Executive Chef Rick Shell
Chef Rick Shell brings over 20 years of hospitality experience, 18 years of senior level management and an impressive seafood expertise to his role as Executive Chef at Cliff House Maine, New England’s revitalized oceanfront resort. In this position, Chef Shell oversees all culinary operations on property including Cliff House’s signature restaurant - The Tiller, outdoor dining area - Tidemark Terrace, pool side lobster shack - Nubb’s Lobster Shack as well as the in-room dining services. Chef Shell is excited to continue developing innovative menus, implementing food and beverage concepts, and supervising kitchen operations as he enhances the already spectacular food and beverage experience at Cliff House Maine.
With the sea in his backyard and even within his name, Chef Shell is dedicated to bringing the freshest seasonal and regional flare to Cliff House patrons and continue cultivating relationships with local fisherman, farmers, distillers and ranchers. Visiting over 30 Maine-based farms and working with the local food purveyors, Chef Shell provides his team with the knowledge, experience and tools to create menu items that underscore the local food scene.
At a very young age, Chef Shell discovered his passion for the culinary arts with an emphasis on Maine delicacies during his first position in the hospitality industry at The Taste of Maine restaurant, where he worked as a dishwasher. His career took an unexpected leap when one night, one of the chefs caught Shell watching cooks rather than doing the dishes, which led to an added responsibility of assisting the cooks, and ultimately developing the talent of a young and inspired Shell.
In the weeks to come, he was given small projects in prep work. From that moment forward, Shell knew his life’s passion would be revolved around the culinary arts. The inspiration he had as teenager still drives his love for his work today. The ability to create something, the discovery of a dish, the constant chase to master the craft is Shell’s key focus.
Shell loves to work with locals who shape the food and beverage industry and offering in the area, going fishing and foraging developing that hands on experience that sets Shell and his dishes apart from the rest. Knowing where the ingredients are derived from and seeing the pride in the cuisine outcome, raises the bar for Chef Shell to produce the most exquisite and unique dishes. Of course, there are a few items that will always be available on the Cliff House menu but Shell’s goal is to reinvent and recreate according to season, ever-changing tastes of guests and his always evolving creativity. Not to mention the 5am trips to the Portland Fish Market which gives him a first look at the catch of the day to then implement into his fresh dining options within the Cliff House Maine menus.
With his passion and love of seafood, commonly referring to the cuisine as a blank palate one with which he can meld into a myriad of flavors, Shell has also taken on the role of Cliff House Maine’s resident Seafood Sommelier. Within this role, Chef Shell will help educate guests about how to appreciate bites from the sea (how to break down lobsters, the differences in flavors fish, etc.), accompany them on a lobstering trip and then prepare their catch as well as conduct exclusive wine and seafood pairings.
Graduating with a B.A. from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 1991, he immediately began his career as Banquet Chef at Peppermill Hotel Casino in Reno, Nevada. After climbing the ranks to his first senior management position as Chef De Cuisine at Peppermill Hotel Casino, recipient of the AAA four-diamond award, Chef Shell was appointed to Executive Chef at Airport Plaza Hotel in Reno, Nevada.
Prior to joining the Cliff House team, he was the Executive Chef at Suncadia Resort, A Destination Hotel in Cle Elum, Washington. There, Chef Shell directly oversaw all culinary operations for the resort, which includes developing an operational budget for food and labor and managing daily operations for seven operating outlets. Chef Shell managed the full service restaurant, bar, coffee shop, in room dining, seasonal INN, food truck and banquet facility. He created artisan food for Suncadia’s signature fine dining restaurant, Portals, where he featured fresh, local cuisine with unique preparations. Additionally, he built and ran an onsite culinary organic farm and created menus with a strong emphasis on regional and seasonal ingredients.
Chef Shell is eager to create dishes honoring his native East Coast roots. His premier expertise in the culinary arts and knowledge of the hospitality industry has equipped him with the skills necessary to become a leader in culinary innovation and ensure the success of Cliff House resort’s food and beverage operations.