SO.PA restaurant

Sorta Southern Style

Executive Chef Chris Anderson cooks up a distinctive American cuisine at SO.PA Restaurant.

Lori Cohen-Sanford Restaurants

SO.PA restaurant
Alaskan King Crab with ramen noodles, chanterelle mushrooms, currant tomatoes, corn, golden wheat, sea bean, and cucumber blooms.

Growing up in North Carolina, Chris Anderson didn’t know what a microwave was.

It wasn’t that he lived in some back-country setting, but the kitchen assistant most of us take for granted just wasn’t part of his family’s idea of cooking.

“I was born with cooking,” he says. “It is the Southern way of life. I grew up with whole pigs, gardens, pickling, and canning. Everything was freshly prepared.”

Anderson took over the kitchen at SO.PA at the L’Horizon Palm Springs earlier this year, bringing a five-star resume to match the luxury resort and spa owned by renowned designer Steve Hermann. The hotel has plans to add 25 rooms and a new pool this fall.

Anderson began cooking away from home at 16, but encountered a fork in his road when he began thinking of the job as a career. “I was about to have my first kid and I began thinking, ‘What will I do as a career?’”

He entered culinary school (he was 23), and went to France for a year. “Working in Michelin-starred restaurants in France really opened my eyes,” Anderson says, “because they took low-country cooking and elevated it with high quality ingredients and techniques.”

Anderson joined SO.PA with several culinary team members who moved with him from Chicago’s Moto Restaurant. During his tenure there, the restaurant earned a second Michelin star.


SO.PA Executive Chef Chris Anderson.

VIDEO: Featuring So.PA Executive Chef Chris Anderson. Stabilizing butter to keep it from separating using classic techniques results in a modern presentation of butter-poached lobster tail and fresh ravioli.


Anderson’s most recent culinary work has been tied to Molecular gastronomy, a scientific approach to meal-making, and modern, new-age techniques he learned working under Executive Chef Grant Achatz at the famed Alinea Restaurant, a three-star Michelin establishment also in Chicago.

At SO.PA, Anderson says he wants to “be creative and execute my vision. To take techniques I have learned, modern and classic European, and emphasize American culture, flavors, and ingredients.”


Lobster tail and homemade ravioli poached in butter are rich elements that benefit from a tart pop of flavor from Citrus Begonia flower petals and briny bite from Osetra Caviar.

He is transplanting his southern roots into the fertile soil of our local desert. Anderson explains that he wants to step away from European ingredients and “bring the heart and soul of Southern-American cuisine,” using buttermilk instead of cream and consider techniques that American palates understand, like deep-frying versus poaching.

Southern Surf & Turf prepares Chef Chris Anderson’s Southern-influenced ingredients with modern techniques. Pork loin with shrimp mousse roulade, Newsom’s Country Ham, fried mustard seeds, buttermilk blinis, corn shoots, and citrus coriander blooms.

What can diners at SO.PA look forward to on the fall menu? According to Anderson, “seasonal ingredients, local ingredients, more hearty things like deer, things that are hunted.” He also believes in garnishing, “for beauty and for duty,” using edible elements that enhance the flavor of each dish, such as pea blossoms and tendrils, fava blooms, and coriander blooms.

“Fine dining is taking good food and showing off, ‘how good can I be?’ It is a decision not to copy a previous chef and make it your own,” Anderson says.

SO.PA Restaurant
1050 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs