Meghan Bowen was sixteen years old, working as a hostess at the Brigantine in Coronado when the kitchen first called her. She remembers peeking behind the kitchen door at the restaurant, taking in the frenzied, bustling, creative energy—and knew there was something special about it. Little did she know she would achieve a level of culinary greatness few chefs get to enjoy–serving presidents, celebrities, and athletes—before coming full circle, back home to Coronado to start Coronado Culinary Coastal, a gourmet food-delivery and catering company.
Bowen, who graduated Coronado High School in 1996, remembers pouring over gourmet food magazines at babysitting jobs, later recreating the dishes for family members. But she still didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. Later, while a student at Santa Barbara City College, she’d watch the culinary students amble out of class in their chef attire. That was it.
“I would just watch all these students come out in their chef jackets and hats. Right then, I knew that’s what I should be doing,” says Bowen.
She quickly enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale and graduated in 2001. Then, she beat out all the other contenders and scored the coveted position of executive chef at the Arizona Sun Devil Stadium with Sodexo—a French multi-national food and facilities company.
Bowen explains there are precious few female chefs in the business—in fact, less than a quarter of chefs are women, according to US Census. Bowen says oftentimes women, when they do appear in the kitchen, are told to “make the food look pretty.”
But Bowen beat out all the other male contenders and took charge of one of the Sodexo’s largest sports and leisure accounts. She was in charge of gourmet meals and catering for more than 60 sky boxes and served the likes of then-President George W. Bush, Seal, Steve Nash, and Tom Arnold.
Bowen says she loved the energy, the excitement, and the creativity, but the hours—often more than 80 a week– were brutal. And sometimes, the stress would get to her.
“If I was having a rough day, my staff knew where to find me,” she says. “I would be crying in the walk-in freezer.”
After another demanding position in Charleston, South Carolina, Bowen had the opportunity to take on the job of executive chef at Mindful Café at Sharp Hospital in Coronado. There, she refreshed the menu and transformed the modest little café into something of a culinary hotspot—no small endeavor. I mean, when’s the last time you wanted to go eat hospital food?
But on New Year’s Day 2020, while hanging out on Gator beach with her family, Bowen decided to switch gears.
“It was time for a change,” said Bowen. “I just knew that I needed to start over and do my own thing, where I had complete ownership and control of it. I had already missed so much time with my daughters. I had missed dance recitals and first days of school. I wanted to continue making amazing food, but with my own hours and my own terms.”
And so, California Coastal Culinary was born. These days, Bowen cooks up a storm, often in the company of her two daughters, and never hides in the freezer. She’s already busy delivering delicious, healthy meals to the doorsteps of Coronado clients. (Meals are delivered free of charge, always shopped for and prepared the day of to ensure the freshest quality…never days old.)
“I prepare all of our meals with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, organic whenever possible,” says Bowen. “I work with any diet restrictions specializing in vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and keto.”
Cooking healthy is the cornerstone of Bowen’s creations. She says she loves knowing she’s helping get her clients off frozen and processed foods, laden with questionable ingredients.
My husband and I were excited to interview Bowen when she delivered and plated a spectacular dinner for us. First, we noshed on a perfectly curated charcuterie board with delicious fresh nibbles.
The salad was a standout in and of itself—a crispy and delightful spring mix in a parmesan shell. As in, no forks needed…you just pick up that tasty boat of awesomeness and nibble away. Of course, Bowen molded the parmesan shell by hand, and made the dressing from scratch.
The main course, a dish of seared scallops with Meyer lemon beurre blanc, agilo angel hair pasta and lemon green beans with pine nuts did not fail to wow. (If the description is enticing, I can promise the actual experience of eating it is even more so.) The scallops were sumptuously seared, juicy and bursting with deliciousness, and the pasta was prepared to perfection.
For dessert, we enjoyed truffles made with dark chocolate chips, avocado, raw honey and vanilla rolled in toasted coconut. Even though they were made with super healthy ingredients, they tasted decadent and rich. So good, even my super picky daughters devoured them.
We also experienced a meal drop off service, which came right to our door in BPA free microwavable Tupperware. The cauliflower bisque was the perfect fall soup, savory with just the right amount of spice. (We were surprised to find out it was keto!) The main course was a fabulous harvest chicken salad with homemade pomegranate dressing. Drizzled with cranberries and topped with sliced cinnamon apples, it felt like everything amazing about October was giving us a hug.
Bowen sends out a weekly menu via email to her clients, allowing them to choose which days they would like delivery service. Prices for the gourmet meals are $28 each, and include free delivery.
So far, her business has succeeded on word-of-mouth.
“I do zero marketing,” says Bowen. This is a departure from the past, when she’s appeared on more than a few morning shows, cooking up fun recipes, and garnered an impressive amount of print press. (It doesn’t hurt she’s handy with the one-liners when she’s live on the air.)
Now, she’s content with the “home-grown” aspect of her business, as she continues to gather clients, create her own hours, and spend quality time with her girls.
“I’m right there with my girls,” says Bowen. “Even though I’m sweating and cooking, they can ask me something, and I’m right there. I can make them lunch. I am so much happier.”
Whereas before she felt like her own version of Gordon Ramsey, just too “crazy” busy, now she sleeps at night because she knows if something isn’t resolved, she can wake up and resolve it the next day.
The best part? She gets to play her own music while she cooks. Her choices vary from Jane’s Addiction to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to reggae. These days, after all, she cooks happy.
“You can’t cook mad, because if I made something mad, it would show up mad at your door.”
To learn more about Chef Meghan Bowen and Coronado Culinary Coastal, visit her website. You can also contact Bowen at 619-992-4224 and email at email@example.com to learn more about her cooking and sign up for her menu email list.