These 5 Restaurateurs are Foodie Forces to be Reckoned With

Written By: Alana Aronson  Chefs in Palm Springs

Our Wells Fargo Sponsored poll, “Who is Your Favorite Chef in Palm Springs?” rounded up several of Palm Springs’ best culinary geniuses. You voted, and we asked your top five favorite chefs what inspires them, what motivates them—and of course, what dishes reign supreme in their eyes. Buckle up, you’re in for a tasty ride!

 

Chef Alfredo Carrion: FARM

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?  

Alfredo Carrion: Much of my inspiration comes from my two older brothers. They are both chefs in town, and after we all get off work, we will bring home something we are each working on to try and critique. Living with them has been great for me because it means I have constant encouragement and accountability.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Palm Springs mean to you?

AC: Oh, this means the world to me. Being my age [24] and surrounded by some of the top rated chefs in the region blew my mind. We are busy, but I had no idea just how much my food has meant to people.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

AC: If I’m not here, I’m riding my horse. She’s my real first love, ha. I’m also playing my guitar or experimenting with new dishes for our dinner service.

Q: What is your favorite dish at the restaurant?

AC: Definitely the A La Banane French Toast. It is just so tasty with the rum-caramelized bananas and mascarpone cheese!

 

Chef Filiberto Velasquez Sr.: Las Casuelas Terraza

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?

Filiberto Velasquez: From the guest; talking to them about their meal, about their experience and seeing the people enjoy the food.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Palm Springs mean to you?

FV: It is a privilege to be nominated. I am honored to be mentioned for doing the work that I love.

Q: Where can we find you when you are not at work?

FV: I can be found at home with my family, cooking for them and our friends; filling our home with good food, laughter and fun times.

Q: What is your favorite dish at the restaurant?

FV: The chicken enchiladas suizas and the next new favorite will be the new menu items coming soon!

Chef Gabriel R. Woo: Sparrows Lodge

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?

Gabriel Woo: I draw inspiration from the world around me. Nature. I work with a farm that tells me what they have available that week. From there, I either remember something that I have done or something that I have always wanted to do with an ingredient. It’s a sustainable form of inspiration. As far as plating goes, I like natural looking beauty, “controlled chaos” I call it.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Palm Springs mean to you?

GW: Being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Palm Springs means that I am on the right path. I love Palm Springs and have always wanted amazing food to be part of the culture here.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

GW: I love to spend as much time as possible with my baby daughter. I also like to exercise, practice yoga, and read books. I also find myself cooking for friends or family when I am not at work!

Q: What is your favorite dish at the restaurant?

GW: I don’t necessarily have a favorite dish at the restaurant since my dinner menu is different every service. If I had to choose between Wednesday Night Roasted Chicken or Saturday Night Steak, I would have to choose Wednesday Night Roasted Chicken. The humble chicken is so reminiscent to me. We have our chicken recipe worked out to a science and get many compliments on the tenderness and flavor of our roasted chicken.

 

Chef Arturo Casillas: Lulu California Bistro

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?  

Arturo Casillas: The inspiration for my cooking comes to me from many places, but especially from the produce that is grown by local farmers who work so hard here in the fields. We are fortunate to have so many amazing resources for local lettuce, corn, peppers, grapes and even dates! And I enjoy cooking with exotic and new ingredients which- to me- I see as a challenge, and I love it.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Palm Springs mean to you?

AC: I’m very humbled to have been selected by your readers as one of the top 5 chefs of Palm Springs and it’s a huge honor. There are some incredible restaurants and chefs here in Palm Springs and I know so many of them, that it is truly an honor for me to be recognized among them.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

AC: I enjoy playing soccer and off road driving in our beautiful desert.

Q: What is your favorite dish at the restaurant?

AC: There are so many great dishes on our menus at Lulu, but if I had to pick one, I’d have to say that for breakfast it’s California benedict; for lunch, ahi tostadas; and for dinner a grilled rack of lamb.

 

Executive Chef Chuck Courtney: Eight4Nine Restaurant

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?  

Chuck Courtney: From a lifetime of enjoying food; also from the internet – usually a visual and a basic description that piques my interest, then I go from there and elaborate to create something that I would like to eat and share with our guests.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Palm Springs mean to you?

CC: To have been included with such great chefs feels like a validation of 20-plus years of hard work and learning. The fact that it comes from our guests and the restaurant dining public feels great.

Q: Where can we find you when you aren’t at work?

CC: Walking my dog! LOL.

Q: What is your favorite dish at the restaurant?

CC: That is like choosing a favorite child—and it changes every day depending on what I am in the mood for. Today it is our Sourdough-Crusted Chilean Sea Bass, …simple, fresh Sea Bass, delicious.

5 of Your Favorite Chefs in Palm Springs