by Barbara Woo, photography by Carissa Woo

Meet  Chef Andrew Vaughan

Growing up in Louisiana, Andrew Vaughan developed the belief that family, friends and home cooking are the key ingredients to a good life. Today, you can experience the soul in the dishes he creates as the chef de cuisine at Mar’sel, an elegant restaurant at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. From his New Orleans-style bbq shrimp to the nasturtium pasta, he adds creativity to classics, always incorporating local, sustainable ingredients from the region. “Coming from Louisiana, we had layers of flavors, here in California, a traditional credo is all about the simplicity and freshness of the food,.” Vaughan quips.

The allure of the stunning views  overlooking the Pacific Ocean , mar’sel offers the ideal location for an elegant dinner or seasonal Sunday brunch. Located just south of Los Angeles on the verdant Palos Verdes Peninsula, Mar’sel (a play on the Spanish word for “sea” and the French word for “salt”) offers a decidedly inventive twist on California cuisine. With a seasonally rotating fine dining menu that features locally sourced ingredients (citrus and herbs from the resort’s grounds, hand-ground chocolate, farm-fresh eggs), as well as playful takes on culinary favorites, Mar’sel combines approachable luxury with a breathtaking setting perfect for every palate.

Taking a deep breath and inhaling the fresh air, “I smell the sea salt from the ocean and get lots of inspiration.  My favorite dish here at Mar’sel is the main lobster,  burrata, uni, handmade pappardelle pasta, butternut squash purée, golden raisins.

I’m so  passionate about vegetables. Vegetables are very close to my heart.  People think I’m a vegetarian.  I love going to the  farmers market.  I love the wind blowing my hair, (even though I don’t brush my hair)   hiking, gardening, anything outdoors  that deals with nature. ”  A dish that immediately sparks childhood memories is “my mom’s  french stewed chicken with roasted corn over rice,”  Vaughan  says, walking through the herb gardens planted along the sidewalk leading to Mar’sel’s main entrance.

Vaughan hails from two of the most iconic restaurants in the nation, working alongside Emeril Lagasse at NOLA in New Orleans, and Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel in New York City. Most recently, Vaughan
served as an integral part of Terranea Resort’s culinary team, previously serving as the Chef de Cuisine for Nelson’s, as well as masterfully executing VIP Dinners for the resort, and aiding the development and execution of the successful Chef’s Table Dinner Series, which showcases the resort’s renowned “Farm-to-Terranea”
cuisine, alongside featured wines, to benefit a select charity.

I witnessed how he cooked a flannery steak,  the holy grail of beef, with impeccable organization.  Don’t let the simplicity of this steak put you off- Vaughan seasoned the beef with sea salt and pepper. He heated a large saute’ pan over medium-high  heat and added oil. When the oil was hot, he added the steaks to the pan and cooked until nicely colored. He added a butter thyme mixture as they cooked.

Then he concocted   juicy Gulf  shrimp served with a sweet and spicy sauce sings praises of New Orleans.  The flavors in this dish, spectacular, flavors spicy/sweet and herbaceous  over black rice Pair this with the impeccable, zesty, pinot grigio.