Vote for Your Favorite Chef in Palm Springs, Presented By Wells Fargo
Written By: Alana Aronson Chef in Palm Springs
Executive Chef Chuck Courtney: Eight4Nine Restaurant
Executive Chef Chuck Courtney brings his impressive culinary experience from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, as well as Northern and Southern California to EIGHT4NINE. During his successful career he has received media coverage in numerous high profile publications. His cuisine incorporates the diversity of West Coast culinary influences, while utilizing the freshest specialty produce, seafood and meats available. All dishes are prepared from scratch, reflecting each dish’s specific ethnic origins with Chef’s individual creative flair.
Head Chef Mario Curci: Jake’s Palm Springs
“Our menu selections are inspired by fresh and simple ingredients with our own unique interpretation of popular comfort foods. We want guests to leave content and happy.”
Chef Mario graduated from the Santa Barbara Culinary School. He served as the sous chef of Kalanis in Tahoe, specializing in Hawaiian Asian Fusion cuisine. He was also chef de cuisine of Montbleau Resort and Casino in Tahoe. Mario joined Jake’s in 2009.
Chef Filiberto Velasquez Sr.: Las Casuelas Terraza
“Always keep moving forward, siempre moviendo adelante.” Chef Fili is known for his positivity and creativity in the back of house. Originally from Via Corona in Jalisco, Mexico, he began working in 1986 as a dishwasher, moving to prep, food line and now chef—always moving himself and us forward. Although he loves being a part of the planning, motivating, preparing and cooking, you will regularly see him out on the floor touching tables to see the fruits of his labor.
Executive Chef Jean Paul Lair: Le Vallauris
Jean Paul Lair was born in the Spa City of Vichy in France in 1959. He graduated from the Professional Restaurant School and then spent some years as apprentice in several hotels and restaurants. Jean Paul met Marlene—his better half—in France, a native of the Reunion Islands.
Jean Paul migrated to the United States and he worked in Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles. In 1986 he joined Le Vallauris as Sous-Chef and was promoted to Executive Chef when Le St. Germain was opened and the Chef was transferred. Jean Paul has led Le Vallauris from the traditional era of the 70s and 80s, from the traditional French Cuisine to the lighter Mediterranean specialties. He has also recognized the expectation of the “Foodies” and he has geared his cuisine squarely in that direction. Chef Jean Paul does extensive research on the cuisine he plans to prepare and he has also incorporated the need to accommodate different demands for vegetarian, vegan and organic food. It only takes reading the numerous reviews in professional surveys to appreciate the culinary success of Chef Jean Paul Lair.
Executive Chef and Co-Owner Mark Van Laanen: TRIO
Cooking has always been Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Mark Van Laanen’s passion for over 30 years. He started cooking when I was a child and has seen much success since!
Chef Gabriel R. Woo: Sparrows Lodge
Chef Gabriel R. Woo is a local of Palm Springs and describes his style as simple and rustic. His passion is to express love, care and creativity into his cooking. Using local, seasonal, quality ingredients is an integral part of the success The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge is having. Bringing people together with a beautiful and delicious dining experience is the overall goal of Chef Woo.
Chef and Owner Tai Spendley: Rooster and the Pig
Tai Spendley, chef and owner of Palm Springs’ acclaimed Vietnamese-American restaurant, Rooster and the Pig, has spent more than two decades in the culinary world, previously serving as food and beverage director at several hotels and resorts around the Coachella Valley, including the Ace Hotel and Swim Club. After a stint in Chicago as general manager of the popular Lula Café, Spendley returned to Palm Springs to open his own restaurant in 2015. At Rooster and the Pig, he gives traditional Vietnamese fare his own spin, infusing his mother’s recipes with an American style and incorporating new ingredients rarely found in Vietnamese cooking. In less than two years, Rooster and the Pig has become one of Palm Springs’ most talked-about eateries and has garnered national media attention.
