Pelican Hill Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray enjoys creating new recipes and concepts and bringing joy to people through epicurean experiences. Whether it’s something new and interesting, old and familiar or nostalgic and comforting, he believes food is an experience as much as it is nourishment.
At 15 years old Dubray started his culinary apprenticeship, studying for his French certifications, and decided it would be his life’s work. “My passion for food and cooking is home grown,” he says. “I grew up in the kitchen of my family’s country house in France’s Loire Valley. We produced much of our own food, and I enjoyed helping my mother prepare big family meals. She was my earliest inspiration and mentor. Later, my mentors included chef Pierre Sauvaget at La Vie en Rose and chef Christian Rassinoux at Ritz-Carlton.”
A dedicated pasta room, also known as Cucina della Pasta in Italian, is where 50 pounds of pasta (over a dozen varieties) is produced weekly in a 9-foot by 9-foot room, which is always a perfect 68 degrees. “True to Italian tradition, Andrea uses only the finest and simplest ingredients including imported stone-ground flour, organic eggs and purified water,” Dubray explains.
A unique signature dish at Andrea is the seasonal risotto, served from inside a wheel of imported Italian parmigiano-reggiano cheese. The hot risotto is brought out on a cart, where a chef or server prepares it in front of the guest tableside. After pouring the risotto into the center hole carved in the parmigiano-reggiano wheel, the cheese is slowly shaved and stirred into the risotto. This creates a rich, creamy consistency and savory, cheese-infused flavor. The risotto, which usually includes seasonal ingredients such as asparagus, mushrooms or truffles, is poured from the wheel into a shiny silver staub, then placed before the guest. This interactive epicurean experience is designed to stimulate all five senses, from sight and smell to hearing and touch, and finally taste.
Throughout the Resort, guests find fresh seasonal fare with many ingredients sourced locally from the Irvine Ranch, located just 8 miles inland from Pelican Hill and accessible to Resort chefs because of the Resort’s and the Ranch’s shared ownership by the Irvine Company. Andrea’s menu also features the best meat and seafood from local purveyors, and many offer certified sustainable products.
Dubray has been a guest chef for a James Beard Foundation event in San Francisco and for numerous charitable events for such organizations as the March of Dimes and Meals On Wheels. He’s participated in many promotional events with celebrity chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and Julia Child. In 2014, the Orange County Business Journal named him Chef of the Year and he’s also been honored to receive the Marin County Branch of the International Wine and Food Society’s “Outstanding Chef of the Year” in 2002 and the French Minister of Agriculture’s prestigious “Le Merite Agricole” the same year.