March 22, 2023
An award-winning chef with impressive experience in fine dining around the country has come home to North Carolina and joined Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center as director of food service. As a man who loves God, family, food, football and fishing, Chef Ernest Bledsoe is enthusiastic about the mission of Lake Junaluska and growing the food service department.
“I’ve been at some prestigious properties including The Foundry Hotel in Asheville, Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado, and The Swag from right here in Haywood County,” said Bledsoe. “I have owned two restaurants, and I have won some awards along the way. Now, I want to be a mentor to those around me. I’m excited to help the food and beverage department at Lake Junaluska rival industry leaders and exceed guest expectations.”
As food services director, Bledsoe is responsible for all dining and catered events at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, which has more than 400 lodging rooms, a campground, meeting space for up to 2,000 people, and hosts over 50,000 overnight guests annually.
“Ernest brings to Lake Junaluska more than two decades of service in the food and beverage industry, outstanding experience as an executive chef and director and a heart for our mission,” said Mike Huber, general manager at Lake Junaluska. “We are excited to welcome him to our culinary team and confident that under his leadership our guests will be treated to high-quality, delicious meals and warm hospitality.”
He holds a degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University and certification as a ServSafe Food Protection Manager Instructor. His awards range from grand champion of a regional American Culinary Federation Hot Foods Competition to accolades for restaurants he owned in South Carolina.
“I feel blessed to have been able to do what I love and call it work for most of my life,” said Bledsoe. “I’ve been around the country throughout my career and am happy to come back home to North Carolina.”