We are gaucho
Meet the Team
El Gaucho • AQUA By El Gaucho • The Inn At El Gaucho
El Gaucho Hospitality is a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment. Individuals who are self-starters, committed to high standards, and delivering unparalleled service thrive on our team. Our company was built on seven key pillars that drive our company forward, which include: Individual Responsibility, Professionalism, Stewardship, Action-Oriented, Free Enterprise, Building a Strong Community, and Heritage of Hospitality. Our purpose is simple: We revel in celebrating lives and creating a night to remember for our guests. If you have a can-do attitude and heart for hospitality, we’d love to hear from you!
President / COO
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Since joining his father and El Gaucho founder, Paul Mackay in 2003, the two worked together to build a special place for people to celebrate their lives. Chad develops strategic direction to promote continual growth and expansion. His primary responsibilities include day-to-day business operations, focusing on developing the company’s people and structure and continuing to foster the El Gaucho legacy of service to our guests and community. As a dedicated member of the Seattle community, Chad is active in the Washington State Restaurant Association and is currently the Finance Chair for Visit Seattle, after serving as Board Chair.
Previously, he served on the Washington State Tourism Advisory Committee, the Washington State Tourism Commission and the Seattle Sports Commission. Active in many philanthropic organizations, Chad and his wife Jennifer co-chaired Seattle Aquarium’s 2012 Splash! Fundraising event, as well as the Celebrity Waiter’s luncheon, benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Association. Chad holds a BA in Business Administration from Seattle University and is a private pilot who flies a Piper Cherokee. His wife, Jennifer, is a tax attorney and mother of their two sons, Eliot and Owen.
Corporate Executive Chef
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Imbued with a passion for cooking at an early age, Chef and Partner Ken Sharp began his career at Seattle’s Olympic Hotel while still in high school. Encouraged by the chef at the Olympic, Sharp attended the Washington State Chef’s Apprentice Program at Seattle Central Community College, earning a culinary arts degree. Sharp held a number of different posts including managing the food service division at Steven’s Pass, the broiler at Mirabeau Restaurant and butchering for the Red Lion Inns. Sharp spent five years as the chef at the Seafirst Bank Executive Dining Room redesigning and constantly upgrading its cuisine.
In 1984, Sharp had the opportunity to join legendary Executive Chef Earl Owens at the newly opened Metropolitan Grill. He went to work with general manager Paul Mackay to make the “Met” a legendary steakhouse. Collecting accolades for the “Met,” Sharp collaborated with the parent company, Consolidated Restaurants, on projects such as Union Square Grill and Pescatore until 1996. In 1996, Mackay recruited Sharp to join him for his newest venture, a revamped Gaucho in Belltown. His culinary expertise in both cooking and the preparation of specialty beef made him a natural choice to head the kitchen at El Gaucho.
As Corporate Executive Chef, Sharp brings his ability and expertise to each of the El Gaucho Restaurants. In addition to recreating his legendary “best steak in town” at each El Gaucho, Sharp oversees all of the sourcing for Mackay’s seafood restaurant, AQUA by El Gaucho.
Director of Operations
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A Missouri native and University of Washington graduate, Cooper has worked in Seattle’s restaurant industry for over 20 years at some of the city’s most famous restaurants. Cooper was recruited in 2007 by owner Paul Mackay to manage El Gaucho Seattle because of his natural sense of hospitality, and was personally mentored by Paul to learn El Gaucho’s history and philosophy regarding high standards of guest service.
Cooper loves being dad to his daughter, Sophia Grace, and husband to his wife Rebecca . In his spare time, he enjoys camping, golfing, Husky Football, driving his 1974 VW “Thing” (in the summer) and spending time exploring the city. In his home town he’s known and remembered for singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” in his 5th grade play, which people still talk about today! Some of his most treasured items include his grandfather’s 1944 World Series Ring.
Marketing and Communications Director
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Raised on a third generation wheat and cattle family farm in Eastern Washington, Tamara loves combining her agricultural background with her unique career in special events production, non-profit fundraising, and recruiting in the consumer goods industry. Tamara joined El Gaucho Hospitality in 2012 and is responsible for the overall brand marketing strategy and implementation, communications, and the company’s very active charitable giving program. Tamara ensures the stories behind the El Gaucho Hospitality people and products are told, through writing for the company blog “The Gaucho Gridiron,” through email and newsletter marketing, and social media.
With a degree from Washington State University in Communications, Tamara now loves living in “the big city.” In her spare time, you might find her enjoying all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer, through running, hiking, yoga, attending a show or museum, or checking out a new restaurant or winery with friends and family. She also has completed her Level One Certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Her greatest joy is being mom to her son, Gunnar.
