Chef MariElena Raya graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts Management. MariElena grew up in her father’s restaurant of thirty years before attending the CIA. MariElena won several cooking awards including First Place at the Art Institute of Atlanta 2000 Culinary Recipe Competition and Honorable Mention in the National Art Institute Culinary Competition.

Before joining her father, Robert Dickson, at Robert’s of Charleston, MariElena worked at the Relais & Chateaux property Blackberry Farmin Walland, Tennessee and the Breakers Hotel and Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. She has also worked for Bloomingdales department stores as their culinary manager.

Other accomplishments include active involvement in the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Association and assisting at the James Beard House in New York. Most recently, MariElena and her husband Joe Raya, also a CIA graduate, have taken over Robert’s of Charleston restaurant and are continuing to offer a unique dining experience in celebration of the restaurant’s 30th anniversary.