Getting to know Culinary Director Teri McIllwain of Chandler’s Restaurant and Lounge
I ’m excited to share the stories of the abundant culinary talent in San Diego with Edible San Diego readers. This month I had a conversation with rising culinary star Teri McIllwain, Culinary Director of Chandler’s Restaurant and Lounge at the Cape Rey Carlsbad, a Hilton Resort, which sits on eight prime ocean-view acres across the street from the South Carlsbad State Beach and the legendary Ponto surf break. The California Craftsman-style design is oriented to take advantage of breathtaking views at every vantage point. It’s worth checking out for both Teri’s amazing food and the spectacular views.
Here are some highlights from the fun conversation I had with Teri.
LTP: You are a San Diego native. Where did you grow up and what were your early culinary influences?
TM: I grew up in Spring Valley and Escondido in a family of four with three brothers. My mom was a great cook and we had regular dinners at my grandmother’s house nearby. I have great memories of her roast chicken. I remember meals being a time for family to come together and I still feel that way about food.
LTP: Tell me about your culinary road to Chandler’s.
TM: I graduated from the San Diego Culinary Institute then worked as a personal chef, instructor at Sur la Table, then eight years at several properties at the La Costa Resort and Spa.
LTP: I know you like to source locally when possible. Who are some of your go-to purveyors in San Diego?
TM: Yes, I use local vendors as much as possible. We use Specialty Produce for our produce and Pacific Shellfish for our seafood. We use Bread & Cie for all of our breads and often source from local farms that include Go Green, Tutti Frutti Farms, Kong Thao, Be Wise Ranch, and The Garden of Eden Organics. [Editor’s note: Tutti Frutti is in Lompoc and Kong Thao is in Fresno.]
LTP: Let’s talk music now. Tell me about your first concert, some memorable shows, and your dream concert lineup that could include three bands.
TM: My first concert was Sarah McLachlan in high school. Some of my favorite shows have included Radiohead and Bob Dylan. The dream concert lineup is tough but I’d have to go with Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, and Disclosure.
LTP: I’m always curious to know where chefs like to eat outside of work. Where would you go with $10 in your pocket?
TM: I’m a big fan of Burger Lounge.
LTP: How about going out big?
TM: Jake’s Del Mar has always been a favorite for a nice night out with great views.
LTP: Is there something you crave on a regular basis?
TM: Yes, I crave sushi always and love Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub in Oceanside.
LTP: OK, we will wrap this up with your last supper. You get a starter, main, and dessert.
TM: Calamari, seafood pasta, and ice cream.
Chandler’s Restaurant and Lounge 1 Ponto Rd. Carlsbad 760-683-550