Palm Springs Flavor : The 2014 Chefs of the Desert
By Chef Andre Carthen
They’re hot, succulent, savory, sexy and delicious…and their food is good too!
Yes, I’m talking about this year’s Chefs of the Desert and I’m very happy to say that I’ve had them all…their food, that is.
Like the people that flock to our fabulous city, the flavors our chefs are bringing to the table are classic, edgy, explosive, tantalizing, and traditional with an urban twist. From a sunrise breakfast, to dinner during one of our magnificent sunsets or crystal clear starlit nights, the flavors are ingenious, a fusion of experience, creativity, farm fresh and made with a little love.
What use to be a dining wasteland, is now becoming a culinary oasis. Palm Springs is not just the playground of the rich and famous, it’s also the hipster hangout of those in the know. Whether it’s cocktails with appetizers, hanging by the pool or a fabulous elite party, PS is no longer just for spring break, golf and convalescence. It’s become a global destination, a mecca of modernism, a premier for International Films, Coachella, White Party; Weddings … each with its own flavor and our chefs are bringing the heat!
Their dishes speak for themselves, so we wanted to do a little fun Q & A of things you might not know, and see how the chefs pair-up with the same 5 questions.
Executive Chef Jason Moffitt
Bernie’s Lounge And Supper Club, Palm Springs Ca
292 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264 Phone:(760) 537-7082
A Coachella Valley native, Chef Jason Moffitt began his culinary career at the age of 17, when he attended the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.
Upon graduation, Jason began working for the upscale French- Vietnamese restaurant, Le Colonial in Beverly Hills. From there he ventured south to San Diego where he landed a job for James Beard Award-winning Chef, Roy Yamaguchi. Jason’s commitment to his craft ultimately led him to become the Chef Partner of Roy’s in Woodland Hills.
Feeling like there’s no-place like home, Jason returned to the Coachella Valley. Where he began working as Chef De Cuisine for an exciting new restaurant, Catalan in Rancho Mirage. During his brief time at Catalan, Jason helped to elevate the cuisine and assist them in receiving numerous accolades and the award of “Best New Restaurant” for the Coachella Valley. Jason also had the privilege of meeting Geoff McIntosh and Rand Howell, and the concept of Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club began to take shape.
His approach to creating the discerning menu you’ll find at Bernie’s was to revisit his love for traditional American fare and reinvent the classics, using modern cooking techniques and the highest quality ingredients, all while staying cutting edge. Jason is dedicated to building long lasting relationships with local farmers, purveyors and guests, all of whom contribute to the continued success of Bernie’s Lounge and Super Club
Favorite Utensil: Sous Vide Professional Thermo circulator from Poly Science. These machines are essential for dinner service and they help to create a more flavorful and tender product.
Favorite Ingredient: I am inspired by Fresh, Local, Seasonal and Sustainable ingredients and the hardworking individuals that help bring these products to my back door.
Favorite ingredient: Pork: of all kinds!
Favorite late night comfort food: Tonkotsu Ramen- It’s hearty, flavorful and warms my soul!
What would you be if you weren’t a chef: A poor struggling artist/world traveler.
Executive Chef/Owner Andrew Copley
Copley’s On Palm Canyon
621 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 Phone: (760) 327-9555
Andrew’s 20-year culinary career has spanned the globe. Upon earning a degree at Westminster Culinary College in London, he gained experience at the world-renowned Savoy and Park Lane hotels.
Following his time in London, Chef Copley was recruited by the Grand Hyatt on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, which received the Petrees Award for #1 restaurant in the state for the three consecutive years he was commissioned there.
He then jetted to the U.S. to join the Ritz Carlton in Maui followed by the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, which won the honor of #1 formal dining room during his tenure. Chef Copley made his way back to Hawaii as Executive Chef of the Lodge at Koele where his refined creations helped earn them the title of #1 restaurant in Hawaii for three straight years.
Wanting to turn a dream into reality, Chef Copley settled in the desert and opened his own restaurant, Copley’s. With rave reviews and accolades to his name and restaurant, it’s not surprising that Chef Copley is a major player in the culinary world and a contributor to media such as Restaurant & Hospitality, Rachael Ray Magazine and NBC.