Owner and Executive Chef Andrew Copley: Copley’s on Palm Canyon
Andrew Copley has 20 years of culinary experience in five star establishments from England to Australia, Hawaii and now Californian. Since opening in 2004 the restaurant has become a locals’ favorite and received national recognition from Bon Appetit, The New York Times, USA Today—just to name a few—making it a must eat for locals and visitors to the valley.
Executive Chef Herve Glin:, Mister Parker’s and Norma’s, The Parker Palm Springs
Things for which Brittany, France, is famous: cider and artisanal beers; certain pastries, including sweet crepes and salty galettes; Herve Glin. Many global fans of fine food are familiar with the first two Breton culinary calling cards, but residents of the Coachella Valley are among the privileged to know the third. Glin, executive chef of the Parker Palm Springs, is a native of Brittany, and as a youth trained there as a baker. But he wanted to explore the wider world of food, so he apprenticed as a cook in Paris before sailing across the pond to make his home in Montreal and work for the Four Seasons and Hilton hotel chains. By 2007, Glin was executive chef of the prestigious Cork Tree restaurant in Palm Desert, and in 2013, joined the Parker with that title and the responsibility of overseeing not only the tiny inn’s two restaurants, but pretty much any comestible a guest is likely to swallow. Glin is co-founder of the Pendleton Foundation, which offers financial assistance to Coachella Valley families confronting cancer diagnoses. Glin created a Chef’s Auction event to raise funds for treatment people struggle to afford.
Executive Chef Moe Tello: Brickworks Bistro
With nearly three decades of experience, Moe Tello is one of the premier chefs in the Palm Springs area. Her culinary skills, sense of taste and presentation were refined at the acclaimed LG’s Steakhouse, where she served as Executive Chef for all LG’s locations for over 20 years. She now plies her skills at the new Brickworks Bistro in downtown Palm Springs (formerly Matchbox). Her forté is blending tastes and colors to excite the palate, blending traditional American cookery with Italian, Mexican, Asian and new pizza creations. Brickworks Bistro is open for dinner every night, and offers a lively happy hour every afternoon.
Chef Alfredo Carrion: FARM
Alfredo Carrion is a young chef on the move. After starting his career as a dishwasher at 16 at Spencer’s, he knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in the kitchen. His two older brothers, Umberto and Gustavo, both chefs in the Valley, inspired, pushed, and taught Alfredo much, and it was their belief in him that he could have his own kitchen by 21 that drove him to the success he’s found so early in life. At the age of 19, Alfredo started working at FARM as a prep cook, and not long after starting, had the opportunity to take over the kitchen. Since then, not only has he created breakfast and lunch items that have garnered massive critic and diner acclaim, but he has prepared a fine-dining dinner menu which has received immediate and overwhelming praise in Palm Springs. As his kitchen’s unofficial motto, “never stop moving” indicates, Chef Alfredo believes deeply in learning, growing, and constantly experimenting. His creations are bold, flavorful, uniquely his own, and absolutely a must-try when you are in town.
Executive Chef Nick Tall: Purple Palm Restaurant at Colony Palms Hotel
Originally from Miami, Nick got his first Executive Chef position 12 years ago at the age of 23. He held that position for three years, but felt like something was missing in his life. Wanting to travel the world, he joined the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and helped them open a new hotel in Macau. Nick was there for about two years, then moved to Hong Kong for three years. While in Hong Kong, he was the Sous Chef of the two Michelin Star restaurant Amber, at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Nick’s first year at Amber they were ranked #48 on the SP Top 50 Restaurants in the World. His second year they were #36 and the third year, they reached the #24 spot. Nick and his wife had a baby while living in Hong Kong and wanted her to grow up near family. They relocated to Palm Springs in January of this year. Chef Tall was brought on as Executive Chef of the Colony Palms Hotel and Purple Palm Restaurant for their renovation and relaunch. The concept he’s developed for the restaurant is “innovative, yet simple” and a “cuisine without borders”, that’s influenced by where he is from (Latin/Caribbean), where he has been (Asia) and most of all where he currently resides (SoCal/desert).
