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Chef Phillip Dumlao Interview

It’s one thing to be executive chef for a restaurant or heck, even a restaurant group. But being at the helm of a stadium and sports venue is in a league of its own. Petco Park in San Diego is a microcosm - and Chef Philip Dumlao is running its vast culinary world.

This is beyond mere multitasking and culinary talent. Chef Phillip is creating a world of memorable food experiences on an exponential scale day after day. Overseeing hundreds of chefs,kitchen staff, numerous vendors and partners, a long list of diverse menus, not to mention thousands of guests - Phillip is master chef of his domain.

We sat down with Phillip for Spiceology’s Periodically Inspired interview series that dives deep into a chef’s psyche to talk about inspiration, challenges, juggling an entire stadium’s F&B program, favorite things, and a lot more. Read the full interview and get to know him below:

Walk me through what a typical day for you during baseball season looks like.

“I get in around 10 a.m. and do a download with my chefs, see if there are any red alerts and solve for those. I’m making sure products are being received and loaded - we partner with around 200 vendors, so things are very, very dynamic. We’re using large and small vendors - from Sysco to local vendors like Gabriel Tortilleria.

On a game day I’m checking that everything is ready to execute for a successful game, so I’m walking the kitchens checking on quality while the staff is producing for service, and then I sneak away to knock out some office work.

Here at Petco Park we partner with 20+ local restaurants, chefs and partners to serve their own food alongside concessions. I work with their chefs to ensure my team is correctly executing menu items to the brand standard.

Pre-gates, I walk locations, make sure everything is set - sometimes I’ll need to break away to do media with the general manager or meet with podcasters or bloggers.

Once the game starts, I do another break away to manage run-of-business, then checking visuals and food coming out hot. I’m walking the floor, if we have a chef table reservation I’ll pop in for a meet and greet, explain and plate some courses for the guest. Then you can catch me walking suite locations, the owner’s box, premium areas, making sure everything is flowing like a symphony.

Half way during the game, I’m back at the office and start prepping for future games. Then at the end of the game a quick turnaround begins. Yeah, I walk 11-13 miles a day (laughs).”

When did you first find a love of cooking?

“Growing up I watched my parents and grandparents cook in the kitchen. With a Filipino Hispanic heritage, there were lots of bold flavors when I grew up. But I fell in love with cooking once I was actually working in the industry. I started as a prep cook, then went to sous, then exec sous. I was working events and seeing that satisfaction of guests - that’s when I started writing my own menus and really found that love.”

People around you, music, books, travel, research - where do you find inspiration when you create new dishes?

“Really from other chefs and traveling. Working for a company like Delaware North, I work with other chefs who run similar food programs at a large scale like I do. When I travel, I get to see what they're doing in their region and what flavors are speaking to that crowd. I’m looking at their techniques and then come back home and try them out with my own twist.

I’m also on social media, I feel like it’s at its peak right now. When I’m on Insta and TikTok, I see what’s out there - places, techniques, who is using what. I’m also a big book collector, especially books by other chefs on their techniques.”