Trendsetter to Know: Peter McQuaid, Executive Chef at Cala Scottsdale

Name: Peter McQuaid

Instagram: @chefpetermcquaid


Age: 25

Title: Executive Chef

Married/Single: Have an amazing girlfriend, Brittney

Kids:  None, with none planned, maybe one day 🙂

City you live in: Phoenix

A typical day in my life includes… Overseeing all culinary operations at my restaurant Cala Scottsdale. I oversee a staff of more than 25 culinarians here at Cala. After work you can catch me with a glass of wine or a dirty martini in hand in enjoying life with my girlfriend Brittney.

I was born… in Scottsdale.

My favorite thing about Arizona… I love the growing food scene here in Arizona, we have so many amazing restaurants and chefs here in the valley and I think we are on the cusp of being a culinary destination. I also love Arizona for all its diverse scenery. You can drive 2 hours from Phoenix and be in Flagstaff, where it snows half the year or in Sedona where you can see the most incredible views.

I’m listening to… Whatever Brittney puts on, I am banned from being DJ. If I had to choose maybe some Fleetwood Mac or some Classic County

My family… I have 2 beautiful younger sisters, Grace and Lucy. My mom Shannon and my dad Peter Sr. All my immediate family and most of my cousins are here in Arizona or California and love to frequent the restaurant! I love to see them all enjoy Cala. Brittney and I have a four legged child, Cleo the weiner dog.

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be… Anthony Bourdain, I always admired his perspective and love for travel and food. He really brought to light and encouraged people to eat with the locals, to try new things, and to take risks in their travels. I love to travel and always try to find the true food that represents that culture. A close second would be Marco Pierre White, as probably the first “celebrity chef” it would be a crazy experience to hear a couple stories from him from his restaurants and all the great chefs that came from his kitchen. I can’t not say one of my favorite actors and go to movies as well… Liam Neeson.

One thing I cannot live without… My team!! My team hands down keeps everything running smooth and is one of the greatest blessings in my life. From my Chef squad of Clinton Lomayma, Cisco Zazueta, Gabi Bissell, Jefe Bobby, Payton and my entire culinary team to everyone who makes Cala a success (too many amazing people to name them all). I have the best team I could ask for and am incredibly grateful for all of my guys!

When I was younger, I wanted to be… I wanted to be an FBI agent, when I was a kid I actually lived next door to 2 FBI agents and that was pretty cool!! Still my favorite movies and shows, anything government agent related, I’m in!

I’m inspired by… In food and cooking I am inspired by the freshness of ingredients and letting ingredients shine in their best form. I am also very inspired through travel. Brittney and I just took a great trip to Mexico City with some friends and I came back with so much inspiration from eating some of the best food I have ever had.

The one person who motivates me is… Brittney, my girlfriend, is one of my greatest supporters and she motivates me to push myself and be the best I can be everyday. She pushes me to step outside my comfort zone in life and really motivates me to work harder everyday for our life together.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be… I would end homelessness. This was a lifelong vision and goal from one of my greatest inspirations and role models in life. He, Michael McQuaid and my grandmother Molly McQuaid have spent their lives helping the homeless and sometime in my life I would like to continue his legacy.

The perfect day would be… My perfect day is exploring a new place and trying new foods and experiences in different cultures. Also a Mai Tai on the beach doesn’t sound too bad.

My first job was… I was a bag boy at Safeway, I loved walking the aisles and seeing all the different ingredients, fruits, veggies, meats and everything that’s in a grocery store. That is one of my earliest memories of being interested in the food world.

My favorite escape… Flagstaff! Flagstaff has a special place in my heart. It was the first real move that Brittney and I made together and lived in the greatest cabin for a year. I worked for one of the greatest Chefs Eddie Matney in Flagstaff and is always our go to escape from the heat and business of Phoenix.

My life… is filled with crazy adventures, fun, and hard work. I am fortunate to be able to travel a lot in my career, meet new people and cook in new places. That truly fuels me as a chef to keep creating and inspiring.

I’m currently working on… We at Clive Collective have a few projects in the works and can’t wait to show off what we are about!

Always… Celebrating life and gathering with friends and family. Surrounding myself with great people who share similar visions and midsets has been a goal of mine and when we are around amazing food and good wine, we are unstoppable.

Never… Slowing down, I am in a “go go go” mindset and don’t want to let up on the gas.

Favorite Quote… Thomas Edison “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Life is about making mistakes, picking yourself up and trying again. Giving up is not in my DNA and if you want something in life you should do everything in your power to attain it.

Biggest Dream…  I hope to continue to help build and develop restaurant concepts and dream of having a restaurant empire. If I could travel anywhere, I would go to the Great Wall of China. I have always dreamed of seeing that with my own eyes and think that experience will be incredible.

My Pet Peeve(s)… Being late, for myself and others. Yes, I am talking to all my guys… haha! Be on time, it’s an easy way to set yourself above the rest!

Bio-on yourself/company: Peter J McQuaid jumped into the culinary world working for famed Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza. Working side by side with Chef Esparza, Peter’s dream became a reality by launching his culinary career. Peter then began working under Chef Beau MacMillan at The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort to further his experience in the restaurant industry. McQuaid is a proud alum of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program and has successfully competed in their annual competition which allowed him to attend culinary school at the International Culinary Center in New York City. While going to school Peter began working at Chef Daniel Boulud’s infamous Michelin Starred flagship restaurant, Restaurant Daniel. Working at Daniel immersed McQuaid in the beauty of modern French cuisine. Peter also took on internships at Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park, David Chang’s Momofuku and Grant Achatz’s Alinea, where he rubbed elbows with some of the most celebrated chefs of our time.

Upon returning to Arizona, Peter rose through the ranks at Elements at The Sanctuary Resort eventually being named Sous Chef. Wanting to expand his creativity, Peter created Emulsion Popup, a series of popup restaurants that for over two years individually embodied a unique theme and dining experience. McQuaid gained statewide recognition in the creation and execution of his dinner series and was featured in Phoenix Magazine as one of the best up and coming chefs in the Valley. McQuaid also received the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Award. Soon after, a new opportunity arose and he was named Executive Chef of Mustang Monument Wild Horse Resort where he ran the food and beverage program for two seasons. During his time there McQuaid was featured in the Forbes Magazine travel guide. Peter held the position of Executive Sous Chef at Forest Highlands Country Club. Peter is now incredibly excited to be a part of the growing team that is Clive Collective, where he opened two restaurants as the Executive Chef; Money, Baby! Las Vegas and CALA Scottsdale.

Led by renowned chef Beau MacMillan and Clive Collective, Cala offers authentic coastal cuisine with flavors of Greece, Spain, Italy, Morocco, and every place along the Mediterranean coastline. Reminiscent of the laid-back seaside restaurants along the coast, Cala provides a spacious yet intimate atmosphere for endless celebration throughout the day and night. Cala puts the farmers, fisherman, and ingredients at the forefront, and blends them with a Mediterranean palette. 

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