Greater Palm Springs Chefs Share Their Fave Recipes

From Wilma & Frieda's classic meatloaf to The Venue Roll, find out what ingredients make these signature dishes so popular.

Site Staff Restaurants

Wilma & Frieda chef Chad Spears' signature dish is meatloaf, but not just any ordinary meatloaf.

Bring together seven of the top Greater Palm Springs chefs and you get a chance to discover why their signature dishes taste so good.

They share their recipes here, and why they are among their customers’ first choice.

Chef Chad Spears
Wilma & Frieda

2 pounds ground sirloin or Angus beef
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire
3 tubes of Ritz crackers, crushed into crumbs
1 ½ cup mirepoix
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 eggs
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 teaspoon pepper


1 small can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons spicy barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix meatloaf ingredients together, carefully folding in items to not overwork the meat. Cut mixture in half and place in loaf pan, forming a domed loaf. Repeat; this recipe makes two loaves and serves eight. Stir sauce ingredients, then pour over the top of the meatloaf. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and top is browned. Remove from heat and let rest 15 minutes before cutting.

“The meatloaf is a signature at our cafe and it’s featured in so many of our dishes, showing off its versatility,” says Spears, who’s known for making comfort food with a twist at Wilma & Frieda on El Paseo. “We prepare seared meatloaf topped with eggs for breakfast. A meatloaf melt with cheddar. When offering dinners we serve it on a bed of mashed potatoes topped with a cheddar Mornay. … We like to take familiar foods and bring them to a new level.”

Throwing a party? Serve one of Wilma & Frieda’s catering favorites: Meatloaf Bites. Cut the meatloaf into bite-size squares, pipe them with mashed potatoes, and top them off with a drizzle of cheddar Mornay.

Chef Chad Spears

Fried Goat cheese Medallions

Chef Julian Gonzalez-Cruz
Villa Portofino Clubhouse

Laura Chenel goat cheese
Panko breadcrumbs
Egg wash
All-purpose flour

Make small 1-ounce cakes with the goat cheese and place on a sheet pan in the freezer for an hour. Dust goat cheese with flour, dip in the egg wash, and coat with breadcrumbs. Return the medallions to the freezer until needed. Fry with oil and a bit of butter. Cool on a paper towel and serve.

For this dish, Gonzalez-Cruz served the medallions atop a smoky salad with nasturtium leaves, baby heirloom tomatoes, and yogurt honey inverse ravioli.

“I’ve been visiting Engin’s restaurant for a while now, and sometimes we get together to play around with food before he opens service,” he says. “He likes to innovate his sushi and I wanted to share one of my favorite plates, which has a modern approach to old classics. I decided to prepare this one because I knew it would make a good impression with the rest of the gang, to welcome winter after a scorching summer.”


Chef Julian Gonzalez-Cruz
Villa Portofino Clubhouse

3 ½ ounces plain Greek yogurt
2 .7 ounces heavy cream
1 ounce elderflower honey

Alginate Bath
18 ounces water
9 grams sodium alginate

Mix water and sodium alginate in a blender and set aside; preferably prepare this the day before. In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, heavy cream, and honey. Use a “flexible half-sphere mold” and fill with the yogurt mixture; place in freezer until solid. Pop the yogurt pieces out of the mold and into the alginate bath, ensuring the pieces do not touch. Soak for 10 minutes, then use a perforated spoon to remove the yogurt spheres. Rinse with clean water and set aside until you are ready to plate.

“I’ve always enjoyed learning new techniques,” Gonzalez-Cruz says. “Molecular cuisine usually requires someone to give you a broad knowledge of the so-called ‘white pantry’; however I did not get a chance to work with anyone who would mentor me on it. I took it upon myself to learn this interesting, fun cuisine. It became my personal challenge.”

The Venue Roll
Chef Engin Onural

The Venue Sushi Bar

Spicy tuna
Spicy aioli
Teriyaki sauce
Tobiko caviar
Sushi rice
& Sake Lounge

Chef Engin Onural

Roll spicy tuna, cucumber, and yamagobo inside a seaweed wrap and seasoned sushi rice. Top with spicy aioli. Rub salmon with teriyaki sauce and sear with a blowtorch. Layer salmon across the roll and garnish with microgreens and a generous helping of tobiko caviar.

