Q&A: Executive Chef Stefan Peroutka on the Reimagined Dining Experience at The Del

Executive Chef Stefan Peroutka thrives on reaching new culinary heights—and most recently, that meant reimagining The Del’s dining experience as The Del completes its Master Plan. Prior to joining The Del—and bringing life to new innovative tastes and designs at ENO Market & Pizzeria, Sun Deck restaurant, Serea and more—Chef Stefan applied his classical European training while working at celebrated restaurants and top hotels around the world, from Austria to California, Portugal, Las Vegas and beyond. We caught up with the talented chef to learn more about his Austrian roots, San Diego- and Baja-inspired culinary creations and new dining experiences at The Del. 

What is your background in culinary arts and what inspired you to become a chef?

I always liked cooking from an early age on, but once I started my apprenticeship it just sucked me in. My first Chef & Mentor Volker Klein opened up my eyes to the endless possibilities in the culinary world. I was inspired by him to go out and learn about different styles of cuisine and embrace other cultures. I certainly have a classic European foundation in culinary arts but I have learned so much over the last 27 years in the field and every day is a new experience. 

How have your experiences growing up in Austria influenced the way you cook today?

I believe it has taught me to embrace simple ingredients and love for down to earth cooking and food.   

What drew you to lead a wide range of culinary operations at The Del?

What can I say, it’s The Del. It’s an amazing place. It presents its challenges, but I do not mind a good challenge. Early on, I saw the visions our owners and leadership team had for the property as a whole and for F&B at The Del. It was something I wanted to take on, to be a part of. I wanted to make part of The Del my own and maybe leave a bit of my own legacy in such a legendary place.

From ENO Market & Pizzeria to the Sun Deck, Babcock & Story Bar, and Serea – how has The Del’s Master Plan and reimagination evolved the dining experiences at the iconic seaside hotel? 

Our new additions have truly elevated the hotel. From the entirely restored Sun Deck with a new oceanfront, 360-degree bar to ENO Market & Pizzeria’s new indoor marketplace with grab-n-go food and new outdoor patio area for pizzeria dining, there is so much more variety for guests to enjoy. I am proud of what we’ve created, and we have a few more projects in the works that have yet to be revealed. It is an honor to offer contemporary and ever-evolving cuisine that keeps our guests coming back and gives them a chance to try something new with every visit. 

How has the Southern California beach lifestyle at The Del influenced your cooking style?

I would say it is more specifically San Diego and Baja California beach lifestyle that has influenced me in the last few years. I draw lots of inspiration from my team, colleagues, my weekend trips and the occasional night out exploring local favorites. It is a great area to explore and immerse yourself in. 

Other than The Del’s Chef Garden, what local farms/farmer’s markets do you shop at regularly?

I like to frequent some of the local markets when time allows—Hillcrest and Little Italy are always fun. For the hotel, we work closely with our vendors that provide bi-weekly farmer and local catch lists to us. We use these to source and incorporate items into our menu or create a special for one of our restaurants 

How do locally sourced ingredients play a role in the dining options?

It’s incredibly important to us. All the chefs on property embrace local ingredients and use them whenever possible. 

Beyond locally sourced ingredients, we also understand there’s a new initiative for the dining establishments at The Del to be more sustainable? Can you share more about this?
We looked at this from multiple angles, food sourcing of course is a big factor, as well as food waste reduction, water conservation, especially  in warewashing, eco friendly to-go vessels. It is a multilevel approach that we always review and improve on. 

With the Holidays upon us, there’s few major dining events at The Del including Christmas Eve Buffet, Christmas Day Buffet, New Year’s Event Roaring 20s Speakeasy and New Year’s Day Brunch. Can you share the scoop on the menu for each?

This year we brought back our spectacular Crown Room holiday events. We just finished Thanksgiving and it was a huge success. The new team that worked with me on these events really raised the bar and did an amazing job elevating the experience for our guests.

We still have limited availability for Christmas eve and Christmas day but seats are going fast.  We also created a new NYE experience—we are bringing the roaring 20s back alive with awesome entertainment, great drinks and a wide raging high and food selection that is really top notch. The event is designed to have you eat, drink, dance, and party all night right into the new year. It’s an all inclusive event that will be just a great all out party for our guests with lots of surprises and culinary delights. 

We understand when not at work that you’re an avid cyclist. What are some of your favorite local rides?

I love to climb on my bike, so anything out in the mountains is on my list. Great Western Loop, some hill repeats up Mount Helix, Honey Springs Rao, Lyon Valley, to name a few. If my schedule permits I also like to ride to work from Bonita where I live to Coronado up the Silver Strand.