Warren Cordoba’s American and Costa Rican heritage gives him a unique cross cultural advantage as executive chef at Citron at The Viceroy in Palm Springs.
His interpretation of Latin-American cuisine comes across with a modern American accent.
Combining contemporary cooking techniques – such as sous vide (vacuumed packed in hot water) – with traditional kitchen methods, Cordoba’s innate artistry brings each ingredient into play in his dishes at Citron at The Viceroy.
We recently had another glimpse at this culinary artist-at-work at the recent 123 Organic Tequila dinner pairing when Cordoba created five-courses to introduce the premium small batch tequila available only at The Viceroy. The event was part of the hotel’s So Very Palm Springs dinner series.
Before setting out to create courses to highlight each of the tequilas – Blanco (uno), Reposado (dos) and Anejo (tres) — Cordoba did a tasting of each and consulted with David Ravandi, founder of 123 Organic Tequila (see photo at left, Cordoba is on the right).
“I paired seasonal and regional delicacies like squash blossom, grilled nopales and Pacific coast lobster,” said Cordoba. “And I did my own modern take on carne asada grilled with cippolini onion in chipotle béarnaise.”
If Cordoba’s childhood gave him the taste for farm fresh ingredients – he spent much of his childhood on his grandfather’s farm in the heart of coffee country, San Luis St. Domingo Heredia, Costa Rica — his cooking talent gave him the taste for experimenting with flavor, color and texture.
He attended the New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, Vt., and honed his skills at The Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla. Prior to The Viceroy, Cordoba was executive chef at L’Auberge del Mar Resort in San Diego.
“I don’t like to define my cuisine because that puts limits on it,” he said.
Cordoba’s Fall Farmers Market Greens incorporated The Viceroy’s own estate grown grapefruit marmalade with Cypress Grove goat cheese, squash blossom fritters, and prickly pear vinaigrette, and served with a signature cocktail blending 123 Tequila and citrus juices.
The 123 Organic Blanco (uno) taste profile offers “clean, intense aromas of fresh agave with lemon peel, black pepper and minerals.” For tasting this un-aged tequila, Cordoba pan-fried citrus-marinated day boat scallops (see photo below) and served them with escabeche vegetables and avocado mosaic.
The Reposado (dos) is aged six months in oak, which imparts a light caramel color and oaky hints that turn to salted caramel, crème brulee and toffee undertones.
Here’s where Cordoba’s instincts and knowledge began to soar. He prepared Pacific Lobster with jicama julienne and grilled nopales bathed in a tomatillo beurre blanc.
Next, his rich, buttery carne asada with Yukon gold potatoes, grilled cippoline onion in chipotle Béarnaise, was paired with the Anejo (tres) tequila.
Aged 18 months in oak, this tequila was an even richer version with deeper tannin and rich caramel color. Its caramel and chocolate undertones also leant the anejo to dessert, a spiced chocolate pot de crème served with an airy cinnamon churros.
While these dishes are served occasionally as specials at Citron, many of the restaurant’s regular menu items may be paired with the versatile 123 Organic Tequilas.
The next So Very Palm Springs dinner is Dec. 5 with Beluga Vodka’s Ramona Gaddis to launch the holiday season with a vodka and caviar tasting and four-course dinner.
Citron at The Viceroy, 415 S. Belardo Road, Palm Springs. Hours: breakfast 8-11 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., dinner 6-10 p.m., (760) 320-4117.