Though only 26, Merhej has quickly garnered the attention of the local dining community with her nuanced style and prowess with pastry, refined during her five-year tenure at mar'sel. Merhej joined the award-winning property as the restaurant's Sous Chef in 2009 under mentor Chef Michael Fiorelli, who, at the time, helmed the kitchen. After Fiorelli was promoted to Executive Sous Chef overseeing the property's 11 food & beverage outlets in 2013, she assumed the role of Chef de Cuisine at the age of 24, successfully launching a new brunch program, and further finessing the menu with fresh expressions of the California-inspired seasonally-driven cuisine. Prior to her time at mar'sel, Merhej worked alongside Fiorelli at Chef Kerry Simon's celebrated Simon LA, honing and sharpening the skills she acquired during her matriculation at the Kitchen Academy in Los Angeles (now Le Cordon Bleu).
"I'm thrilled that Rebecca will be completing our team at Love & Salt," Says Fiorelli. "We've been working together since the early days of her culinary career and watching her grow into the chef she is today has been incredibly inspiring. We are constantly pushing and challenging each other to be better every day, and I'm excited to continue that dynamic at Love & Salt."
"Fiorelli and Merhej's combined passion and energy is a true articulation of the philosophy behind Love & Salt," Adds Co-owner Guy Gabriele. "Sylvie and I couldn't be happier that we are all on this journey together as we begin this next chapter."
Love & Salt will begin construction this month with plans to open during the summer in the former Café Pierre space at 317 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA, 90266.