Sheraton Kona Names Two New Chefs

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Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay recently named two new chef positions in George Gomes, Jr. as executive chef and Francis “Junior” Ulep as chef de cuisine.

Gomes has over 30 years of culinary experience with chef positions among top Big Island culinary locales, including his most recent post as executive chef at the Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel. He’s also served as executive chef of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Prince Hotel, positions he held simultaneously.

During his decades-long leadership roles, Gomes has also held roles as executive chef at Merriman’s Restaurant Hawai’i, Kapalua, and corporate executive chef of Tri-Star/Jas Restaurant Group, where he oversaw five restaurants, including Sarento’s at the Ilikai Hotel on Oahu, Aarons at Ala Moana Hotel, Nick’s Fishmarket Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, Sarento’s on the Beach Maui, and Son’z at Swan Court Hyatt Regency Maui.

“There is so much history at Sheraton Kona, and I’m looking forward to making collaborative, positive changes with the team that bring out the culture in our guests’ dining experience,” said Gomes. “I love the Big Island’s strong sense of ohana and am passionate about sourcing from local fishermen and farmers as much as possible.”


Gomes graduated from Hawai’i Community College’s Culinary Program in Kailua-Kona and was raised between Kalihi, Waianae, and Honoka’a.

Ulep was born in the pineapple plantation region of Wahiawa and was raised in sugarcane county in Wailua-Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore.

Over a 20-year period, Ulep traveled between Lana’i and the Big Island as he held leadership positions at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Four Seasons Resort, Lana’i at Manele Bay, The Lodge & Koele, and Manta Restaurant at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.


“I grew up on North Shore Oahu in a mixed Filipino-Hawaiian family, where I learned to incorporate local flavors with fresh seafood and produce,” said Ulep. “I’m excited to be back on the Hawaiʻi Island and use all the knowledge I’ve gained to bring this fusion to Rays on the Bay.”

Ulep gained his culinary skills under the mentorship of former Manele Bay Lana’i Executive Chef Philippe Padovani, a pioneer in Hawai’i regional cuisine. He began his professional journey in Ashland, Ore. at the Winchester Inn Restaurant Shakespeare County.

Ulep holds a bachelor of social science in criminology and psychology from Southern Oregon State College.


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