julie mitchellChef de Cuisine

Chef Julie Mitchell attended culinary school at the Art Institute of California, Inland Empire. Her love for cooking began while she worked for a small farm in Mecca, CA that grows mangoes and hydroponic tomatoes.

“After selling our produce at the farmers markets we would come home with a box of mixed fruits, vegetables and breads and I would cook dinner for my family. It was an amazing experience getting to know the local farmers and different growing techniques and varieties of produce.”

Julie relocated to Miami from San Diego where she was Chef de Partie at the W Hotel. She has worked in culinary hotspots like Southern California, Chicago, and now Miami.

Julie is incredibly enthusiastic to take on the role of Chef de Cuisine for Essensia Restaurant & Lounge at The Palms Hotel & Spa. She is very excited to oversee the hotel’s Organic Chef’s Garden, where Essensia grows part of its produce used in the restaurant. Staying true to her farmer values, Mitchell believes it is important to know where your produce comes from as well as how it is grown. The better the quality of ingredient, the better the final product will be and we couldn’t agree more.

Together with Chef Rogers III and Pastry Chef Samantha Frei, Mitchell fully embraces Essensia’s farm-to-table philosophy, offering up a seasonal selection of global, wholesome cuisine made primarily with locally sourced ingredients.

samantha freiPastry Chef

Samantha Frei has been the Pastry Chef at The Palms since January 2014. She has worked in the resort’s pastry department since 2008, serving as assistant pastry chef to a number of very skilled and talented Executive Pastry Chefs. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University, North Miami, she worked at three other Florida properties before joining The Palms, where she now directs the pastry creations for Essensia Restaurant, other outlets as well as the hotel’s large catering operation.

Sam is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she grew up in a very food-centered family. She remembers cooking and baking with her mom, dad, and grandmother, and putting together elaborate feasts for holidays and family gatherings. Although she always took an interest in cooking, her passion always led her back to baking and pastry. She thinks of pastry as edible art, that combines science and art in one.

Sam is incredibly excited to take on the roll of Pastry Chef at The Palms and for Essensia Restaurant. She appreciates the availability of local, tropical fruit, and is inspired by the fresh, unique offerings of South Florida farms, making her a perfect fit for executing the Essensia concept of farm-to-table. Although Sam considers herself an “outside the box” kind of pastry chef, her very favorite dessert is a really good piece of traditional cherry pie. Essensia diners can look forward to some wedges of delicious, seasonally inspired pies coming out of Sam’s kitchen in the near future.

Sam is most excited about crafting more offerings throughout the hotel and restaurant that are tailored to guests with food sensitivities. As she, herself is lactose intolerant, she understands the challenges that our guests face when searching for gluten free, lactose free, or sugar free desserts and pastries. As The Palms strives to be more and more progressive in our offerings to guests with special dietary needs, Sam will take that mission another step in the pastry department. She is working on a few recipes that utilize almond milk in lieu of dairy, and alternative flours like coconut and rice flour to substitute for gluten.

Together with Chef Rogers III, Pastry Chef Samantha Frei will continue to provide an exceptional farm-to-table experience for Essensia’s guests with consistent focus on freshness and quality, while constantly striving to improve on our mission to provide healthy and delicious alternatives for guests with special dietary needs.