Yves Samake, Executive Chef
A native of Le Mans, France, Chef Samake began his career in 1985 as commis decuisine in three Parisian restaurants, Le Vivarois, Le Petite Bretoniere and La TourD’Argent before coming to the U.S. to study at Johnson & Wales University. He graduated in 1992 after alternating periods of work, school, and military service.
A veteran of Ritz-Carlton hotels, Chef Samake has worked in Buckhead, Georgia; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Dubai, UAE; Half Moon Bay, California; and most recently, Atlanta, Georgia. Although his cooking techniques are primarily French, Chef Samake was heavily influenced by his upbringing in West Africa and has since also developed a great passion for Southern American foods.
In his current role, Chef Samake oversees all culinary operations for the 300-room hotel, including Quadrant, Westend Bistro, in-room dining, and banquet operations for over 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Chef Samake has experienced a unique professional trajectory; from cooking on supertankers in Saudi Arabia to writing a recipe book of spa cuisine, and most recently being named “Chef of the South” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. An avid kick boxer and 5th degree black belt, Chef Samake was named the amateur world champion by the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) in 1998, and he has won the Professional Karate Association (PKA) USA championship four times. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling the world and teaching his two children English, French and German.
Christopher Mendenhall, Lead Mixologist
Revered for his creative and culinarian approach to the art of cocktail making, Lead Mixologist Christopher Mendenhall brings his unique skillset to Quadrant through innovative, high concept cocktails that pull from the culinary world.
Mendenhall’s beverage experience spans over 12 years, and began in 2003 when he started bartending at Pappadeaux in the Dallas, TX area while attending University of Texas at Arlington. After graduating, Mendenhall took a job in sales and marketing for a moving company in Denver, CO, while also bartending a few nights a week at Pappadeaux in Denver.
Quickly realizing that the corporate world was not for him, Mendenhall decided that bartending was what he wanted to do full time. After taking up the advice of a close family friend, he moved to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to pursue his bartending career. His career in D.C. began as a part-time bartender at Westend Bistro and The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.’s Lobby Lounge. Soon thereafter, Mendenhall began bartending full time at Westend Bistro, which is where he really started honing his craft. With the aid of Westend Bistro’s esteemed culinary and beverage team, he began developing his culinarian approach to crafting cocktails and soon took helm over the esteemed restaurant’s cocktail menu.
Over five years later, the opportunity to be a part of Quadrant presented itself, and Mendenhall immediately knew that he wanted to be a part of it. As lead mixologist, Mendenhall not only introduces a cutting-edge cocktail menu, but also an unrivaled experience that encourages guests to learn and enjoy cocktails in a stylish and refined setting.
Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, Assistant Director of Food & Beverage
Rajeev Gopalakrishnan is Assistant Director of Food & Beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. and oversees the operations for Quadrant. Gopalakrishnan became a hotelier by accident. Among many competitive exams that Indian children take between the ages of 16 and 18, Hotel school under Ministry of Tourism was one that he took as a ritual. After joining the college, he was unsure of his fit in the industry until his first exposure to hotels during a six month training period during his second year of school. During his training at Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, one of the most prestigious hotel groups in the world, Gopalakrishnan discovered his passion for the industry and returned as a changed student to school for year three. After graduating from the Institute of Hotel Management, India, Gopalakrishnan further refined is expertise in the hotel industry at the Institute Hotelier Cesar Ritz in Switzerland, where he completed a Swiss Higher Diploma in Hotel Management. The experience at Cesar Ritz and practical training at Hotel Baur Au Lac, Zurich was the perfect symmetry of exposure to various cultures and European hospitality.
Upon completing his degree, Gopalakrishnan joined Hotel One Aldwych as a Manager in Training, where he began honing his skills in food and beverage. During his time at One Aldwych, Gopalakrishnan looked for every opportunity to get involved in wine purchases, bar operations and banquet exposure, and surrounded himself with exceptional leaders and mentors.
After two enlightening years in London, the traveler inside Gopalakrishnan looked for something across the Atlantic. He joined Broken Sound Golf and Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida as Catering Manager, where he successfully increased the club’s revenue and catered to various high-end events, including the coveted Senior PGA Tour.
In an effort to get back to hotels, Gopalakrishnan joined The Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove, Miami in 2007 and immediately fell in love with the renowned hotel company. Since then, he has gained invaluable hotel and food and beverage experience at various Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts, including The Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, Jamaica, The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner and finally The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
Gopalakrishnan describes his landmark moment with The Ritz-Carlton brand as the opening of Quadrant Bar and Lounge, where he played an integral role of developing the concept for Quadrant and redefining the luxury bar experience in a hotel setting.