Erica Holland-Toll, Executive Chef of Stanford Flavor Lab
Erica joined R&DE Stanford Dining in September 2015 as the Executive Chef of Schwab Executive Dining where she led the culinary team at the executive dining program rated #1 in the world for over eight years by the Financial Times. In 2016, she took over as Executive Chef at Arrillaga Family Dining. In 2017, she became Executive Chef of Stanford Flavor Lab, R&DE Stanford Dining's new space where students and staff can be educated, expand their knowledge and enhance their food, beverage and culinary literacy. Here, she develops forward-thinking eating experiences, and new and exciting menus which support R&DE Stanford Dining's ethos and values.
Growing up in the small Northern California town of Arnold, Chef Erica Holland-Toll enjoyed the benefits of a mother who grew her own vegetables, made candies, cookies, preserves and baked bread. When Erica left home to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, it was as a psychology major, but she soon realized she spent all of her time cooking instead of studying. “When I moved to Las Vegas I didn’t realize how much my mother’s cooking and philosophies on food had impacted my life,” she recalls. “All I could think about was food. It was a major turning point.”
A theme throughout Erica’s culinary career has been a focus on seasonality and locality. Since moving to the Bay Area in 1998, Holland-Toll has forged relationships with some of the Bay Area’s most prestigious local farms and has spent time focusing on developing her culinary techniques by working for many esteemed local chefs. She trained for years with Jan Birnbaum at Catahoula in Napa Valley, she was Saucier for Laurent Gras at The Fifth Floor, Chef de Cuisine for Traci De Jardin at ACME Chophouse, and, under Paul Arenstam, she opened Americano in The Hotel Vitale. Eventually she was lured to Marin, where she became the Executive Chef of The Lark Creek Inn. After the Inn closed, Erica returned to San Francisco as Executive Chef of the Westin Hotel and Ducca restaurant.
After 15 years focusing on the kitchen, Erica found herself interested in branching out to learn more about front of house operations, and so, became opening General Manager and Executive Chef of Prather Ranch Meat Company’s American Eatery. There she focused on fast casual take away, merchandizing, whole animal utilization and butchery. After leaving Prather Ranch Meat Company, she connected with the Slanted Door Group and was the Executive Chef and General Manager of Hard Water on the Embarcadero before leaving to join the R&DE Stanford Dining team.
When not working, Holland-Toll enjoys camping, hiking, mountain biking and making homemade jams and preserves. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their son.