Cuisinier Joel Delmond has practiced his beloved art of cooking in many of the world’s most beautiful places’ kitchens, starting in his native France and continuing through Switzerland, The Netherlands, Italy, Egypt, Greece, and Morocco. But apparently, he likes the Palm Springs Valley of Southern California—and specifically, the City of Rancho Mirage—the best. He’s been in the U.S. for 25 years, spent the last 24 with Westin Hotels & Resorts (Boston, Kansas City, Atlanta), and the last 17 at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa.
An award-winning chef both stateside and in Europe, Joel says his biggest professional achievements has been receiving the invitation to serve as guest chef at the James Beard House in 2002. “This is one of the top things that you can do, and very few chefs get to have this honor,” says the affable, tall and slender, silver-haired master. “It is up there with nothing else. It is definitely a privilege, and without a doubt it will be the pinnacle of my culinary career in the United States.”
Day to day, Joel still finds the joy of cooking in most everything he’s involved in at The Westin, where he oversees all food and beverage operations, including that at the Fireside Lounge and at signature eatery Pinzimini. When I asked him—during a recent visit to the resort—to list his top five favorite things about his job, he came up with seven. In no particular order, they are his expert and hardworking team, his continuing love of all things food, creating a great experience for guests by cooking for them, and the nutritional aspect of preparing meals with wholesome, fresh ingredients. He delights in the forever changing, consistently evolving aspects of product and technique, and specifically mentions global growth and molecular cooking. As one would suspect, the creative piece of the discipline sustains him. On a more immediate level, Joel tells me that he loves the anticipation of meal periods…the stressful but sublime “rush” of a busy restaurant or catered event…the instant gratification he receives from a job well done.
Having sat at Joel’s table on too many occasions to count—from pizza-making dinners to holiday extravaganzas—I can attest that this is a man who is good at what he does, and who takes it all very seriously—but not without a dash of good, tasty fun, of course. So do yourself a favor and make sure you sample Joel’s great gastronomic gifts soon!