525LEX Restaurant & Lounge

525 Lexington Avenue at 49th Street • New York, New York 10017 USA

New York Marriott East Side

525LEX

Chef Bio

CHEF RENATO GERENA - renato.gerena@marriott.com

CHEF RENATO GERENA is director of restaurant operations at 525LEX Restaurant and Lounge, in the New York Marriott East Side hotel on Lexington Avenue at East 49th Street in New York City. A chef and graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, he has over 15 years of culinary experience.

He grew up in Newark, New Jersey, known for its rich culinary and cultural diversity. Inspired by his early home life, as the son of a Polish mother and Puerto Rican father, Renato’s culinary style today gravitates toward hearty comfort food, inspired by his family. His father, a restaurant chef, raised the family on American standards, including traditional lasagna and steaks, as well as Puerto Rican family dishes such as arroz con pollo and fried plantains. His mother’s influence came through Polish dishes such as homemade pierogies, kielbasa and dumplings – providing an interesting mix of his Latin American and Eastern European upbringing. The family’s culinary interests go back to his paternal grandparents, who arrived in Newark from Puerto Rico and opened a restaurant there in the 1960s. From a young age, Renato realized that for him, being surrounded by such a diversity of culinary talent, cooking was not only a passion, but something natural, passed down through generations.

At home with his family, Renato’s tool of choice is his grill. A typical summer menu would include braised short ribs, a whole roasted chicken, grilled potatoes, and grilled peach cobbler with fresh, homemade organic ice cream. A romantic at heart, and married to Erika, of Peruvian descent, Renato loves to prepare authentic Peruvian cuisine, known for its wonderful ceviches and other specialties.

Chef Renato includes a good selection of locally sourced ingredients in his menu at 525LEX. Items like New England white cheddar, Chatham Sheepherding sheep’s-milk cheese, as well as seasonal items like Red Jacket Orchards apples and Jersey tomatoes, make their way to the plate. His focus is on simple, high–quality ingredients that customers can feel good about eating.

When he is not cooking or working on new menus, Chef Renato is a stock guru with a successful finance blog. He also trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys basketball and karate with his four sons. He gives back to the community by representing his hotel and Marriott in his volunteer work with March of Dimes. He is an active member of the Black Culinarian Alliance (BCA), an organization that works to prepare students and professionals of color with the skills needed to succeed in the culinary and hospitality industry, both by speaking and mentoring.