By Alison Bailin Batz
Photo by Debby Wolvos
Justin Macy is the corporate executive chef for CIVANA Carefree, a newly launched resort focused on wellness, mindfulness and all things fresh when it comes to cuisine.
You come from a long line of chefs!
My grandmother was the chef back in the day at Biosphere II, the world’s largest environmental science laboratory (and yes, they had a restaurant inside!). My mother was a chef at Miraval in Tucson. Growing up, however, I was narrowly focused on football, with a full-ride scholarship to play in college by age 15. It wasn’t until later that I realized what rock stars I had in the family.
So, how did you turn to cooking?
I was working part-time at Miraval – thanks to Mom. With football out of the picture, I was a little lost, so I was just going through the motions in many aspects of my life. Then at 18 years old, I became a father. Everything changed. I buckled down.
And you clearly had a knack for it. Tell us about the journey.
I worked at Miraval from 1998 to 2016, and as executive chef from 2012 until my departure. Our focus on healthy cuisine earned us national acclaim and some amazing opportunities, including co-authoring three books and appearing on everything from Chopped to The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
How did you make your way to CIVANA?
After Miraval, I took a brief respite, then joined Tanque Verde Ranch, where I had the chance to reinvent the restaurant. A friend convinced me to check out CIVANA earlier this year, and I fell in love.
Tell us about your CIVANA concepts.
Cafe Meto is adjacent to the 22,000-square-foot spa, so our focus is spa cuisine. At Terras, we have a little naughty (think select cheeses, nitrate-free bacon and grass-fed meats) along with a lot of nice (aka healthy options).
What would readers be surprised to know about you?
I love riding my Harley-Davidson, and I really love Disneyland. Seriously, I visit three or four times a year.
CIVANA Carefree, 37220 Mule Train Road, Carefree; 480.653.9000; www.civanacarefree.com.