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See What Makes These Chefs Tick

Written By: Alana Aronson Hotel Chefs in San Diego

LOCALE Magazine conducted a Wells Fargo-sponsored poll asking who is your “Favorite Hotel Chef in San Diego?” We reached out to your top five favorite chefs and asked them about the ingredients in their recipes to success: inspiration, excitement, most delectable dishes, and more. For these loved local chefs, their passions are fueled by community’s heart beats, fresh flavors, and bringing joy to their hotel guests.

 

Executive Chef Julian Quinones: Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa

Question: Where do you draw inspiration?  

Julian Quinones: I love visiting restaurants around town to experience new approaches for inspiration. I also draw a lot of inspiration from the seasons. I look for local ingredients to help craft the menu.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

JQ: The energy and excitement of our culinary and service team, there is a lot of attention to detail and focus that goes into a great service period. I also love watching guests enjoy their dining experience.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 hotel chefs in San Diego mean to you?

JQ: It is so cool to be included on this list and it says a lot about the success of Twenty/20 team and the great people I have the opportunity to work with.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

JQ: On the golf course, usually Mission Trails. At the beach, or my favorite neighborhood restaurant Tj Oyster Bar.

Favorite Dish: Executive Chef Julian Quinones’ favorite dish at Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa? He is thrilled about the Pork Duo on their dinner menu. It serves pork belly and tenderloin, truffle black eyed peas, carrots and a flavorful apple mostarda natural reduction. Sounds like a dish perfect for the upcoming fall season!

 

Culinary Director/Chef Teri McIllwain: Cape Rey Carlsbad: Chandler’s

Question:Where do you draw inspiration?  

Teri McIllwain: I find inspiration in my surroundings and what is being harvested at its peak. I also want the menu at Chandler’s to reflect the coast, with local seafood as a focal point. From both the farm and the sea, I look for what’s in season and develop flavor profiles that showcase those items in the most unique way.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

TM: Honestly, I get excited when I see guests that are excited to be here. Our whole team is involved in all parts of our dishes, and shares the joy we have serving our neighbors something we believe in. It’s great. It creates enthusiasm—the colors of the food, the energy in the kitchen, and when a guest smiles as a dish is served.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 hotel chefs in San Diego mean to you?

TM: It means so many things, and I’m very grateful to have made the list with so many great chefs. The reason I began my career was because I genuinely love cooking and sharing my passion for food with others. With Cape Rey and Chandler’s having just opened in 2012, it means a lot that we have established a reputation in the San Diego hotel and chef community in such a short time.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

TM: When I am not at work, I’m usually at home. I live and work in Carlsbad, so I like to take time to enjoy the town myself—like walking to the farmer’s market. (If you see me, say hi!) Sometimes dishes for the restaurant come from ideas I have creating meals at home.

Favorite Dish: Chef Teri McIllwain swears by the Seafood Hot Pot at Chandler’s. A creative spin on seafood ramen, it boasts a subtly spicy chorizo broth, fresh local seafood, roasted garlic, vegetables and of course, fresh ramen. With an ocean view like Chandler’s, this dish is only fitting!

Executive Chef Dana Hauser: Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?

Dana Hauser: Everywhere! Cookbooks, online, magazines of every type, art and just walking down the street. Inspiration comes in many forms; I wouldn’t dare limit myself.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

DH: The energy from the team motivates me. I most enjoy seeing the young cooks get excited to go into a very busy service, especially now that we are moving to a Southern Italian theme in our signature restaurant, Amaya. We have also seen great response from our new all-American menus at the Clubhouse Grill. The energy is high in our kitchens these days!

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 hotel chefs in San Diego mean to you?  

DH: It’s great to be recognized amongst some of the top chefs in the city. San Diego has an excellent food scene; I am proud to be a part of it.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

DH: My husband and I love to take our Staffordshire Bull Terrier to Pacific Beach, which often coincides with a visit to a patio for a local craft beer.

Favorite Dish: The Branzino for two on Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s Amaya menu is Executive Chef Dana Hauser’s favorite dish. With Italian sausage, Salmoriglio, capers and warm potato, this is a flavorful and dynamic dish that is sure to satisfy anyone. For dessert? She opts for the signature Budino.

 

Chef Kevin McCarthy: Park Hyatt Aviara: Vivace Restaurant

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?

Kevin McCarthy: The inspiration that drives me is the raw ingredients selection process. Looking, touching and smelling the freshly picked produce from the local farmers, which inspire me to craft the menu in Vivace.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

KM: I would relate it to same feelings one would experience prior to a big game for an athlete.  It’s the thrill to the start of a big game and now is the time for my team and I to put together memorable show. This rush is what allured me to the profession from the start, and still does to this day. The passion that drives my team is also what excites me. It is an infectious energy that transcends throughout the kitchen and into the heartfelt dishes we prepare each evening.  

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 hotel chefs in San Diego mean to you.

KM: This is a tremendous accomplishment for me. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by such a strong staff and a supportive team of chefs at Park Hyatt Aviara. They continue to challenge me to take my skills to the next level.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

KM: When not at work I’m surfing the beautiful beaches of Carlsbad, spending time with my family or exploring other wonderful restaurants around town.

Favorite Dish: With Vivace making all pasta from scratch, the hardest part for Chef McCarty is choosing his favorite. Currently, Chef Kevin McCarthy is set on the ricotta gnocchi. This dish serves up fresh pasta, vibrant rapini, succulent braised pork shoulder and Calabrian pepper. A twist on a popular and classic pork roast sandwich back East, this is a fan favorite on the West Coast for sure.

 

Executive Chef Chris Aguirre: Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?

Chris Aguirre: I draw my inspiration from everyday life and my surroundings. I am lucky enough to work just steps from the ocean and the bay. Fresh seafood plays a big role in our cuisine. San Diego also lends itself to amazing farmers with the best produce and artists that thrive on thinking outside the box.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

CA: The quiet time when the line is set and the team is ready to execute. It is right before service starts when you can feel the intensity in the air.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 hotel chefs in San Diego mean to you?

CA: Since I am new to San Diego, I’m very honored to be in the top five with so many very talented chefs. I am proud to represent an incredible team at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

CA: At the Hillcrest Farmers Market with my two kids, eating and teaching them about seasonality.

Favorite Dish: Just in time for fall, Executive Chef Chris Aguirre shared with us a new item coming to Loews Coronado Bay Resort’s Mistral. The spectacularly seasonal dish will include Foie Gras Torchon with confit peach, brioche, and almond and red onion jam.

Introducing the Top 5 Hotel Chefs in San Diego Voted By You!

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