Jimmy Schmidt’s resume looks something like this:
Food scientist and innovator, celebrated chef, restaurateur, author, entrepreneur and founder of the renowned Chefs Collaborative.
He continues to drive the sustainable food movement forward across the nation.
The desert is fortunate to have the legendary Schmidt every other week during season as executive chef at Morgan’s in the Desert, La Quinta Resort & Club. Schmidt and the talented Chef de Cuisine Brian Recor are busy creating peak harvest food festivals year-round and wine dinners through May that bring the farm-to-table experience to ever increasing heights.
These days, Schmidt is very big on American Wagyu beef, a Japanese breed of cattle known for its superior taste and texture that is humanely raised. He is also a proponent of sustainably and organically produced wines.
He brings two of his trusted resources for American Wagyu beef and award winning sustainable wines to a celebratory dinner, $95 per person, at Morgan’s on Feb. 28: Joseph Decuis American Wagyu beef, founded by Pete, Alice, and Tim Eshelman in Roanoke, Ind.; and Neyers Vineyards, founded by Bruce and Barbara Neyers, in the heart of Napa Valley. The Eshelmans and Neyers will be on hand for the event.
“These are full blood Wagyu, a Japanese breed, raised in a happy and humane environment,” says Schmidt. “The meat (pictured at right) has great marbling, flavor and texture because of a vegetarian-based diet.”
Schmidt says that traditional American beef cuts use only 21 percent prime steak and 65 percent end up as ground beef.
“But with Wagyu, the lesser cuts – shoulder, leg, neck — are much more individually made, cuts that reveal the muscle,” he says. “The Denver cut, for example, near the tenderloin, is a marbled, beautiful steak. With 34 different cuts, it’s affordable and better for the customer to have interesting cuts.”
Healthy Soil, Healthy Grapes
The Neyers found that a sustainable system of infused nitrogen into the soil, biomass, and beneficial insects makes healthy soil and good health is passed to the grapes. Like a healthy human immune system, the vines are able to withstand bacteria, fungus, mildew, pests and extreme weather. Plus allowing wild native yeast during the wine’s fermentation, part of an all-organic approach, creates an even more complex wine.
When he's not at Morgan’s, Schmidt devotes time to his latest project, the FoodShed Exchange, an online frame work of farmers, fisherman, foragers and ranchers connected to specialty food purveyors and chefs who source and use their products.
Using modern technology, farmers can post instantly from an iPad when their food is at peak harvest, send the information to FoodShed Exchange where purveyors and chefs can immediately buy the freshest possible product. FoodShed Exchange is a virtual portal into a real time marketplace that promises to streamline the harvest, purchase and delivery between farmer and chef.
Morgan’s in the Desert’s Food and Wine Festivals continue all year long and feature foods at their peak season. Next is the Smoked Salmon Festival, March 17-30, followed by the Asparagus Festival, April 1-13.
Morgan’s in the Desert, La Quinta Resort & Club, 49499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta, (760) 564-7600.