Favorite utensil: Salmon Knife
I have always been inspired by the many different countries and cultures that I have experienced.
Favorite ingredient: Roasted Garlic
Favorite late night comfort food: Sushi…sometimes a little hard to come by late at night, especially in the desert. (smile)
What would you be if you weren’t a chef: If I wasn’t a chef, I would want to be a medical profession (doctor/ paramedic)
Chef / Owner Michael Beckman
Workshop Kitchen + Bar
800 N. Palm Canyon Dr. Suite G, Palm Springs, CA, 92262 Phone: (760) 459-3451
English Lit grad gone culinary, Michael’s ease in four languages parallels a well-travelled and seasoned skill set in the kitchen. Beckman studies at the Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon, France, and apprenticed at the fourneaux of the 3-star Michelin Lameloise in Burgundy. Chef de partie at Ritz-Carlton’s Vitrun in Berlin, Germany under Chef Thomas Kellerman (Tantris, Munich; Kastell, Hotel Burg Wernberg), Michael has cooked as a private chef in Los Angeles the past several years, where he’s focused on the farmer’s markets of Santa Monica & Hollywood, as well as the city’s burgeoning cocktail culture.
Cooking utensil you could not live without?
My Vita Mix. I love ripping through soups, sorbets and purees with it. No other blender gets such silky results.
Who or what inspires your recipes?
Mostly the farmer’s market. The seasons prompt me to adapt new recipes and dishes for Workshop’s menus. It’s important to go out a lot too…to places in our niche to keep fresh ideas going. Cooking, like any art, is often a dialogue between existing trends and fresh ideas.
Toss-up between good, rich, unfiltered olive oil and pecorino Romano.
Favorite late night comfort food?
I’m a sucker for quesadillas. My brother and I have quesadilla flipping contests. Just something I grew up with.
What would you be if you weren’t a chef?
When I was a senior at USF studying English Lit, I was torn between heading to grad school for a Masters or P.H.D. to teach; being a DJ; or moving to Europe to jump into French Kitchens.
Although I’m sure many would have benefited from his teaching and others would have dance their butts off as he vibrated the dance floor as the best DJ any White Party would have ever heard, we all are extremely, deliciously grateful for his choice in exploring the culinary world.
Executive Chef Mark Van Laanen
Trio and The Purple Room
707 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 Phone:(760) 864-8746
Chef Mark comes to Palm Springs with 3 successful restaurants (in Northern Wisconsin) under his belt. He moved to Palm Springs where he met his Partner Tony Marchese in 2007. Both having a huge passion for the business of food, flavor and fun… they opened TRIO in 2009. And now with the addition of the Purple Room, Mark says, “It’s been a big success and a wonderful 5 years working in such a sharing community and neighborhood. We are looking forward to many more years”.
My favorite utensil, is my knife I could not work without it.
What inspires me for recipes is our traveling. All of the wonderful beautiful smells tastes and sites all over the world.
My favorite ingredient is Salt It makes food taste so much better.
My late night comfort food is getting a great hand tossed pizza and a cold beer away for my restaurant and enjoying some good conversation with some good friends.
And if I were not a chef I always wanted to be a TV anchor broadcaster or a Hand Model !
CHEF/OWNER Victor Rodriguez
Casa de FRIDA (ARTSY LATIN CUISINE)
450 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 Phone: (760) 459-1681
Chef Victor has drawn upon his own cultural heritage of handed down family recipes to create dishes that are distinctive and memorable. Like the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, his creations become a self-portrait, with a story in every dish. Frida’s – a destination restaurant featuring Chef Victor’s own unique artisan Latino cuisine. A fusion of fresh ingredients and culinary influences from Mexico, Spain, France, Central/South America, Cuba, and the Caribbean.
What is the cooking utensil you could not live without: My Hands
Who or what inspires your recipes: My Mother and Grandmother
Favorite ingredient: LOVE
Favorite late night comfort food: GUAVA QUINCE AND CHEESE
What would you be if you weren’t a chef: I can’t imagine anything other than this; FOOD IS MY PASSION!