Chef Arturo Casillas: Lulu California Bistro
Chef Arturo Casillas has been delighting the palates of local residents and visitors to Palm Springs at the wildly-popular Lulu California Bistro since it opened on Palm Canyon Drive just five years ago. He began his career with Lulu owners Jerry and Barbara Keller at their first restaurant, Acqua Pazza in Rancho Mirage, 12 years ago under the direction of Chef Francisco de la Torre, and honed his skills as the restaurant became one of the Coachella Valley’s best loved dining spots. When the opportunity came to become executive chef at Lulu, he eagerly accepted and the rest is history as Lulu has served more than 2.5 million guests in its five short years and is an annual award winner for its menus, included best brunch in California by Trippist.com, “Best of” awards by local travel and lifestyle publications and a top Palm Springs restaurant on Trip Advisor, Open Table, and many other guest-ranked food and hospitality websites. In his spare time Chef Arturo enjoys playing soccer and spending time with his family. His favorite dish at Lulu? BBQ Ribs. Chef is inspired every day by seeing how Lulu is a part of the good life in Palm Springs- a place to gather with friends and family, “where there’s always a party” and of course, with great food.
Proprietor and Head Chef Tara Lazar: Birba, Cheeky’s, Mr. Lyons, Seymour’s and Alcazar Hotel
Cheeky’s is owned by local chef, restaurateur and hotelier Tara Lazar. F10 Creative is dedicated to Small Farm Food. We use responsibly sourced meats and local produce whenever possible. You can feel the freshness of our dishes, and you’ll come back with a craving for it.
Chef Carmen Rodriguez: Reservoir in ARRIVE Palm Springs
Chef Carmen Rodriguez cooks food with heart and soul—and incredible flavor! Growing up in Chicago, working as a migrant worker as a child, and serving in the military as a young man, he built upon his Cuban-Mexican roots to create a complex global perspective on food. That outlook now finds its most vibrant expression at Reservoir in ARRIVE Palm Springs. Says Chef Rodriguez, “I’m know for global Latin fusion, but more than cuisine I fuse cultures together. I look for a commonality in the culture and the people behind a dish. There are stories to each one!” Signature dishes like achiote chicken ramen and cashew-crusted sea bass have become local favorites since he joined Reservoir in June 2015—not to mention the Cap’n Crunch french toast at brunch. When he’s not in the kitchen, Chef Rodriguez is actively engaged in giving back to the community, working with the WOW (Worth Our Weight) culinary mentorship program in Santa Rosa, among other charities.
Executive Chef Jennifer Town: Purple Room Supper Club
Award winning Executive Chef Jennifer Town brings a unique and highly appealing focus to the culinary experience at Purple Room Supper Club. “I wanted to bring in retro supper club favorites, but with a twist, ” she says. “We’ve created a delicious, varied menu that features Purple Room favorites as well as a delicious bar menu for happy hour and late nights.”
Town brings a Mediterranean influence to the menu, a cuisine she was immersed in as a child first living with her parents in Casale Monferrato, Italy, a tiny village just across the border from Switzerland. She recalled the village “from stories and memories, ” later to rediscover it as a young teenager when she visited family friends. The experience later inspired Town to attend New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, where she earned an AOS in culinary arts. She returned to Casale Monferrato as an intern at Ristorante La Torre, where she studied under Chef Patrizia Grossi, head chef for the Italian Winter Sports Olympic team. Town learned the secrets of making fresh pastas, risotto and regional delicacies in a fine dining room in Northern Italy.
Executive Chef and Co-Owner Michael Beckman: Workshop Kitchen + Bar
A SoCal native, Michael Beckman has not only witnessed the drastic evolution of dining in Southern California, he has been instrumental in its course, joining rank with his Workshop Kitchen + Bar. Beckman’s love of the table began as a student at the University of San Francisco, where the city long revered for its culinary scene made a marking impression on him at a young age. Michael spent three years in fairly rigorous front-of-the-house training programs at Kuleto’s and Il Fornaio, where he’d take notes from lineup and conversations with chefs and reproduce the dishes at home. His affinity for wine and of European regional cooking followed suit.