AQUA by El Gaucho
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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle’s poignant observation is Siv’s favorite quote. Known for her drive, as well as being a fair and honest person, anyone who knows Siv would not be surprised that this is how she approaches work and life every day.
Siv was a part of the AQUA opening team in 2000, and worked as a Private Dining Director for five years before becoming General Manager. Although born in New Haven, CT, she grew up in West Seattle, and now lives on Queen Anne, close to her entire family. In 2014, she was named a Tourism Ambassador by Visit Seattle, the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. Siv is also generous with her time and is involved in many local non-profits, most notably Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and USO.
El Gaucho Bellevue
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Hailing from Minneapolis, Tony has been in the hospitality industry since 1988. Starting his career as a bellman at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, he quickly discovered a love for the business. A year later, Tony moved back to Minneapolis and started a seven-year stint with the Whitney Hotel, a premier boutique hotel in the city, while completing his degree at the University of Minnesota.
In the fall of 1995, Tony packed up his golf clubs and trekked to Seattle, and also made the switch from hotels to restaurants. Starting as the maître d’ at West Seattle’s iconic Salty’s on Alki, he stayed for nine years and worked his way up to General Manager. After a few years at Ivar’s Salmon House, the opportunity arose to work with friend and colleague Cooper Mills at El Gaucho Seattle. With a strong belief in the concept, atmosphere, character, and integrity that Paul Mackay has created with El Gaucho, Tony has enjoyed his time in fine dining. After all these years he still has the passion to please that he did as a new bellman at the Phoenician resort many years ago.
El Gaucho Portland
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More info coming soon.
El Gaucho Seattle
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James Parsons has been part of the El Gaucho family since 2003. He realized that hospitality was his calling when he had an epiphany during a staff training while working at Tulio in Seattle. He realized “Hey, I like this. I’m having fun, not sitting behind a desk, and I’m sharing passions with other people.” He realized he could work hard, continue to learn, and make a career of it, and he hasn’t looked back.
James was able to secure a newly created spot just for him at El Gaucho in 2003 as a busser for private events. He recalls that there was no openings on the staff, because everyone loved their jobs, but he gradually took server positions, bartending shifts, and eventually became a full time captain in 2006. In 2009, James and his wife Amanda moved to Chicago and Minneapolis and then back to Seattle in 2012 where he was rehired to run the wine program at El Gaucho Seattle. James’ passion for wine began after one sip of a 1999 Flaccinello. That was a turning point which ignited his extensive studies through the Court of Master Sommeliers and the International Sommelier Guild.
James was promoted to General Manager at El Gaucho Seattle in 2016 and says his favorite part of working at El Gaucho is the people – both the guests and teammates. “Everyone here is the best at what they do,” he exclaims. “We work in one of the best restaurants, and we have the best guests. I love this place and the people who work here, and I believe in what we do, and that is where the rubber meets the road.”
El Gaucho Tacoma
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As the General Manager at El Gaucho Tacoma, Stephanie is one of the few women to take the reins of a prominent American steakhouse. Born and raised in Tacoma, she started working as a restaurant hostess at the age of 16 and became hooked on hospitality. Keyt joined the El Gaucho team in 2008 and has worked at three of the five El Gaucho locations as a bartender, server, bookkeeper, trainer, captain, events director, and now as GM at El Gaucho at Tacoma. In addition to being known for her quick-wit and sarcasm, Stephanie is also organized, hard-working, and great at multi-tasking. With these traits and small stature, her nickname has become “Iron Cupcake.”
Stephanie’s favorite part of working at El Gaucho is that “I can 100% stand behind and truly believe in the level of service, and quality of product we provide, which allows me a level of integrity when working with guests.”
El Gaucho truly is family to Stephanie. She and her husband Dasha Mulein, a Captain at El Gaucho Seattle, met while working for the company. They now have a 20-month-old son, Madox in addition to Dasha’s son Taven, 10, a cat named Mau Mau, a bearded dragon named Darwin, and a fish named Flash.
The Inn at El Gaucho
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Known as Bayley to friends, David was born in Phoenixville, PA and moved to Seattle when he was 8 years old. After graduating from Bellevue HS in ’05, he worked at Hotel 1000 in 2006, and decided that hospitality was his calling. He planned to study at Tulane, but Hurricane Katrina changed that, so he landed at UNLV because of their top-notch hospitality program. After stints at the Mondrian, Hard Rock Café Casino & Resort, and the Cosmopolitan Hotel, he left Las Vegas and traveled around the U.S., Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Brazil. He loved the skiing lifestyle, and landed in Tahoe to work for the Marriot Timber Lodge at the base of Heavenly. There he met his girlfriend Michelle, and the two recently moved back to Seattle to set down roots.
He is most excited about working at the Inn because “the company is a part of Seattle’s history. Gaucho puts a smile on people’s face.” He says, “This is a fully rounded hospitality company that I am excited to be a part of.”
Executive Chef, AQUA by El Gaucho
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AQUA by El Gaucho’s Executive Chef Wesley Hood was born and raised in Spokane, Washington before he moved to the greater Seattle area in 2001 to pursue his interests in culinary arts. Although he had no formal training, his natural talent and fiery ambition led him to hold positions at many well-known Seattle area restaurants such as Palisade, Elliott’s Oyster House and Union Square Grill.
In 2008, Wesley began his career with El Gaucho Hospitality at AQUA by El Gaucho (formerly Waterfront Seafood Grill) then onto El Gaucho Bellevue in early 2012 to take the helm as Sous Chef. Most recently, Wesley has returned to AQUA as Executive Chef.
Wes enjoys cooking a variety of dishes, his favorite of which is braised lamb. To him, the aromas swirling in the kitchen are one of the greatest parts about being a chef.
In his spare time, Wesley enjoys relaxing with his wife and two sons at their home in Lynnwood.
Executive Chef, El Gaucho Bellevue
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Tristan started his culinary career at the age of 12 in Vero Beach, Florida, by prepping and doing dishes in a friend’s bakery. That led to other gigs around town, and he started traveling around the country, landing in Seattle. He joined the El Gaucho team in June 2006 at Troiani, and after its closing, was promoted to Sous Chef at AQUA by El Gaucho. He was promoted to Executive Chef at El Gaucho Bellevue in November 2016.
Tristan jokes that he didn’t choose to become a chef – it chose him. He enjoys the creativity that cooking allows. His proudest accomplishments include being a dad to four daughters, including twins. In his free time, he enjoys snowboarding, camping, hiking, and about anything outdoors.
Executive Chef, El Gaucho Portland
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El Gaucho Event’s Executive Chef Steve Cain fell in love with his craft at an early age while watching relatives prepare lavish holiday feasts at their family beach house in Olympia, WA. Growing up with a mother who was a chef further inspired him to make cooking not only his passion, but his trade. With no formal training but 30 years of experience, Chef Cain moved to Seattle to work at Henry’s Off Broadway under Chef Bruce Bonholzer, who attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. This experience would be a turning point in his career and taught him that with great food comes lasting memories.
Cain continued to work in a select group of Pacific Northwest restaurants, honing and burnishing his culinary skills. For 8 years he worked as Executive Chef at Waterfront Seafood Grill (now AQUA by El Gaucho) and when the Mackays opened their first eastside venture in November 2008, El Gaucho Bellevue, Steve was given the position of Chef de Cuisine. After nearly 4 years of helping create the menu on the eastside, Cain returned to his roots within the company as Executive Chef of AQUA by El Gaucho. As the offsite program, El Gaucho Events, began to grow, Cain stepped in to the roll of El Gaucho Events Executive Chef in 2013. In April of 2014, Cain became Executive Chef at El Gaucho Portland.
Executive Chef, El Gaucho Seattle
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Jonathan Garcia joined the company seven years ago through the Renton Technical College Apprenticeship program, and worked his way up to El Gaucho Events Executive Chef. He now brings his talent, charm and smile as El Gaucho Seattle’s Executive Chef, and enjoys the privilege of cooking for people as they celebrate their lives. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico Jonathan grew up in Bellevue and found his love for cooking while his father worked in a restaurant. Studying culinary arts at Renton Technical College, El Gaucho selected Jonathan through the Washington State Culinary Apprenticeship Program, because of his drive and desire to further his skills. The program demands a huge commitment from both the chef and the apprentice. It typically takes three years to complete, requiring 6,000 hands-on hours and mastery of ten stations around the kitchen.
Jonathan and his wife have two dogs, two hedgehogs, one bunny, and a canary. He likes to spend time cooking for his wife and family, playing soccer and football, and living life to the fullest.
Executive Chef, El Gaucho Tacoma
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Jesus joined El Gaucho family in 2001, and was recently promoted to Executive Chef at El Gaucho Tacoma. Having a huge passion for food, and proven that he is a quick learner, Jesus has worked his way up the ranks from dishwasher to Sous Chef through notable area restaurants, including Black Angus, Pacific Grill, and Daniel’s Broiler. When the offer to become El Gaucho Tacoma’s Executive Chef came, Jesus was reluctant, but Corporate Executive Chef Ken Sharp confidently assured Jesus he could do it; and he’s very grateful for the opportunity.
Jesus was born in Mexico, but has lived most of his life in California and Washington. He loves spending time with his beautiful family and Chihuahua, and in his spare time enjoys green enchiladas, reading cooking books, and grilling at home.