Cooking is an enduring passion for Chef Paul McCabe who began sharpening his culinary chops as a young child. “I’ve been cooking all my life and learned by working side by side with my mom in the kitchen.”
After high school he hit the ground running as an apprentice under culinary master Michel Blanchet – one of Southern California’s most famed French chefs – at the venerable L’Ermitage Hotel in Los Angeles and was eventually promoted to executive chef.
Today McCabe draws on more than 30 years of experience and training in Californian, Mediterranean, Southwestern and Pacific Rim cuisines to take on his biggest endeavor to date – the reimagining of all culinary programs at the historic Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, a Destination Hotel, in San Diego, now poised to undergo a massive $80 million renovation. The property – originally built in 1953 by developer Charles H. Brown – was owned and operated by the family-run Atlas Hotels for decades and acquired last year by a partnership comprised of AECOM Capital, Atlas Hotels and Lowe Enterprises. The resort is now part of the Destination Hotels collection.
“This is the biggest project I have ever taken on,” says McCabe, who is the newly appointed executive chef for Town and Country. “I am drawing on all my experiences to make this transformation happen.”
He is charged with reconcepting the resort’s entire food and beverage operations developing all menus and concepts for four new restaurants while recruiting top culinary talent. In the interim he is planning interior updates and menu revamps to existing restaurants Terrace Café and Charlie’s while overseeing current culinary programs and directing 45 employees.
Honing his skills at top resorts and restaurants throughout California and Arizona, McCabe certainly has the culinary prowess to meet this latest challenge. Most recently he was the executive chef at Phoenix’s Royal Palms Resort and Spa – also part of Destination Hotels – where he relaunched the signature restaurant T. Cooks and won over Phoenicians with his clean, simple style.
While he is a native of Sedona, Ariz, he has deep roots in San Diego. Working with Town and Country’s former managing director Mike Slosser, he was instrumental in putting KITCHEN 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar - another Destination Hotels property – on the culinary map. After establishing KITCHEN 1540 as a Del Mar hot spot and garnering considerable critical and public acclaim, he went on to take the helm at Rancho Santa Fe’s acclaimed Delicias restaurant before being recruited to take over culinary operations at the famed La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Long known for his culinary creativity and innovation, McCabe has helped reinvent such San Diego foodie icons as Top O’ the Cove and Anthony’s Star of the Sea. His resume includes six years at the award winning Enchantment Resort in Sedona, where he worked his way to executive chef.
Over his stellar career, McCabe has garnered esteemed industry awards and kudos. Among these recognitions are being inducted as Chef Rôtisseur of the prestigious international gastronomic association Chaîne des Rôtisseurs in 2000 and being lauded with the Golden Sceptre and Golden Bacchus awards from the Southern California Restaurant Writers. In addition, McCabe was cited as a “rising star of American cuisine” by the James Beard Foundation and has been a featured chef at various Beard Foundation dinners in New York City and out-of-house events in California and Arizona. Most recently in 2014 he served as the host chef at James Beard Foundation’s Taste America fundraiser dinner at T. Cooks at Royal Palms Resort & Spa in Phoenix.
Says McCabe about teaming up with his prior KITCHEN 1540 partner, “I'm excited to be working with Mike again and putting a team together to reinvent this longtime San Diego resort. Repositioning assets – along with cooking – is what I love to do most.”