Chef Haigler joined Grand Isle in the fall of 2014 and, while he’s new to Grand Isle, he’s no stranger to Coastal cooking! Born and raised in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Chef Haigler grew up in the creeks, beaches and the surrounding waters fishing, crabbing, and on shrimp boats with family friends. He began cooking as a teenager at The Waffle House then moved on to cook his way through Charleston for over a decade. In 2005, he moved to NYC and cooked for Craft, Kittichai, and Jean-Georges Spice Market until 2006, when he decided to move to New Orleans. After years of paying his dues working various positions in New Orleans restaurants, he followed his passion for charcuterie, getting hired on the spot at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico where he ran the butchery program for 2 years. Most recently, you could have found him at the highest rated eatery in the French Quarter: Restaurant R’evolution, where he spent two years on the Opening Chefs Team, or on the inaugural National tour with Dinner Lab.
Jeff Hof started his career in the restaurant business at the age of 14. He continued to work in restaurants until his sophomore year in college when he transitioned to the hotel industry in Food and Beverage Management. He worked for two four star hotels in the city and eventually worked his way up to Food and Beverage Director. Hof then ventured into the sales side of the business where he sold and produced small catering functions to full size corporate events for more than 1000 people. In 2000, Hof connected with his now partner, Joel Dondis in a new catering venture near the Convention Center and in 2007 they opened Grand Isle Restaurant together with Dave Pearson. Hof is the General Manager of the restaurant and the operating partner for the business.
Marketing/Partner, David Pearson
David Pearson has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 15 holding positions from bus boy to manager. Graduate of LSU- Business Administration he gained experience in hospitality sales & marketing in his 25 year tenure with American Express. David has been a long time member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and served as a State Board Director for 10 years. David is the Director of Marketing & Finance for Grand Isle.
Founding Partner, Joel Dondis
Joel Dondis began his culinary sojourn at the age of eleven, serving classic French cuisine to his family and friends in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cultivating his passion and talent through his formative years, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Upon graduation, Joel traveled to Europe to expand his knowledge of the culinary arts, fine dining and impeccable service. He worked at the Michelin-rated Schloss Hotel and Restaurant Gargantua in Frankfurt, Germany.
Bringing his practical experiences back home, Joel worked for the Brennan family at Mr. B’s Bistro. His next stop was at Emeril’s where he earned the responsibility and title of Sous Chef. Upon leaving his three-year stint at Emeril’s, Joel founded Joel’s Grand Cuisine, Inc, now called Joel Catering and Event Planning (JCEP).
JCEP is widely regarded to be a local and national industry leader and the largest off-premise catering and event planning company in New Orleans. In 2000, Joel founded Joel’s at the Hampton, which is the food and beverage provider for the Hampton Inn and Suites Convention Center.
Celebrating ten years of Joel Catering and Event Planning, Joel unveiled La Petite Grocery in 2004. Now an institution, this French-influenced restaurant is a favorite dining establishment among locals and tourists alike.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 2006 Restaurateur of the Year, Joel continues to delight locals and tourists with the opening of Sucré, a one-of-a-kind dessert boutique in New Orleans’ historic Garden District. Sucré launched in April 2007. Immediately following Sucré, Joel introduced Grand Isle in June 2007, a casual fresh seafood restaurant along Harrah’s Hotel and Casino Fulton Street development.
In 2008, Joel was named New Orleans Magazine’s 2008 Restaurateur of the Year. Since launching his first entrepreneurial venture in 1993, Joel has become a key player on the New Orleans hospitality and restaurant scene.