For this edition of Chef’s Corner, we caught up with Frederick Clabaugh, executive chef at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.
Rated as AAA® Four Diamond Accommodation for nearly 20 years, the Delaware North-owned-and-operated Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a stunning mountain resort set two miles from Yosemite National Park and surrounded by noble evergreen forest. Tenaya Lodge is an all-season resort featuring lodge rooms and cottage rooms, a rich range of recreational activities, a 10,000 square-foot luxury spa, ample meeting and event space, indoor and outdoor pools and five dining venues located on the property.
As the venue’s executive chef, Clabaugh takes culinary artistry to “higher ground” with his signature Sierra Alpine cuisine. With more than 30 years of experience in high-intensity culinary production and upscale dining, he oversees all five restaurants at Tenaya Lodge and in-room dining as well as meeting, group and banquet menus.
The talented, handpicked culinary team at Tenaya Lodge – just outside the gates of Yosemite National Park in California – is what he calls “the secret to his success.”
Words that describe you
Creative, passionate, tenured, committed, fun-loving, especially when it comes to food!
Words that describe your food
Innovative, profitable, cutting-edge, visually appealing and delicious.
Your favorite moment with Delaware North
The 2015 Delaware North Parks & Resorts General Managers Conference at Tenaya Lodge. Partnering with the Los Angeles Patina Restaurant Group pastry division allowed us to showcase talents and produce amazing culinary experiences for the attendees.
The best advice you ever received in a kitchen
Do the best you can at every moment of every day. Utilize your staff and foster their talents, as they all have something to offer.
Your favorite food(s)
I LOVE all food; it’s hard to pick just one. For me, it comes down to the perfect combination of the right company, atmosphere, service staff, and food and beverage offerings that make it a truly magical culinary experience.
Your least-favorite food(s)
Old-world Chinese or Italian Restaurants left over from the 1970s and 80s that have not cared enough to upgrade their products. A little creativity and commitment goes a long way.
Cooking or other heroes
There are so many who have influenced me through the years and so many interactions that spurred ideas about cooking. Some of the chefs who stand out at this moment in time are:
My mother, Mirren Clabaugh. She migrated from Scotland when she was 8 years old and fostered her creativity at the New York School of Art. Her creative passion filtered into the kitchen, where her homemade dishes spurred my love of food and cooking. If I recall correctly, she bought me my first set of kitchen knives.
Heston Blumenthal – for cooking an inspirational meal at the Fat Duck/The Hinds Head while traveling in London. The year I was there, the Fat Duck was considered the best restaurant in the world. Amazing!
Julia Child – for the memorable cooking shows when I was a kid and, of course, “The French Chef Cook Book.” Unforgettable.
Christian Schmidt – a mentor, dear friend and traveling companion. Christian has always been there to support my career and is actually the person who introduced me to Tenaya Lodge and (General Manager) Paul Ratchford about 20 years ago. We look forward to our travels to other countries every year, and most of all – mapping out all the restaurants and culinary adventures along the way. Good times and great friends.
(Delaware North Corporate Chef) Roland Henin – for the American Chef Federation support and training classes that tested my abilities and knowledge in the wonderful world of food. YES, CHEF!