Our Team



JOSU ZUBIKARAI
Proprietor & Kitchen Sheriff


Drawing upon his Basque roots, Josu opened the famed fine dining Spanish restaurant, Taberna del Alabardero, in Washington, DC in 1989, garnering immediate acclaim and quickly establishing a reputation as culinary chief of one of the most prestigious Spanish restaurants in the country. 

Under Josu’s tutelage, the restaurant earned an endless array of honors, including being named one of the best restaurants in the country by Gourmet, The New York Times, and Condé Nast Traveler. It also earned the prestigious Five-Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.  Josu was nominated as Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). He has also been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

Raised in San Sebastian, the Basque Country’s capital city, Josu began his formal training as a chef at age 17, working his way through the ranks in various restaurants, initially in the Basque region, but also moving around and exploring other areas of Spain. He grew up working in his family’s restaurant outside San Sebastian, developing the passion and commitment he brings to SER today. 


JAVIER CANDON
Proprietor & Chief “Make it Happen” Guy


Javier oversees front and back of the house operations at SER.  He has more than 20 years of experience with both casual and fine dining establishments.  His previous experience includes international work with leading hotels and world-renowned restaurants throughout Europe and the Caribbean, including the Hotel Melia Sevilla, Taberna del Alabardero, and Casa del Duque Vinoteca and Restaurant in Spain; Hotel Relais & Chateau Mas D’Artiny in France; and the Hotel RIU Melao and RIU Palace Macao in the Dominican Republic.  


Javier graduated with honors from Europe’s prestigious Escuela Superior de Hosteleria de Sevilla.  A native of Spain, he is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English.  In his spare time, he fervently watches Real Madrid games, cooks with his favorite 5 and 8 year olds, and dreams about his next restaurant adventure with Christiana.


DAVID SIERRA

Sous Chef & Lord of the Flavors 


David was born in Madrid and at an early age discovered his passion for the kitchen while cooking with his mother.  He studied culinary arts and spent ten years working in Spain alongside renowned chefs and restaurants before making the journey to the United States in 2009.  During his time stateside, David has put his culinary skills to work at two of DC’s most prestigious restaurants, first at the classic Spanish restaurant, Taberna del Alabardero, and most recently at Fiola Mare.

 
At SER, David is looking forward to going back to his roots and cooking traditional Spanish cuisine using a dash of imagination and utilizing healthy ingredients found at local markets.  He is passionate about showing guests the breadth and depth of the dishes of his native country.  
When David isn’t at work, he loves spending time with his wife, Melania, an accomplished pastry chef.  He also is a big fan of rock classics like Queen and Led Zeppelin and like a true Spaniard, thinks it’s always a good time to enjoy a nice glass of red wine with family and friends.


MERVYN LAIHOW
General Manager & Captain of the Vibe


Born in South Africa, Mervyn and his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he lived for many years. Mervyn brings a varied body of experience from Vancouver and from his travels throughout the world. He received his hospitality training working alongside a small group of award winning restauranteurs, chefs and bar owners. 


Mervyn played a critical role in the development of the Kaibo Upstairs and Rare Rum Bar dining experience in the Cayman Islands. In addition, he worked at “hotel” style restaurants in Melbourne and North Stradbroke Island, Australia featuring classic French inspired cuisine. Most recently, he worked at the Green Pig Bistro and the Mussel Bar in Arlington.

Mervyn is a graduate of the Forum For International Trade Training partnership with Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and has a global certification as an International Trade Professional. When he is not at SER, Mervyn can be found grilling in his backyard with his wife Amanda and friends, or traveling to take landscape photography.