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Meet Teri McIllwain of Chandler’s Carlsbad in Carlsbad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Teri McIllwain.

Teri, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always felt the most comfortable in the kitchen. I began my career as a Healthful Organic Personal Chef, cooking not only dinners and special occasions but also meal prepping breakfast and lunches for clients during their workweek. While being a Personal Chef, I also would teach classes that included curriculum from Bon Appetite.

I decided to then attend Culinary School and wanted to do so where I grew up, as all of my early food memories started there and desired a smaller, personalized environment. I completed my program at San Diego Culinary Institute. That is when I moved into the Hotels and Restaurant industry. After many different hats and experiences, my culinary career had led me to my dream position as the Executive Chef at Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach Resort.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been challenges being a woman, trying to move up in the industry and proving yourself in a very male-dominated work environment. But by always putting my best work forward and sharing my passion for the culinary arts, I was able to prove myself over the years. I am also fortunate to work for Mentors that encouraged my growth, which has made the hard work even more rewarding.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Chandler’s Carlsbad – what should we know?
My cooking philosophy is clean, healthy, from scratch, coastal cuisine that utilizes local and seasonal ingredients. At Cape Rey, I have my own Terrace Garden and I love being able to grow some of the vegetables and fruits that make their way into our menus. I believe in refueling and recharging, so when building a menu I like to be sure to have some indulgences but also a good mix of healthy eats like harvest grains and seeds, fruit oils, superfoods, and seasonal produce and herbs. Right now we are working on the launch of our new fall lunch and dinner menus, which will highlight special from scratch items like our house-made hot sauces with peppers from our garden.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Growing up I always had an interest in cooking and how it was magic how recipes would come together to create something for everyone to enjoy. I also enjoyed somewhat of a teaching aspect. So growing up I was in between wanting to be a teacher or a Chef. Luckily I followed my heart and stayed in kitchen, where teaching is a huge aspect. We are always learning and passing on techniques and secrets to each other in the kitchen. I appreciated how special I felt when I was given a perfect meal and I wanted to share that part of myself with others.

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Image Credit:
Photos courtesy of Chandler’s Carlsbad

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