Though busting out a blowtorch to achieve the perfect golden sear on sliced salmon may seem unconventional to someone who expects only raw fish in a roll, Onural explains that the best sushi is served with a bit of showmanship and surprise. “That’s me,” he says. “I live and breathe out of the box.”

“After years, and making it thousands of times, I still enjoy it each time as the first. It’s my all- time favorite roll, baby.”
sauce grand veneur

Chef Francois Gaertner
Desert Willow Golf Resort

1 glass red wine
1 leek
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 white onion
2 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme
5 whole peppercorns
1 cup veal stock
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon red currant jelly
salt and pepper

Dice leek, carrot, celery, and onion; mix with red wine, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns. Use as an overnight marinade for your meat (pictured here with venison fillets). After marinating, separate the liquid from the vegetables. In one pan, reduce the red wine mix to a syrup. In another, sauté the vegetables. Pour the syrupy wine mix and veal stock in with the vegetables; slow boil for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream. Pour all of this into a blender; blend until smooth. Stir in red currant jelly and add salt and pepper to taste.

For Gaertner, a good, gamey meal is like a visit to his childhood home. “The harvest and hunting season was really, really important there,” he says of Alsace, France, where he recalls picking fresh ingredients from the forest floor. He grew up in the kitchen at his family’s restaurant, where everything was made from scratch.

“The venison, it’s a very strong flavor,” he says, describing why the hearty meal pairs best with an equally flavorful sauce. “You have flavor with the red wine, all the vegetables. And you have a really thick sauce.” Gaertner recommends serving the dish with a heavy red wine — try a Côtes du Rhône.

Chef Francois Gaertner


Chef Alain Redelsperger
Mountain View Country Club

Four 8-ounce maple leaf duck breasts
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
Olive pomace oil or grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper

Pat dry duck breasts and remove silver skin on meat side. Cover breast with oil. Add thyme and rosemary. Marinate at least 24 hours. When you’re ready to cook, remove from oil marinade and season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sear duck breasts on a Teflon pan, skin side down, until golden brown, about five minutes. Transfer to a rack and cook in the oven for about eight minutes, until medium rare. Transfer duck to a cooling rack, skin side up, and rest for five minutes. Slice each breast into five or six pieces, and serve immediately.

red onion compote

Chef Alain Redelsperger
Mountain View Country Club

1 cup red onion, julienned
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup red wine
½ cup sherry vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons crème de cassis
salt and pepper

In a skillet, sauté red onions with olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add sugar, honey, red wine, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low, 20 minutes. Add crème de cassis and let the marmalade cook about five minutes. Adjust seasoning. Keep warm and serve immediately.

“Onion compote is something that I’ve been using over the years either on flatbread or on a piece of cheese or on a piece of game, even on poultry,” says Redelsperger, who began experimenting with the sweet and savory component many years ago in his hometown of Alsace, France. “It’s a very versatile ingredient, and I just love to use it.”

Here, the chef’s signature red onions serve as a base for Redelsperger’s roasted maple leaf duck breast.

Chef Alain Redelsperger

Babe’s Boneless Beef Short Ribs with Summer Cole Slaw

Smoke 4 pounds of boneless beef short ribs for 3 hours. Season with your favorite Memphis style spice blend before smoking. After 3 hours, place in a preheated 320 degree oven for three hours.

When done, remove from heat, let rest for 10 minutes, cut and serve on top of Summer Cole Slaw. Add BBQ sauce to your ribs.

Chef Arthur Vasquez

2 pounds green cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup mandarin orange segments
1 cup sliced Deglet Noor dates
2 bunches green onions, sliced thin
1 cup candied pecans
poppy seeds and black sesame seeds

Apple Cider Vinegar Gastriqu
8 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar

Combine vinegar and sugar in a sauce pot; bring to a light boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool in refrigerator. Mix with slaw and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Here, Vasquez pairs Babe’s boneless beef short ribs with summer slaw, a meal he says you can enjoy all year long. The gastrique dressing in the slaw balances the sweet smokiness of the short ribs. For an extra treat, the chef suggests enjoying this meal with a Michter’s Rye Old Fashioned.

Also, try the slaw on pulled pork sliders or serve alongside grilled fish tacos.

Additional Food Styling by Jeanne Kelley