John Washko, a 32-year luxury hospitality leader, has been named food and beverage director for Southern California’s traveler destination Fashion Island Hotel. In addition, the hotel has named Aaron Anderson, 12-year culinary industry professional, as general manager of Fashion Island Hotel’s signature restaurant Oak Grill and vibrant after-work and night-time venue Aqua Lounge.
“We look forward to having these two hospitality veterans bring Fashion Island Hotel’s already acclaimed food and beverage venues, services and programs to new levels of hospitality excellence. Together they bring years of outstanding leadership, management acumen and hands-on luxury brand experience,” said the property’s General Manager Gerard Widder. “John’s distinguished and highly respected accomplishments have earned recognition from the most prestigious culinary organizations in the industry. And Aaron is a food and beverage chef specialist who has delivered exceptional experiences to thousands of dining guests throughout the years of his career.”
As food and beverage director, Washko oversees all food and beverage operations for Fashion Island Hotel, including Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, in-room and poolside dining, the hotel’s grab and go Market Place, banquets, weddings and Coastal Catering, the hotel’s catering division for offsite events.
In his new position as Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge general manager, Anderson works closely with Washko and Oak Grill’s Executive Chef Brittany Valles, as well as the Aqua Lounge team to elevate the food and beverage offerings.
Most recently, Washko served as executive director, food and beverage for Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and area director, food and beverage, luxury division, Americas of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, International. Prior to that position, he was vice president of hotel operations for six years for Auberge Resorts collection, maintaining award-winning brand standards within North America, the Caribbean and Mexico. He also held various executive level management, corporate assistance and brand concept development jobs focusing on food and beverage for the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in the U.S. and at numerous properties throughout the world.
Washko has served as a trustee for the James Beard Foundation, where he was chairman of the awards committee among other contributions, and received the James Beard Foundation “Angel Award” in 2007 and another prestigious James Beard Award in 2018. He is a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary society and assisted in facilitating the Conclave of the Masters at Cornell University.
Prior to his appointment at Fashion Island Hotel, Anderson was beverage director for Los Angeles-based Citrus Hospitality Management where he was responsible for all aspects of the group’s beverage programs and for managing a staff of 180 people working at Perch, Bar 13, Mrs. Fish and Hill Street Pizza. Previously, Anderson was director of operations with the Ditmus Restaurant Group in Los Angeles and served as executive chef/partner at South County Restaurant Group’s Harlow’s and Kingston Catering in San Juan Capistrano, California. Anderson has held chef positions at now-closed FigOly Restaurant in Los Angeles Luxe City Center Hotel, at McCormick and Schmick’s for various Orange County California locations, and he cheffed at Ivan Kane’s Café Was in Los Angeles. He graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu Certified Program at Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, with an associate’s degree of applied science.
Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge are located adjacent to Fashion Island shopping destination, inside Fashion Island Hotel Newport Beach and are easily accessible through a pedestrian entrance along Newport Center Drive, along with complimentary valet available at the hotel entrance. Reservations for Oak Grill can be made by calling 949-760-4920 or visiting www.oakgrillnb.com and for Aqua Lounge by calling 949-760-4342 or visiting www.aqualoungenb.com.
About Fashion Island Hotel
Located adjacent to Fashion Island, an open-air lifestyle center in Newport Beach, Fashion Island Hotel is a luxury coastal hotel offering breathtaking ocean, harbor and cityscape views. Fashion Island Hotel features 295 guestrooms and suites, more than 23,000 square feet of event space, the largest ballroom in Newport Beach, a spa, fitness center and resort-style pool. Fashion Island Hotel is one of three hotels in the world-class Coastal Collection portfolio of Irvine Company Resort Properties® including The Resort at Pelican Hill and Hotel Irvine. With nearby pristine beaches, world-class golf, water sports and other outdoor activities, Fashion Island Hotel is the social center of Newport Beach, one of California’s most desirable beach cities located about 45 minutes south of Los Angeles. For more information, please visit www.FashionIslandHotel.com.
About the Irvine Company
The Irvine Company® is an internationally renowned real estate development company known for its award-winning master-planned communities, its vast portfolio of high-quality investment properties and its leadership in conservation and natural resource management. The growing real estate portfolio encompasses office, apartment, retail and resort holdings located throughout California’s premier markets, including assets in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles Counties, and holdings in Northern California. As a steward of some of America’s most beautiful and scientifically important open space and parklands, the company has donated more than half of the historic 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch® in Orange County — 50,000 acres — to permanently preserve these lands. The U.S. Department of Interior and the State of California have designated these parklands as “Natural Landmarks,” one of the most prestigious land preservation designations. The privately held, diversified company traces its roots to the 1860s with the formation of The Irvine Ranch® from Mexican and Spanish land grants.