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Sean DiCiccoSenior VP of Food & Beverage
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"Traveling Man"
Senior VP of Food & Beverage, Sean DiCicco
Interview By Lisa Gmur, CSW

When Robert H. Dedman founded ClubCorp in 1957, he had a vision; to create private clubs where everyone is welcome, regardless of age, race, religion, or background. And he did just that.

Dedman died in 2002 but with more than 200 golf and country clubs, city clubs and stadium clubs nationwide, his legacy lives on in every ClubCorp from Maui to Massachusetts.

ClubCorp is the largest owner and operator of private clubs.

We talked with Sean DiCicco, ClubCorp’s Senior VP of Food and Beverage about the company, traveling the globe, and of course, food and wine.

Sean DiCicco, Senior VP of Food & Beverage

The Interview

The Mark Wine Group

Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up?

Sean DiCicco

I was born in Aliquippa, a small town outside of Pittsburg, PA and spent most of grade school and high school in Downingtown, just outside Philadelphia. My dad was a Chemical Engineer for Arco and my mother was a Registered Nurse.

The Mark Wine Group

Definitely not the hospitality industry. Was this a childhood dream or something you discovered later in life?

Sean DiCicco

Pretty sure I wanted to be a fighter pilot early on but the summer of my junior year I knew I wanted to be a chef.

The Mark Wine Group

Ah... so you were a foodie as a kid? Not a mac 'n cheese, spaghetti o’s kind of guy?

Sean DiCicco

Definitely. My Italian grandmother taught me how to make fresh pasta and amazing sauce. She was a huge influence on my career.

The Mark Wine Group

Love that. My nana also loved including me in the kitchen.

Was wine also part of your upbringing?  Do you remember your first taste?

Sean DiCicco

Pretty sure I was 7 or 8 sipping my grandfather’s version of cherry wine he made a barrel of every year.

The Mark Wine Group

Yum! As you got older, did you ever have one of those “aha” moments with wine?

Sean DiCicco

Yes! For me it was the musty, barnyard notes in a great Bordeaux, I was hooked!

The Mark Wine Group

Guessing you studied Food & Wine after high school?

Sean DiCicco

Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

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Play Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club, one of the most beautiful private golf courses in northern California.

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The Mark Wine Group

Nice! Definitely a door opener for a career as a chef. Where did you go once you earned that very prestigious degree?

Sean DiCicco

Tavern on the Green in NYC, which at the time was the highest grossing restaurant in the country.

The Mark Wine Group

Wow! That’s fantastic. What a perfect first job. I have such wonderful memories of that restaurant. I think everyone who worked there, dined there, walked past there… felt an intense sadness when they closed in 2009.

COVID-19 has had a very similar effect on the restaurant industry, even more devastating. What’s been your experience?

Sean DiCicco

Very impactful, devastating to our industry. I’ve been very fortunate to work in the Golf industry which has been one of the few segments that is thriving. While our à la carte business has outpaced prior years, we continue to struggle with our Catering and Private Events business.

Even before COVID, it is a very tough business to succeed in.

Hard work isn’t always a guarantee that things will work out. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet and work for great people.

The Mark Wine Group

Let’s dig in a little more about your career now that we know your roots. What’s happened since Tavern on the Green?

Sean DiCicco

Well, I’ve had a 30-year career in Restaurants, Casinos, Hotels, Catering, both property and corporate level, so I have pretty much covered the gambit of Food and Beverage.

The Mark Wine Group

As for your current job, how did you get to ClubCorp?

Sean DiCicco

My previous boss from Caesar’s Entertainment left his position to join ClubCorp. He called me a few months after he started, and I quote “I need you”. I joined the company 2 months later.

The Mark Wine Group

How wonderful. I remember from our conversation at dinner in Aspen, you’ve definitely seen a lot of the world. 

Sean DiCicco

I have pretty much covered the globe, yes. My career has afforded me great trips to Italy, Shanghai, Hong Kong, France, Portugal, Brazil and New Zealand.

The Mark Wine Group

Anywhere you left your heart?

Sean DiCicco

There will always be a spot in my heart for the Big Island of Hawaii, I opened the Four Season’s property Hualalai back in 1996. I also helped opened a Venetian casino in Macau, and two hotels for Caesars Entertainment in Dubai.

The Mark Wine Group

Definitely a fortunate life. Kind of jealous! But most of your career has been based in Las Vegas. What’s that been like?

Sean DiCicco

The majority of my career has been spent in Las Vegas, my three daughters were born and raised there, I call it home. We have a great place at the Lakes, just southeast of Summerlin.

The Mark Wine Group

And if I remember correctly, that’s where you met your gorgeous wife.

Sean DiCicco

I met Audrey at the Venetian Hotel, she was in Sales and Catering, I was the Executive Chef of the property. We both came to town in 1998. She moved from Brazil and I moved from Hawaii.

Canyon Gate Country Club just minutes away from the Vegas Strip, our Ted Robinson-designed course is the centerpiece of an unrivaled golf experience.

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The Mark Wine Group

What a perfect story.

Mark and I met on the island where you left a little of your heart; the Big Island of Hawaii at Roy’s restaurant in Waikoloa. I was selling him wine.

I am pretty sure we were tasting chardonnay with their buttery miso fish; a great pairing. Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing? 

Sean DiCicco

Nothing like a great White Burgundy and a fresh seafood tower!

The Mark Wine Group

Ha! That’s what we had on one of our first date’s. Love that pairing. Do you have a favorite cuisine?

Sean DiCicco

I would have to go with Italian, love fresh pasta. 

The Mark Wine Group

Can’t argue with that one. I actually cooked Lobster Pasta for dinner last night. How about wine. Do you have any favorite varietals?

Sean DiCicco

Burgundy’s and Bordeaux’s are definitely at the front of the pack (red and whites), Barolo’s… and an occasional Super Tuscan or big Napa Cab.

The Mark Wine Group

You mentioned one of my darlings; White Burgundy.

Okay, so, when you are not working (i.e. tasting wine, cooking, overseeing your team, traveling the world) where might we find you?

Sean DiCicco

I love hunting, fishing, running, biking…just like being outdoors! Love to fly fish in Montana, very relaxing.

The Mark Wine Group

Are you into anything crazy like Paragliding?

Sean DiCicco

I wouldn’t call myself an adrenaline junky, but I do enjoy fast cars/motorcycles and the likes.

I’d have to say not Sky Diving: just can’t see jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

The Mark Wine Group

Right? I totally draw the line at Bungee jumping and Zip lining.  If money was no object, where are you spending your next vacation?

Sean DiCicco

I’d probably take a yacht trip through the Mediterranean for a few weeks, seeing the sights, eating great food and of course only drinking the best vintages from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. And definitely spend some time in Greece.

The Mark Wine Group

I am totally coming with. (laughs). Thank you so much for spending some time with us.

Sean DiCicco

It has been a lot of fun!