Vincent Savignano is the director of food and beverage and the executive chef at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. Mustangs & Burros is the signature restaurant at the resort, offering a menu of Baja-inspired favorites showcasing the finest seasonal ingredients from the San Diego area. Learn about Vincent Savignano…
Hometown: Garnerville, New York
First job: I was 15 years old when I took my first job at a local Italian restaurant in my hometown of Garnerville. I met the owner and chef who were both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America and discovered that I had found my calling.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: My wife of nearly 20 years, Corrin, and our kids, Teah and Nicholas, love to take road trips to explore Southern California in addition to trying new restaurants and hiking with our dog, Bennett. We regularly drive to Encinitas in North County to get our activated charcoal gelato from Gelato 101. It’s one of our favorite family activities and the gelato is delicious. We are also beach lovers – our kids were born in Florida and now living in Southern California, it’s a big part of our family life. The kids stay pretty busy with sports and school and with life flying by so quickly, we appreciate the moments where we can take time for ourselves to relax, decompress and live in the moment.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: There are a few accomplishments I am particularly proud of. Prior to accepting my first real chef role in The Grill at Scottsdale TPC when I 24 years old, I was invited to the James Beard House as the saucier for Lenny Ruben, who was nominated for the “Best Chef – Southwest” award. There was a large team of chefs, I believe 18 total, representing the hotel with more than 120 culinarians in attendance so the competition was heavy. I also received a few accolades I am proud of including being named one of the top 25 chefs in the Southwest by the Arizona Republic and the restaurant I was working at winning a steakhouse of the year award from the same outlet.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Being responsible for seven outlets in one hotel and leading the planning and execution of a full transformation of concept and menus. It was a turning point in my career.
Someone who inspires you and why: I admire basketball player Jim Valvano very much – his speech at the 1993 ESPYs is timeless and still resonates today. The quote I am most fond of from that speech is, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Set goals and figure out what you need to do to accomplish them. Stay humble and be open to learning from anyone in any position. There is no finish line.
Favorite quote: My favorite quote is from Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.”
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I have a big fear of heights!
What makes someone fabulous: I think a person’s genuine and thoughtful ability to put others before themselves makes a person truly fabulous.