Oliver Royale Executive Chef Darin Hoagland’s culinary lineage goes back to his Grandpa Joe Bettencourt, who gave up life as a Yellowstone-type cattleman to become owner and grill cook at Marty’s Inn, a hunter’s restaurant in Newman, California, near Modesto. Joe met his wife, Helen, when she was waitressing there. Their daughter Joyce, Hoagland’s mom, waitressed there, too. “The kitchen, with them, was my comfort spot,” says Hoagland.
He went to high school in Bishop, California, in the scenic Owens Valley between the Sierra Nevada and White mountains. Inspired by the movie The River Runs Through It, he and some friends learned to fly fish, which is still his favorite pastime today.
He lived in San Luis Obispo for a while, until he visited friends in Florida, liked the climate, and moved East. “At a certain point in my life,” he says, “I just decided to become a chef.” He attended culinary school at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, then got his start at Café Maxx in Pompano, Florida, and Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside Hotel and Bistro Mezzaluna.
In 2017, Hoagland missed the seasons (and the fly fishing), so he “spun the globe” and picked Knoxville.
He interviewed with chef John Gatlin and started at Oliver Royale as a line cook. He became executive chef two years ago. “We do upscale original food,” he says. “I keep my southern roots and add fresh seafood and tropical fruits. The folks here give me the creative space to keep it fresh and different.”
Appetizer:Tempura colossal red prawn served with squid ink pasta, napa cabbage slaw, nuoc cham sauce, scallions, cilantro, and Thai basil, paired with Mosel Blauschie Riesling
Entrée: Veal skirt steak with poblano risotto, black bean purée, piquillo pepper peri peri sauce, crispy yucca, and demi-glace, paired with Ricardo del Aguila Spanish Tempranillo Blend
Dessert: Fig and brie braid served with pomegranate molasses, spiced and candied walnuts, and fresh thyme, paired with Saldo Chenin Blanc