Chef/Owner Tara Lazar
Cheeky’s, Birba, Jiao
622 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 Phone: (760) 327-7595
It all started with CHEEKY’S homemade breakfast, made the way we like it. Who knew it would be the way you like it too! We buy it local, make it from scratch, and don’t make too much of a fuss about it. Simple, fresh and delicious.
Building on the success of Cheeky’s, this restaurateur/entrepreneur has expanded her culinary world with Birba (the lighter side of Italian) and Jiao (Asian fusion), both with rave reviews and favorites among the locals.
Our Menus are designed from the experiences of the things that inspires us: food, drink, art, music and design. Our eclectic interests and taste are what make us unique, and it’s that uniqueness that we hope to bring to you.
What is the one cooking utensil you could not live without? Tongs
Who or what inspires your recipes? My mother
Favorite ingredient? Butter, chives
Favorite late night comfort food? Spicy Korean instant ramen
What would you be if you weren’t a chef? Racecar driver
Executive Chef Warren Cordoba
Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa
1600 North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA Phone: 760-778-6659
Chef Warren studied culinary arts and kitchen management at New England Culinary Institute – C.I.A. Pro chef, Chef de cuisine, American Culinary Federation – Certified chef de cuisine. On his way to Executive Chef for Noble House & Resorts he mastered his craft at The Port Royal Club, L’Aberge Del Mar, and the Viceroy Palm Springs. It is our great future that he has chosen to make the Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa his home…for the moment.
Q: What is the one cooking utensil you could not live without?
mini Offset spatula
Q: Who or what inspires your recipes?
I have so many great childhood memories, particularly of family and food. So I’m inspired by those and the seasons.
Q: Favorite ingredient?
Bacon double smoked – come on who doesn’t like bacon?
Q: Favorite late night comfort food?
Ramen – easy, lite and I can add whatever I like to it.
Q: What would you be if you weren’t a chef?
Chef / Owner Mindy Reed
Zin American Bistro and Alicante, a Spanish Mediterranean Bistro.
198 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 Phone: (760) 322-6300
Zin American Bistro is a modern new world version of a traditional French Bistro. A marriage of French Passion with my American Sensibility!
Owner of Zin American Bistro and Alicante, Mindy Reed has made her mark in Palm Springs as a successful entrepreneur, active community member and a best friend to the LGBT community.
“I have always loved cooking, wine and food and been a workaholic. I loved working in restaurants but really wanted to be part of something I could be proud of and have more control of my life (what did I know?)”.
Her passion for quality and great food come thru in both restaurants but in completely different ways.
At Zin, it’s a little more high end without being fancy or expensive. The food is a little more complex, the wine list much bigger, linen table clothes but still topped with paper for that bistro feeling. The specials change almost daily and the menu is more driven by the Chef.
At Alicante it feels more like a little sidewalk European Cafe. Casual; you can just stop in for a drink and tapas or stay for dinner.
Mindy’s community service is equaled by none. In 2010, 2011 and 2013 she participated in the Aids LifeCycle Ride, a 7-day cycling event from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco Aids Foundation. A top 25 fundraiser two years, she has raised over $36,000 for this important cause. She is currently training for the 2015 ride.
Honored for her support of equality in the 2011 Gay Pride Parade as Community Grand Marshall, Mindy is an example of how straight allies and the LGBT community can work together to improve the lives of all.
Luis A. Vega, Executive Chef at Zin American Bistro.
Zin American Bistro and Alicante, a Spanish Mediterranean Bistro.
198 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 Phone: (760) 322-6300
Luis started his career back in 1990 in the Coachella Valley area. Working in the restaurant business has always been natural for Mr. Vega. After graduating from the University of Mexico he moved to Palm Springs and learned fine Italian cuisine at Bruzzi Italian Restaurant. Moving to St James Restaurant for the next 10 years, he developed his love for Indian cuisine. From there he moved to Johannes Cosmopolitan Cuisine and dedicated himself to perfecting his skills under award winning and Winner of one of the Best Chefs in America, Chef Owner Johannes Bacher for the next 13 years.
At Zin, with his love of the art of cooking he is bringing his own personal style of American Fusion Cuisine.
If you haven’t eaten at any of the above-mentioned establishments, you owe it to yourself to do so. Believe me you won’t regret it. In fact you might find yourself becoming a regular at many of them or even all.