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40 UNDER 40
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Marissa Gerlach

Chef de Cuisine, Raya Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

By Elaine Murphy & Sarah VaughnPublished: May 01, 2012

Marissa Gerlach has worked with food ever since she got her first job at the Scoop Deck, an ice cream store in Dana Point. Now, as the head chef at RAYA at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Gerlach whips up Pan-Latin cuisine using sustainable seafood and seasonal ingredients. After earning her culinary arts certification from Orange Coast College, the Dana Hills High School graduate built a strong reputation working at some of the best restaurants and hotels in California, and aspires to one day become one of the few female executive chefs at the Ritz-Carlton. Gerlach has served several famous chefs and even received praise from British chef Gordon Ramsay.
   
Gerlach says her most significant accomplishment is being able to be successful at doing something she loves: “Being a chef isn’t just about the love of cooking. There is a lot more that goes with it, and it takes a certain kind of person to adapt.”
   
This ambitious and accomplished young professional takes pride in her work while more than holding her own in the fast-paced restaurant world. In her previous position as a lead pastry cook, the head chefs bet that she wouldn’t last a week without crying; by the end of her two-year tenure in that kitchen, she hadn’t shed a tear.
   
When she’s not in the kitchen, Gerlach prefers to be outdoors participating in active sports such as mountain biking, caving and camping. ritzcarlton.com/laguna

Best business advice: “Never stop learning.”



OC METRO's 2012 40 UNDER 40
Lily Knowles    Ashleigh Aitken    Jeremy Yamaguchi
Kevin Willson    Megan Lavender    Jason Lucash
Tan Rezaei & Navid Firoozi    Julie Schoenbachler
Chris Winn    Shawna Smith Gotreau    Matt Petteruto
Kelly Lewis    Justin Choi    Marissa Gerlach    Josh McCarter
Brian Davis    Patrick Strader    Quy "Q" Nguyen
Carla Vargas    Patrick Rue    Jennifer Tucker Klein
Brandon Burton    Lauren O’Gorman    Inna Kassatkina
Tom Reimers    Jackie Ferlita    Eric Bender
Dale Partridge & Aaron Chavez  ≈  Danny Sonenshine
Russell Bendel    Sandra Jones    Balaji Krishna
Saimah Chaudhry    Dan Nasitka    Laura Hess
Kohl Crecelius    Larry Labrado Jr.    Melissa Beck
Jeremy Linehan    Stephen Silver

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