Where Chefs Roam

What three local chefs have to say about where they dine out.



Photography by Susan Werner

Like everyone else, chefs need a break from the kitchen. Here’s where three local chefs dine out and what they have to say about the cuisine scene.



Chef Andrew Manion Copley

Copley’s on Palm Canyon, Palm Springs
pictured right

How often to do you eat out and where do you go?

I generally eat dinner out about twice a month — in the summer, of course, more often. I also enjoy luncheons out.

Basically, my favorites have stayed the same: I like Zin American Bistro in Palm Springs, Le Vallauris [in Palm Springs] for a special-occasion meal, and, for a great steak, The Falls [in Palm Springs]. I especially like the view at The Falls onto Palm Canyon [Drive].

Another restaurant we recently found is Fusion One 11 in Palm Desert. We really enjoyed the atmosphere. [We] ... tried an assortment of six or seven of the dishes. I like what the chef is doing; very high quality, unusual.

What do you look for on a menu, and do you try the chef’s specials?

It depends on what mood I’m in. Generally, I’m looking for the special dishes where the chef is attempting to pull off something that is difficult. I like to see how it works. We always have to try new things.

If it’s a restaurant that I frequent, I take interest in the specials; I don’t discard them at all. I prefer two to three specials at a nice restaurant. However, if the server goes on and on with 15 specials and I’ve already forgotten the first three, I tend to think the chef’s got too much time on his hands.

What do you ask your server?

I generally don’t give them the third degree or take them to task about their knowledge of the menu. If they tell me something about the menu, I listen to what they have to say and try to draw out their personality. ... I try to create an atmosphere of fun, because I think you get great service if the waiter is relaxed and at ease with you.

I never complain about the food — under any circumstances. ... I know how hard it is to create a dish.

What specifically do you like about Zin, and what’s your favorite dish?

Zin is really high-quality comfort food. One of my favorites that [Chef/Owner] Nicolas [Klontz] makes is his Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms. I also like his ahi dish. Having lived in Hawaii for so long, I always enjoy fresh ahi. Zin American Bistro's STUFFED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS Recipe

What’s the best seat in the house?

I like to people-watch, so I like a window seat. [Zin] has a great location in the middle of Palm Canyon [Drive] where you can enjoy the crowd while you dine. Another great hot spot for people-watching is on the ledge at The Falls [Prime Steakhouse, also on Palm Canyon Drive].
   
Have you borrowed any ideas from those restaurants?

Well, when you create a new menu, you have to start from somewhere. Usually when I go away for two or three days, we go to San Francisco. I have some favorite restaurants and chefs there.

Actually, this year, we were inspired by our trip to New Zealand. The food quality is incredible. [Copley’s now offers] New Zealand salmon and venison and a cabbage dish that incorporates tropical fruit and Muscovy duck with caramelized pineapple. Cabbage goes well with game meat. It’s a very wintry dish. We visited there in winter, so this is a winter concept.

Chef Bernard Dervieux
Cuistot, Palm Desert
pictured below


How often do you dine out and where do you usually go?

Well, with three small children, we really don’t often go out to eat. However, when we do go out, I enjoy Chez Pierre [in Palm Desert] because [the chef] does things differently. I enjoy his kidney dish made like in France. I know not everyone likes kidney, but Pierre’s food brings me back to France. Chez Pierre is a place we can bring the kids, too. We normally cook at home. My wife is a good cook — better than me! Chez Pierre's VEAL KIDNEY SAUTE IN MUSTARD SAUCE Recipe

What do you look for on a menu, and do you try the chef’s specials?

We travel two months out of the year. When we travel to San Francisco or New York, for example, we eat at nice restaurants. I look for a menu that is well balanced with meat, fish, fowl, pasta. I look at the appetizers to see that the selection includes seafood and soups that are appealing and seasonal. What I order depends on what I feel like eating that day, of course.

If I feel like having beef, and there are two beef items, one on the menu and one special, I will try the special. Or if I want fish, I would try the fish special. It depends on what I want to eat, but I pay attention to the chef’s specials.

What do you ask your server?

Well, I’m sure that the chef who wrote the menu knows more than the server, so I ask about the choice of items and how it’s undertaken. I try to understand what the chef is trying to do.

What specifically do you like about Chez Pierre, and what’s your favorite dish?

Pierre [Pelich] is a friend and makes food like in France; he does specialty dishes that others don’t do. I like the French bistro preparation. I like his specials and try to order something different. But I especially enjoy the kidney and his fish dishes.

What’s the best seat in the house?

I’m not picky about where I sit, but we often sit on the patio.

Have you borrowed any ideas from the restaurant?

Not, not from here. But when we go to a nice restaurant in San Francisco or New York, I find it can fire my creativity; it comes back alive. It is a natural excitement, for example, to try something different and say, “Oh, yes, do it that way!” I bring back new ideas to Cuistot, new ways to prepare something, from San Francisco, New York, or France.

Chef Brett Maddock
Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant, La Quinta

pictured below

How often do you dine out and where do you usually go?

I eat out about once a week, on my day off. Japanese food is my favorite, and I often go to Okura [Robata Grill & Sushi Bar in La Quinta] for dinner.

What do you look for on a menu, and do you try the chef’s specials?

I look for variety, seasonal food. I look to see if the menu changes by season. I look at prices, what cuts of meats they use, how they prepare them, and whether their prices are consistent with the type of food they’re serving. If they serve seafood, I look to see if they are serving fish or seafood that is in season — the same with fruits and vegetables. I like to see braised meats that are slowed cooked in the winter, for example.

I absolutely try the chef’s specials. Chefs like to get creative; doing the same menu gets boring after a week or two. For example, at Okura, the sockeye salmon is only available a few weeks out of the year, so I will have that.
   
What do you ask your server?

I’m a repeat client. The chef knows what I like, and I don’t really have to ask. But I usually ask what the freshest fish is that day.

What specifically do you like about Okura, and what’s your favorite dish?

I like the owners Jay Lee and Edward Shin. Okura is a modern, upscale restaurant like you would find in L.A. It has a cutting-edge atmosphere. I like the presentation, how the sushi or fish is cut and served on interesting plates. The chefs give a lot of thought to presentation, to detail. I’m very impressed with how they take a simple thing, like radishes, and arrange them on the plate.

I usually start with hamachi, then a spicy ahi tuna roll, and go on to salmon. I especially like the hamachi carpaccio sushi; it’s thin-sliced, pounded hamachi. Okura Robata Gill & Sushi Bar's HAMACHI CARPACCIO Recipe

What’s the best seat in the house?

I sit at the sushi bar or at the bar, where there is a TV, if I want to watch sports.

Have you borrowed any ideas from the restaurant?

I certainly use Japanese citrus on my plates and often put miso soup on the menu. On my specials, such as Pacific seafood, I’ll use Japanese influences. When I worked at The Ritz-Carlton in Hawaii, I acquired many Japanese touches for seafood preparation and
presentation.

Palm Springs Life

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