Star by the Sea

How two chefs elevated Carmel cuisine to Michelin levels

Visitors to L’Auberge Carmel have long known there’s something special about the food and service at the Forbes 4-star property. From the dish of house-made caramels in the guest rooms to the proper pastry forks at the breakfast table, all the details are in place.

This summer the hotel’s restaurant, Aubergine, became the first restaurant in Monterey County to receive a Michelin star rating for the work of Executive Chef-Director Justin Cogley and Executive Pastry Chef Yulanda Santos and their teams.

When asked what is exciting him this season, Cogley relates, “The most important thing for me is keeping it simple: continuing to draw inspiration from the bounty of the sea, the incredible farms that surround Carmel, and finding the balance between continuing to evolve without chasing trends. It’s easy to get swept up with what everyone else is doing instead of forging our own path, but we’re fortunate to have an abundance of gifts from the sea and land to do so.”

L’Auberge Carmel, the Relais & Chateaux inn that is home to Aubergine restaurant, has 20 guest rooms, each with tufted or canopied beds. It is one of the few hotels in downtown Carmel offering guests valet parking. A renovation last year overseen by San Francisco designer Helga Horner features alpaca fabric chairs, antique leather writing desks, old globes, and hand-engraved maps that pay homage to the voyages and seafaring spirit of the property’s original owner, Allen Knight.