As the Executive Chef of the Omni Nashville Hotel, Chef David Harker oversees all culinary operations for the hotel. This includes creative and managerial direction for banquet and pastry operations, in-room dining, and the hotel’s signature dining venues: Kitchen Notes, Barlines, Bongo Java, and the rooftop pool. Harker’s mission is to create an authentic expression of Nashville’s vibrant culture through culinary interpretations.
With over 26 years of culinary and hospitality experience, David Harker was the Executive Chef at the 4 star, 4 diamond Omni Interlocken Resort in Denver, Colorado. There he was responsible for all culinary and back-of-house operations for the resort including The Meritage Restaurant, The Tap Room, all banquets and catering operations. Prior to his tenure with Omni Hotels and Resorts, Chef Harker was the Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage for Miller Global and their transition team for Nickelodeon Family Suites Resort in Orlando, Florida. There he worked directly under Anthony Melchiorri, TV personality and host of "Hotel Impossible." Chef Harker oversaw, all new concept development, daily food and beverage operations of the resort, staff hiring and training and the health and wellness program. Prior to this, he was a task force Chef for Starwood Hotels and Resorts (opening team and Executive Sous Chef, The Westin in Westminster, Colorado, Four Points by Sheraton in Denver, The Westin in Charlotte, North Carolina, task force Chef at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, The W at Chicago City Center, Executive Chef at The Westin in Dallas Park Central) Other notable experiences incude: Chef and Co-Owner of Babaloo Restaurant in Boulder, Colorado; Executive Chef at Marc’s Steak and Oyster Bar and Valentines Italian Restaurant, two of the most successful restaurants in North Denver.
Harker holds a culinary degree from the Western Culinary Institute and Metropolitan State College of Denver and has been a contributing member of the American Culinary Federation. Chef Harker has been a two-time invite to Omni Hotel's Master Chefs series -- CIA Hyde Park New York and CIA San Antonio. Professional awards include: first place, People’s Choice Award 2011 and Most Creative Award 2013 in The Taste of Elegance Beer Festival in Colorado; first place, People’s Choice Award “Spirit of the West” at the 2003 Taste of Elegance Pork Competition in Colorado; and 2002 Silver Medal Winner and 2000 Bronze Medal Winner at the Governor’s Symposium.
Specialties include concept creations, kitchen consulting and design, team building, task force assistance, menu design and development and ice carving.
Lauren Connell joined the Kitchen Notes team as General Manager in October of 2014, nearly a year after the restaurant’s opening. After graduating from Cornell University with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations, Lauren ignited her career by working for several notable hospitality organizations in Midtown Manhattan.
Her experiences included working as Sales Manager, with a focus on corporate sales and events, at The St. Regis New York; as part of the re-opening management team at the famous Plaza Hotel, where she played a key role in menu development, restaurant design and staff training; and as the Assistant Outlet Manager at The Warwick Hotel, where she oversaw operations for its restaurant, Murals on 54, bar, Randolph’s, and the hotel’s room service division.
Born and raised on Long Island, New York, Lauren made her journey south to join her fiancé, now husband, Army Staff Sergeant Patrick Connell, who was stationed at Fort Campbell, on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Lauren met and married Patrick in Tennessee, a place she has called home for the past two years, and a place that now holds a very special place in her heart.
Lauren’s passion for her career is apparent with each and every guest and associate interaction. “I will never leave the hospitality industry,” says Lauren. “It has opened my world to diverse people and places, as well as exciting ventures in the realm of food and beverage. I take great pride in Kitchen Notes, not only for the incredible dishes we serve, but for the experience guests have when they visit. It’s a joy to welcome people into our kitchen again and again.”
ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER
Mandi Rogers joined the Kitchen Notes team in 2014, less than a year after opening, where she serves as Assistant Manager, maintaining oversight of all daily operations at the restaurant, including staff training, private event execution and reservation management.
Prior to joining the Omni Nashville team, Mandi worked at Gaylord Opryland Resort for the popular Italian fine-dining establishment, Ravello. During her time there, she worked her way up from server to lead trainer for their growing wait staff.
A former student at Bethel College in West Tennessee, Mandi truly enjoys the ever-changing nature of the food and beverage industry. She loves learning about the latest industry trends and bringing her knowledge and insight into the restaurant each day. As a Nashville native, Mandi is passionate about Kitchen Notes’ farm-to-fork philosophy, which supports local farmers and artisans in the local region. Mandi loves that Kitchen Notes embraces the Music City culture. “Food is a universal love language—if you feed someone, they are going to be happy!” says Mandi.
Jessica Roughton joined the Kitchen Notes team in December 2015 as Assistant Manager, where she currently oversees daily operations, staff wine trainings and associate satisfaction projects. Prior to joining the Omni Nashville team, Jessica spent three years at Gaylord Opryland Resort, where she worked her way up from hostess to supervisor at Old Hickory Steakhouse, a million dollar fine dining establishment.
Jessica has spent several years in the food and beverage industry, holding a multitude of roles, from cook to bartender, cashier to manager –she truly knows the business inside out. A graduate of Austin Peay State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management, Jessica loves spending time visiting and exploring other food and beverage establishments in Nashville to stay current on culinary trends in the local community. She is a connoisseur of wine and hopes to obtain her sommelier certification in the near future.
PRIVATE EVENTS COORDINATOR
Jillian Nielsen joined the Omni Hotels and Resorts organization in 2014, after graduating from Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management. She began her Omni career as a Food and Beverage Leader in Development at the Omni Fort Worth property in Fort Worth, TX. She moved to Music City in June 2015 and took on the role as Assistant Manager of Barlines, Omni Nashville’s very own honky-tonk. After a year of managing the daily operations of the bar and rooftop pool, Jillian decided to make the move to her current role, Private Events Coordinator. Now, Jillian manages private events for both Kitchen Notes and Barlines, hosting and coordinating everything from bridal luncheons to corporate dinners.
Jillian's knowledge of the food and beverage industry comes from years of serving in various roles—from host to food runner, bartender to manager. Her passion for the culinary industry carries into her personal hobbies—she grows her own herbs and vegetables and claims to have an 'unhealthy' love for craft beer and artisan cheeses!
Jillian grew up in a military household, so Nashville is home no. 11. Moving around during her childhood has manifested into a love of travel and exploration. She is a lover of the outdoors, and when she's not spending her time eating and drinking at a new restaurant, you can find her kayaking, hiking, camping or on the slopes. Jillian's perspective and worldly experience make her a perfect event planner—cultured, passionate, creative and ready to make any moment or event unforgettable.