The Team

Matt Morgan, Owner

Matt started at Sweet Basil bussing tables  in 1987. He had moved to Vail with a friend “just for the season,” because the ski bum lifestyle had been a youthful dream. Growing up in Denver he camped and fished with his family in the summer and in the winter would ride the ski train to Winter Park, so the mountains were always calling. Since one season was not enough and Matt was still working for the Sweet Basil family, he helped open our then sister restaurant, Montauk, in Lionshead in 1988. Matt returned to Sweet Basil about three years later as a bartender. He was soon promoted to Assistant Dining Room Manager and eventually Dining Room Manager. Continuing his upward movement in the company, Matt accepted the General Manager position of our newest restaurant, Zino, in 1998. In June of 1999 Matt hit a career landmark, and was asked to become Managing Partner of Sweet Basil from the founder Kevin Clair.  Another professional highlight came in November of 2012 when the Sweet Basil restaurant family grew again with Mountain Standard.  After the founding partner retired in 2016, Matt purchased his shares to become majority owner.  Today Matt lives in Edwards with his wife, Jana, and his twin teenagers, Grace and Jack. As a family they love to travel, have family ski days, camp, hike, and enjoy all the Vail Valley has to offer. “Do it now, life is too short!”


Paul Anders, Executive Chef/Partner

Paul began his culinary career at Mahi Mahi’s Sushi bar while pursuing his degree from Johnson and Wales University in Norfolk, Virginia. Upon graduating summa cum laude, he accepted an Assistant Chef position at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.  Smart decision, since this is where Paul met his now wife, Theresa. From this point, Paul traveled the country working as a chef at luxury hotels, focusing on fine dining restaurants, including the Four Seasons in Newport Beach, California, The Brown Palace in Denver, and The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.  Paul brought his experience and dedication to his craft to Sweet Basil as the Chef de Cuisine in October 2005. In the Spring of 2006, Paul was promoted to the role of Executive Chef at Sweet Basil. In November of 2012, Paul was again promoted, this time as Executive Chef and partner of both Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard as well as brought in as a partner.  Outside of the building Chef spends time with his girls, Theresa and his daughters Vivian and Harper, skiing, walking Bosco the dog, adventuring on the river, and watching University of Virginia basketball.  If there is a fishing excuse, Paul has used it! Although he cooks very little at home, he experiments with the Big Green Egg. Paul’s epic beard growing ability is preparing him for his second career as lumberjack/blacksmith when he settles back in Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg.


Taylor Frankel, Chef de Cuisine

Taylor grew up in Boulder and loved to ski and snowboard and everything mountain. She began her culinary career at home with her parents when she was a child.  They would cook elaborate meals on the weekends and their cuisine was influenced by a variety of countries, regions, and flavors. She fell in love with food and its preparation.  On her own she dedicated her time to studying and learning everything she could. Taylor attended CU Boulder as a physiology major and worked at a retirement home creating meals for the residents.  She knew then that this is what she would do. When she graduated from college she moved to Breckenridge and worked in a kitchen for about a year. In order to further her career she accepted a cooking position at Sweet Basil in 2015. Taylor was promoted to Sous Chef in 2017 and then again as Chef de Cuisine in the fall of 2019.  She says that she will never leave (we HOPE not!).    


 

Heather Morgan, General Manager

While most three year olds were watching Sesame Street, Heather’s love for cooking and entertaining was being inspired on TV by Julia Child and in the kitchen with family.  She realized in high school, as a Barista at Starbucks, that she was destined for the service industry which lead her to Cornell for Hospitality Management. After graduation, Heather started her career in a large NY hotel eventually overseeing all restaurants, bars, and room service within the hotel.  From there she worked for Jean Georges in both NYC and Boston perfecting the art of fine dining service. Heather was back to NYC in 2009 as a restaurant General Manager for the Epicurean Group. Her growth within the company lead her to the position of Director of Operations for several restaurants. She learned an incredible amount about operations, food, beverage, and Italian wine.  Although Heather was very successful in NYC, nature, space, and access to outdoor activities was calling her. She considered going home to Massachusetts and the Red Sox or to California but Colorado seemed to have it all, a beautiful place to live and play outside with family nearby. She started her search in Boulder and Denver but couldn’t stay away from the mountains. So Vail is where she decided to call home.  Heather is an avid runner and has completed 34 marathons. Outside of work and running, she can be found skiing, biking, boating, golfing, cooking, and drinking wine.


Chris Aycock, Executive Sous Chef

Bio Coming Soon!

 

 

 


Kristen Fannin, Dining Room Manager

Kristen grew up in a family that loved to cook and entertain in Amarillo, Texas.  Her early memories are filled with food and music at every gathering. She began her own hospitality journey as a bartender while attending Texas Tech University.  Kristen has held many positions in the food service industry such as server, host, sommelier, manager, and cheesemonger. She feels lucky to have had the honor to work and learn from many talented chefs and sommeliers.  Her professional adventure has taken her to many cities including Dallas, Denver, Boulder, Scottsdale, and Vail. Kristen joined the Sweet Basil family in November of 2017. She is a natural in the restaurant partly because her continued passions are cooking and eating good food and the appreciation of fine wine and warm hospitality.  She loves living in the mountains because she gets to enjoy the great outdoors, her dogs, music, and coffee.


