A 2002 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Executive Chef Harley Peet’s passion for cooking started long before his years in Hyde Park. Peet was raised on the shores of Lake Michigan and is a long-time competitive sailor. Upon graduation from CIA, Peet’s love of the water took him to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he fished and raced sailboats while rising to the rank of chef de cuisine at the Tilghman Island Inn. Peet went on to refine his technique and mastery of kitchen management over the course of many years under acclaimed chef Mark Salter at The Inn at Perry Cabin, building lasting relationships with watermen who still provide him with their finest catch. In 2014, Peet was hired to head up the culinary program for newly formed Bluepoint Hospitality, where he now oversees operations and menu development for the group’s growing restaurant portfolio in Easton. Locale is a constant source of inspiration for Peet, who finds great satisfaction in serving fish caught in the Chesapeake just hours before service, or hand-selecting seasonal produce from local farmers.
Ben Chekroun is a hospitality trade veteran with outstanding management skills and exceptionally high standards of service. While studying mechanical engineering in Paris, Chekroun waited tables to earn extra money and instantly fell in love with the industry. In 1993, he was invited to join the team of the world-renowned restaurant, Le Bernardin, where he quickly excelled and spent 27 years as a member of their executive team. During his time as dining room manager, Le Bernardin repeatedly received accolades of the highest honor, including: a three-star Michelin rating since 2005; a James Beard Award for outstanding service in 1999; three separate four-star reviews from the New York Times; and a consistent ranking in the top 20 best restaurants in the world by The World’s 50 Best. Chekroun joined Bluepoint Hospitality as general manager in summer of 2020, where he oversees all aspects of service at the group’s collection of culinary venues. Late last year Chekroun was honored by the French Consulate as a Chevalier de l’ordre du mérite in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the traditions of French culture and gastronomy in America. Chekroun has mastered the art of combining technical service with humility and heart, with the ultimate goal of creating experiences that guests will carry with them long after they walk out the door.
Natalie Tapken brings her experience as one of New York City’s top sommeliers to Easton. She has helped shape innovative and successful wine programs at top restaurants since the start of her wine career in the early 2000s with Mercer Hospitality Group. In 2016, Tapken pivoted from the restaurant floor to the world of importing fine wines, representing renowned producers from around the globe. As the Chef Sommelier and Wine & Beverage Director of Bluepoint Hospitality, Tapken leads a wine program that was the 2021 recipient of three separate, prestigious Wine Spectator Awards at Bas Rouge, The Wardroom, and The Stewart. Tapken’s work as a distributor and importer has led to Bluepoint securing allocations from the most prestigious producers around the world. Every bottle is hand-selected for the list. Tapken’s focus is on elevating her team’s knowledge of fine wines - a skill that she knows will serve them well in their restaurant careers and beyond.