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Features & Profiles

25 Sep 2017
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When I heard that the San Francisco-based PlumpJack Group had purchased the legendary Ingleside Inn and its Melvyn’s restaurant following the death last year of longtime owner Mel Haber, my feelings were decidedly mixed. On one hand, Melvyn’s is an institution. The old-school recipes, the tableside prep, the … uh, past-normal-retirement-age maître d’s—these things make Melvyn’s a Palm Springs classic, unlike any other restaurant in the valley. On the other hand … Melvyn’s, located at 200 W. Ramon Road, has a lot of room to improve. Both the food and service in recent years have been wildly inconsistent, and it seemed management was doing little to reach new customers. Turns out that Melvyn’s new executive chef, Jennifer Town, shares a lot of the same opinions. Town, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, has an impressive resume, to say the least. She was the head chef for the Italian…
15 Aug 2017
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Some of the valley’s best barbecue is being served at … the Red Barn in Palm Desert? Yep, the Red Barn in Palm Desert. The only food I’d remembered there was a stale bag of chips that I once bought from a vending machine on the outdoor patio—until I found myself there one night after Stagecoach in late April. I was hungry, and I heard there was barbecue for sale. After Reggie Martinez, the owner of the California Barbecue Company, gave me my food, the flavors that hit my taste buds were out of this world: The barbecue was sweet, yet spicy, and smoked to perfection. I recently had the chance to enjoy more of Martinez’s cooking while we chatted at the Red Barn: He typically runs out of his macaroni and cheese rather quickly, but I was able to try some—and it was unlike any macaroni and cheese I’ve…
30 Dec 2016
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When Trio Restaurant’s Sherman Chan walked into the Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms Hotel to compete in the first Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Championship on Nov. 17, she brought with her a secret weapon: an extensive culinary pedigree, including stints in the kitchens of multiple Michelin-star restaurants. “I really appreciate cocktails’ flavor aspect,” she said. “It’s not just about booze; it’s about aromatics, everything.” Chan, 29, was born in Hong Kong, and has lived most of her life in big cities—Toronto, New York and the like. She’s always been intrigued by food, and was all set to study at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she said. However, before she left, she was challenged by her mother to work in a kitchen for a month to make sure she enjoyed it. “I was working with an old-school chef, and he said that I didn’t need culinary school;…
12 Jan 2015
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At 6 foot 5 inches tall, chef Tom Hogan stands above the crowd. His stature doesn’t just involve his height. He stands out because he’s cooked for five presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. That’s quite a resume for a chef who calls the desert home, and has done so off and on since 2005. Chef Tom—that’s how he’s known in the restaurant business—has been cooking for 39 years now. He started learning the trade as a kid in his aunt’s hotel in Atlantic City, right on the Boardwalk. “I’d go down there to vacation with my parents, but I’d rather stay in the hotel’s kitchen with chefs, fascinated with cooking,” Hogan said. From then on, Hogan, 53, followed his gastronomical passion all over the United States. “My first job was in my birthplace, Holyoke, Mass., at The Log Cabin, one of the…

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