Ben Daroca, Wine Director

Ben first became interested in the world of wine while cooking in Italy where he enjoyed daily consumption with family meal.  He moved to Vail in 1999 after finishing his degree in Anthropology at Colorado State University. Upon his arrival in the valley, Ben was given the opportunity to work at the long standing Game Creek Club on Vail Mountain as a cook. In 2003 Ben’s manager and mentor urged him to strengthen his diversity and he made the move to front of the house at Game Creek Club.  He was immediately fascinated by the synergistic relationship between food and wine. The way that wine can simply elevate an eating experience was something that intrigued him. Ben took a job in the wine department at Larkspur Restaurant in 2006 and ultimately took over the wine program there in 2011. Ben became a part of the Sweet Basil family in 2014 and takes great pride in overseeing a program that is ever evolving while showcasing benchmark producers from the best growing regions in the world.  The fundamental ideas of approachability, affordability, and fun are paramount within his program. Ben enjoys time away from work foraging for mushrooms in the spring, on his bike in the summer, and snowboarding during the winters.


 

Jessenia Sanabria, Dining Room Manager

Jessenia was born and raised in sunny, yet rainy, Palm Beach County, Florida.  She started her hospitality career hosting during high school and moved her way up into bartending by the time she was in college.  She attended Florida International University in Miami where she ultimately studied business and marketing after switching her major about four times.  She continued to bartend during college and on the side as she dabbled in careers outside of the service industry. The hustle of restaurants and excitement of the bar always kept her interest.  She was working in real estate, and one day she decided to pursue a better life balance and moved to a small town in the Rocky Mountains. She chose Vail for its year round appeal and proximity to an airport.  And the rest, as they say, is history!  She began at Mountain Standard as a server, was promoted to dining room manager then took over both bar programs at Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard. Finally, in 2019, Jessenia was promoted to Dining Room Manager at Sweet Basil.  Her attention to detail and natural leadership qualities made her a perfect fit.  Living in Vail gives Jessenia the opportunity to explore the unknown and play right in her own backyard.


Ryan Walker, Pastry Chef

bio and photo coming soon!


 

Jennifer Lewis, Group Function Coordinator

Bio Coming Soon

 

 


Ethan Quednau, Sous Chef

Ethan and restaurants just fit! Although he has always loved food, he never thought of it as a career.  He was going to be a rock-n-roll drummer. Growing up in Woodstock, New York, he spent his time working his grandparents farm, cooking and canning with his grandmother, and landscaping with his grandfather.  From early childhood he learned sustainability: grow and use everything. When he was fourteen he ventured outside the home for a job. He found himself bussing tables at a family owned Italian restaurant in his hometown.  He knew the restaurant was where he needed to be but the front of house was not clicking for him so Ethan job swapped and became the dishwasher. The kitchen was definitely his jam. One day a line cook did not show up for work and Ethan took on the challenge, and he’s been cooking ever since.  Ethan traveled to Eagle County looking for his family, and he found Sweet Basil. His father lives in Gypsum and Ethan came out to visit and get to know him better and never left. He spends his free time snowboarding, riding motorcycles, camping, hiking, fishing, and whatever his friends and family are doing.


Cathy Roach, Business Administrator

Cathy moved to Vail in June of 1977. Cathy started as a server at Sweet Basil in October of 1990. After schooling in accounting and computer courses, she took on the job of Office Manager in October of 1994. Cathy or Mama, as she is affectionately called, lives with her husband, Kevin, and has two grown children. USAFA 2008 graduate, Taylor, is currently a Major in the Air Force flying F-16, married, and the father to Cathy’s first granddaughter, Caroline.  There are numerous pictures of this beautiful little girl all over Cathy’s office. Travis, who studied web design and IT at Galvanize lives in Denver. Both of Cathy’s sons’ first jobs were for the Sweet Basil Family. In November of 2012, Cathy acquired the position of Business Administrator for Mountain Standard as well. Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard would be lost without their matriarch. Mama keeps everyone and everything organized and performing effectively and efficiently.  For fun Cathy practices yoga, climbs mountains, and loves spending time with her family and friends.


Rhena Rizzo, Executive Assistant

Rhena, also known as Rizzo, because it is her last name, has been working for the Sweet Basil Family since the 90s.  She has held many positions including busser, server, and host but is best known as a food runner. Rhena is originally from Southern California and moved to Vail for one winter season to escape college and learn how to snowboard. She fell in love with the mountains and returned to Vail after receiving her BS in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Although she has left and come back multiple times, she knows that Vail is her home and is not planning to leave again. Depending on the season she spends her nonworking time rafting, camping, biking, hiking, and snowboarding. Rhena was an elementary school teacher by day and Sweet Basil employee by night for 13 years and in 2018 she left teaching to work full time at Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard.


Jana Morgan, Marketing Director

bio coming soon!