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Festival Dates: Feb 20-23, 2014

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David Sears


David Sears has recently joined Samba Brands Management’s talented culinary team as executive chef of the company’s newest SUSHISAMBA location, SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables. Sears’ long-standing industry experience comes from positions held in a string of top-rated hotels in addition to several entrepreneurial endeavors, both in which Sears worked to develop his palate and culinary skills.

Sears graduated from Miami’s Johnson & Wales University. Shortly afterwards, he went on to become a personal chef for Patricia K. Pepper, former mayor of West Palm Beach. While working for Pepper, Sears was not only responsible for daily healthy meal preparation, but also organized business functions and large-scale dinner parties for dignitaries and socialites. Next, Sears continued to hone his culinary skills at Davinity by David, the chef’s self-owned catering company, where he single-handedly prepared white glove service and buffet-style catering for an array of clients and events including business functions, engagement parties, showers and weddings.

Seeking a well-rounded hospitality experience, Sears joined the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Corporation as sous chef and garde manager at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami. At the Ritz, Sears supervised all kitchen affairs and perfected his skills in cold cuisine preparation. After three years at the renowned resort, he was once again ready for change and headed north to Washington D.C., where he spent two years working at the top-rated Mandarin Oriental hotel. He began as a garde manger chef and eventually graduated to become the chef de cuisine of the hotel’s Café MoZu. At the Mandarin Oriental, Sears established the café as one of the “Top 50 Restaurants in Washington, D.C.” and was also responsible for menu design, supervising a staff of 21 culinarians, and collaborating with James Beard Award winner Eric Ziebold for the hotel’s PR events and wine tasting dinners.

Hungry for home, Sears returned to Florida, where he was an integral partner in the opening of The Grande Hotel, of Ginn Reunion Resorts in Orlando. He served as the chef de cuisine at the hotel’s dining venues including The Sushi Lounge, The Waterpark, Room Service and Forte – the resort’s signature restaurant. During his tenure, Ginn Reunion was recognized at the “#1 Golf Resort in the United States” by the International Association of Golf Trade Operators. The resort also earned nods from Conde Nast and Destination Living magazines.

After a brief stint in California, Sears returned to Orlando for his first executive chef position at Bull & Bear Restaurant in the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel, where he was responsible for overseeing food and beverage operations for the $4.8 million revenue resort. From 2010 – 2012, the resort won a series of acclaimed Silver Spoon awards including “Best Fine Dining,” “Best Steakhouse in America,” “Best Service,” and “Best Desserts.” The resort also earned two consecutive AAA Four Diamond Awards, “Best Fine Dining” by Orlando Dining Guide and “Best Golf Course Restaurant” by My City Eats.

Over the next year, Sears took a break from corporate hospitality and worked as a private consultant chef, where he assisted in the opening and menu conceptualization for private luxury resorts and nightclubs, training resort staff, executing extensive tasting menus for private events and teaching French, Asian and modern American culinary techniques. In 2013, Sears returned to where his career began, and took a position as chef de cuisine for Temple Orange at the Ritz-Carlton West Palm Beach, where he was a key player in the restaurant’s re-launch and re-conceptualization.

Now, as Executive Chef of SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables, Chef Sears is thrilled to showcase his culinary skills and hone his knowledge of Brazilian and Peruvian cooking, adding to his already extensive repertoire.

SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables is located in the Westin Colonnade Hotel at 180 Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables, Florida. For additional information please visit



SUSHISAMBA restaurants are operated by Samba Brands Management, which was founded by Shimon Bokovza, Matthew Johnson and Danielle Billera. In addition to the new Coral Gables location, SUSHISAMBA has sites in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami and London as well as SUGARCANE raw bar grill in Miami and Duck & Waffle in London. With over 13 years of experience, the company continues to expand their cutting-edge concepts. Their projects are unpredictable, their venues are impressive, and their visions set trends in the industry for years. For more information visit

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