ENCINITAS, Calif. (October 28, 2020) – Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas today announced San Diego-based James Beard Award semifinalist Claudette Zepeda as Executive Chef. In this role, she will oversee the opening of multiple food & beverage concepts and lead the culinary team at the highly anticipated hotel that is slated to open in early 2021. Located in one of Southern California’s most iconic seaside towns along the coastal bluffs, the opening of the 130-room Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will mark a significant milestone, as the Alila brand’s first new-build resort in the Americas and only the second Alila property in the U.S.
Most recently, Chef Zepeda garnered national acclaim for her time as the executive chef and partner at El Jardín, a regional Mexican restaurant in downtown San Diego. During her tenure, El Jardín was included on Esquire’s 2018 Best New Restaurants list and was named to Michelin’s on Bib Gourmand list in 2019. She was named “Chef of the Year” by Eater San Diego and the San Diego Union Tribune in 2018 and was a James Beard Best Chef West semifinalist in 2019. Prior to El Jardín, Zepeda was chef de cuisine at Javier Plascencia’s celebrated Bracero and competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 15 and “Top Chef Mexico.”
“It is an honor to team up Chef Zepeda, as she is a nationally recognized chef who will bring extensive experience, a fearless culinary style and a bold approach to Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas,” said Benjamin Thiele, general manager, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas. “Her passion for her hometown of San Diego and utilization of thoughtfully sourced, local ingredients will be showcased throughout our dining offerings.”
At Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas, Chef Zepeda will lead all culinary offerings at the Resort, including its signature restaurant, VAGA Restaurant & Bar; inviting locals and travelers to experience the confluence of rich and diverse cultures in San Diego through her vibrant cuisine. Chef Zepeda’s commitment to responsible sourcing will be revealed through a menu that showcases the simplicity of California cooking.
Guests at VAGA will have the opportunity to pair their meal with dramatic coastal views or peek behind the scenes with a front-row seat to Chef Zepeda’s open kitchen – both certain to delight the senses. The beverage program will maintain seasonality and integrate ingredients from the dining menu, featuring rotating signature cocktails, local microbrewers and a wine list carefully curated with thoughtful selections of natural wines utilizing grapes from low intervention/biodynamic vineyards.
“My nickname serves as the namesake for the restaurant. Vaga has been my nickname since I was a child,” said Claudette Zepeda, Executive Chef at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas. “As a wanderlust traveler, my nickname matches my love for exploration and curiosity to see new things and meet new people, which is what led me to cook all over the world and make new friends that have inspired both my food and my daily life. VAGA Restaurant & Bar will offer an opportunity for guests to go on a culinary journey of exploration that reflects that spirit of wanderlust.”
Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will also feature The Pocket Pool & Bar, paying homage to the flavors and culture of Southern California, as well as the Baja Peninsula. It will be an oceanfront sanctuary for guests, as they relax and soak up the sun during the day or while watching the sunset at night. Offering light and bright poolside beverages, The Pocket Pool & Bar will offer guests multiple tropically inspired cocktails that match the mood perfectly.
Located off Highway 101, Coffee Box will undoubtedly be a hub for locals and travelers alike to gather and recharge. A lively respite where guests can peruse surf merchandise and handcrafted products from local shops, the Coffee Box will feature Encinitas-based Lofty Coffee Co. roast, alongside a menu of freshly made acai bowls and warm treats from the bakery.
Guided by its purpose of care, Hyatt’s multi-layered Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment further enhances its operational guidance and resources around colleague and guest safety and peace of mind. More information on Hyatt’s commitment can be found here: hyatt.com/care-and-cleanliness.