Community, diversity bring La Jolla chef to National City

Marty Fay is the executive chef at Sandpiper Wood Fired Grill & Oysters in La Jolla.

Marty Fay, a resident of National City, is now the executive chef of Sandpiper Wood Fired Grill & Oysters in La Jolla Shores. Fay, along with his wife Jessica Valero Cervera came to San Diego in the spring of 2020, and after searching, they both found a home in National City that they love.

Renowned San Diego chef Christine Rivera, who at the time was Executive Chef of Galaxy Taco, hired Marty as her Sous Chef. Galaxy Taco transitioned to Sandpiper Wood Fired Grill & Oysters in June 2022. Four months later, Rivera departed the restaurant and Fay was named Executive Chef. His wife Jessica has since become the restaurant’s pastry chef as well.

Fay grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and while in high school he cooked in a café with his stepfather, the sous chef for the café.

“I realized that I wanted to continue to cook, so I moved to Philadelphia and went to culinary school [The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College],” he said. “After culinary school I moved to Boston and worked at a couple of restaurants. That is where I met my wife. She was a pastry chef at the restaurant. We were there for about four years. I wanted to move to California to get out of the cold weather of Boston. I wanted to learn how to make tortillas, and my wife is Mexican, so we were travelling back and forth to Mexico. I wanted to learn to make that style of food and it was not readily available in Boston, so we chose San Diego.”

Fay said they bounced around San Diego for a while from the college area, Clairmont, Pacific Beach, before winding up in the National City.

“I realized how much I loved the Paradise Hills, National City, Chula Vista area,” he said.

“We were looking for a home and I knew we wanted a home in South Bay, and we found this place in National City. I love the community of National City because of the different cultures and different cuisines.”

Fay said he loves working and collaborating with his wife.

“We come up with dishes together,” he said. “I do not know if this would be right for everybody, but I find it a wonderful experience to do this with her.”

Fay said at Sandpiper, they focus on sustainable seafood.

“All the seafood that we get in-house is all 100% sustainable and we get is from PureFish, a local sustainable company that works on sourcing, making sure everything is good for the environment and that we are not overfishing. We also get whole steaks, cut them ourselves into prime cuts of beef. All our food is cooked on red oak, so it brings a unique flavor.”