La Quinta Resort is Blown Away By JBF Rising Star Semi-Finalist Chef Ruiz in Taste of Waldorf Astoria

La Quinta Resort is Blown Away By JBF Rising Star Semi-Finalist Chef Ruiz in Taste of Waldorf Astoria

The James Beard Foundation and The Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts have been doing things a little differently this year with a new partnership for their global Taste of Waldorf Astoria program. By matching five JBF Rising Star semi-finalist chefs with some super talented Michelin-starred Waldorf chefs, this program is hoping to find their next iconic culinary dish.

The series of events kicked off on October 18 when Chris Kajioka went to Waldorf Astoria Berlin to cook alongside Master Chef Pierre Gagnaire. At the very same time, David Posey was at Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts to work with Master Chef Heinz Beck. November 17 brought Cara Stadler to Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh to share a kitchen with The Galvin Brothers, and the following day Eduardo Ruiz arrived at La Quinta Resort & Club to collaborate with Master Chef Jimmy Schmidt. Finally, November 30 took Marjorie Meek Bradley to Waldorf Astoria Shanghai to learn from Master Chef Jan Van Dyke.

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of James Beard Foundation

We have no doubt that all five collaborations resulted in some amazing meals, but considering we experienced the La Quinta event first-hand and know just how well Los Angeles-based chef Eduardo Ruiz partnered with three-time James Beard Award-winner Jimmy Schmidt (who oversees La Quinta's Morgan's in the Desert), we can't help but to favor them. Ruiz, who owns Corazon y Miel and Picnik, was recently named one of Zagat's 30 Under 30 standouts in Los Angeles. With Ruiz's Mexican flavors and Schmidt's sustainably scientific approach to cuisine, they created two dinners that simply blew everyone away. 

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

"When Jimmy and I discussed the privilege of coming up with the Waldorf Astoria's next iconic dish a lot came to mind. We both had our own thoughts about what 'iconic' means," explains Chef Ruiz. "After spending some time with Jimmy in the kitchen, farm and dining room we both saw eye to eye on what direction the dish should take. We felt that the Iconic dish needs to be approachable in all settings within all the WA restaurants, the dish must be nutritious, provide an experience through layers of flavor and reflect our bold cooking styles."

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

The first dinner was a small-scale reception that allowed guests to mingle with the chefs and chat about their vision and experiences. The meal started with a spicy Buratta y Tomate’ prepared by Chef Ruiz. Up next was Santa Barbara Spiny Lobster poached in Meyer lemon oil that was nestled in warm endive, leek and fennel threads, with roasted fennel and Meyer lemon emulsion. The starring plate was definitely the black tea cured double rib Colorado lamb chop with roasted cauliflower and beluga lentil ragout with a pinot emulsion. For desert, the chefs prepared a seriously rich nocturn dark chocolate tart with black walnut and Chile spiced crunch crust alongside a hibiscus flower sorbet.

The pretty amazing part about the entire meal was that though it tasted like we would have to work out for an entire week to burn off the calories, Chef Schmidt promised that the dishes were actually made using pretty healthy ingredients. What may have tasted rich and decadent was actually a clever ruse to point out that eating healthy doesn't mean you have to miss the good stuff. 

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of James Beard Foundation

Saturday night's dinner was a much bigger affair, with the addition of well-known James Beard winner chef Larry Forgione. Chef Ruiz kicked it off with a Baja White Shrimp Ceviche that featured Leche de Tigre', Pear, and Kumquat. Even without the addition of the shrimp, we could eat an entire meal based on those bright citrus flavors alone and we guarantee it would make anyone a fan of ceviche. 

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of James Beard Foundation

Next up was the Sea Salt Seared Maine Sea Scallop that was swimming in an Alba White Truffle Celery Root mock Risotto that tasted better than any other risotto we have ever had. And all without the use of dairy! It was followed up with Roasted California Chanterelles and Freshly Ground Flint Corn Polenta with Frisee-Cress Salad, Braised Sweet Onions and Conservatory-made Verjus. The next dish starred Caramel Apple Cider Cured Pan Roasted Breast of Duck that was resting atop a Duck Confit Stuffed Greening Apple Ravioli with Pink Lady and Crisp Ginger Salad. 

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of James Beard Foundation

The main course that everyone was waiting for was the Black Pepper Star Anise Crusted Wagyu Strip Loin with a Bone Marrow Gremolata and Black Butter Parsnip Purée. With so many rich courses, the chefs kept dessert on the lighter side, serving an Orange Blossom Honey Roasted Seckle Pear with a Nocturn Dark Chocolate Ganache Center and Bourbon Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Hazelnut Toffee on the side. 

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of James Beard Foundation

There wasn't a single dissatisfied guest and even vegetarians were thrilled with the dishes—sans meat, of course. One guest even expressed that though she once thought she didn't like duck, she quickly realized that she would "eat anything Chef Jimmy Schmidt cooked" and love it.

We will all just have to wait to see what happens come February 2015 when each participating Rising Star chef will head to Waldorf Astoria New York to prepare their chosen recipes for the panel of judges. The winning dish will then be included on the worldwide menus of all 28 Waldorf Astoria hotels and resorts. We can't wait to see who it is, so stay tuned!

taste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of James Beard Foundationtaste of waldorf, james beard, la quintaPhoto Courtesy of James Beard Foundation

Around the Web