their way into Chef Didier’s culinary creations.
Teacher, educator, collaborator and mentor, Chef Didier believes a kitchen without passion is like a year without summer. “Food is about being happy,” he says. “Most of your happiness comes from the kitchen.”
Didier has a 12-year-old son here in California and other family, including an adult son in France. He enjoys reading and travelling, and has a love for cars—but, of course, he loves creating culinary delights even more.