Executive Chef Alex Emery
La Valencia Hotel
With more than 10 years of experience leading kitchen teams and staying on the cutting edge of progressive food trends, Chef Alex Emery says that his cooking benefits from multicultural influences. One of the chefs he most admires is Sean Brock, a James Beard Award winner and founder of Husk Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina—a concept known for its modern Southern cuisine. Emery leans towards unique spices and locally sourced fresh products with an emphasis on seafood, making him ideal for the signature menus of La Valencia.
What is the heart of your culinary passion?
The heart of my culinary passion stems from the art of creating. I am able to express myself through my food while, hopefully, creating a positive and unique experience for our guests. I also find passion in teaching and mentoring the next generation—paying it forward. Seeing my team grow as individuals and finding their own strengths and passions motivates me every day to continue to push myself forward.
What are you most proud of in your culinary career?
As far as professional accomplishments, I think I am most proud when I look back at my humble beginnings and my personal journey into the culinary field, starting as a kitchen porter. With strong work ethic, passion, dedication, and sacrifice, my culinary path has led me to my current role as executive chef of San Diego’s iconic La Valencia Hotel. As a young culinarian, just beginning my career, it was one of my aspirational goals to work at a legendary venue like La Valencia. I could not have imagined at the time that I would be leading the culinary program here today. I am living my dream.
What advice would you offer to wide-eyed young chefs eager to build a successful culinary career?
Stick with it. Hard work really does pay off. Learn something—anything—each and every day, and always be a professional. Professionalism doesn’t come from an impressive job title. Professionalism comes when you carry yourself with grace and humility. You also have to be willing to make sacrifices to achieve your goals in life, to push yourself harder, because there will always be somebody with more raw talent than you. Make yourself stand out through leading by example, in your career and in your life.
For more information about Chef Emery and La La Valencia Hotel, visit lavalencia.com