Meet Chef John

For over twenty years Executive Chef John Harris has been enhancing fine dining at Sheraton Sand Key Resort. His success is apparent with the critically acclaimed Rusty’s Bistro, Sheraton Sand Key’s premier fine dining restaurant.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Chef John made his way to Florida after a six-year detour through Utah’s picturesque ski resorts. While enjoying the seasonal white powder of the Rocky Mountains Chef Harris was also refining his culinary skills. Training under the expertise of Bernhard Gotz, a classically trained, well-known German chef, Chef Harris also had the distinct privilege to work with some of the great chefs of the world, including Charlie Trotter, Norman Van Aken and Mark Franz.

Chef John’s culinary background from Utah incorporates a southwestern flair into the flavorful foods of the Caribbean to create unique culinary sensations. Using only fresh, bold flavored foods and the seasonal ingredients of the local markets, Chef Harris and his team have created a cuisine that is “Kissed by the Sun.” This philosophy is what each of Sheraton Sand Key’s dining outlets are based on, none as prominent as Rusty’s Bistro. Chef Harris’ soup creations are by far the most popular among the locals, it has become commonplace for them to visit Sheraton Sand Key Resort’s restaurants to sample his latest soup creation.

Chef Harris’ accomplishments have not come without recognition. In 2003 he was inducted into the prestigious international culinary society — The Chaine des Rotisseurs — and was also named 2003′s Chef of the Year by the Suncoast Cooks and Chefs Association. Most importantly would be his awards for charitable giving. In 2007 he was awarded the Above and Beyond Award by St. Petersburg/Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For over 18 years Chef John has been dedicated to giving back to the community that supports his restaurants. Chef Harris and his staff have supported many charitable organizations including UPARC (Upper Pinellas Association for Retarded Children), the Abilities Foundation and the Ryan Wells Foundation. In 2008, Chef John was the featured chef of the Great Chefs of Tampa Bay event that raised over $100,000 for the Family Resources Center. However, the event closest to Chef John is his involvement in creating “An Evening with the Chefs;” an event which gives high school culinary students the opportunity to cook and work alongside notable area chefs while raising funds for culinary scholarships for the same students. “Chef John’s leadership has opened doors in education and employment, and has provided students the opportunity to achieve their dreams,” says the St. Petersburg/Clearwater CVB.

Chef John Harris still enjoys preparing his sun-kissed cuisine for our guests. Whether for a large convention meeting or for an intimate dining experience in Rusty’s Bistro, Chef Harris’ creations are sure to bring you back for more.