I’ve been cooking practically all my life. In high school I had a job at an Italian deli where we made our own cheeses, sausages, sauces, salads etc. Then I got a job in a wine shop where I assisted the owner in teaching a college level wine class. I moved to Paris when I was 19 and lived there for a year, working in a restaurant as a waiter. In France, waiters don’t just serve food. They prep food as well as clean the restaurant. It was a good lesson in what it really takes to run a restaurant. When I returned Stateside I got a job in a start up restaurant that was to become one of the most famous and top grossing of its time. The Quilted Giraffe was a ground breaking high end eatery with a world famous clientele. We started in upstate NY and moved to Manhattan a few years later. I worked my way up from waiter to Maitre D’, staying with the restaurant for 11 years.
I left to open my own place in Key West Florida called The Palm Grill. This time I was in the kitchen, and was fortunate to be quite successful and nationally recognized by the Food Network, Zagat, Gourmet, Bon Appetit and The New York times, not to mention lots of local and statewide press. We ran that for a few years, opened a second place called Isle of Bones, a Caribbean BBQ restaurant, and The Lizard Lounge, a jazz club. After about 10 years in Key West we opened a second Palm Grill in North Miami Beach which we ran for 3 years, then we finally had enough! It was time to retire to beautiful Palm Springs and travel the world, which was a fun idea…but if hospitality is in your blood you just can’t stop.
We had a big old Spanish house in Palm Springs and one day an idea come to mind that we couldn’t deny. It was then that the first version of Casa de los Desperados was born. It was popular right away, to our surprise, and the breakfasts and dinners we served made it more exciting. As more and more guests asked about hiking, we decided to look for a more rural spot. One day as we were visiting one of our favorite places, Whitewater Canyon, we saw a little ‘For Sale’ sign. When we pulled in we were sold! It was a huge mess, occupied by armed squatters and covered with garbage and broken down vehicles, but we saw through all of that. We had found a home for our 2nd iteration.
It took almost 3 years to completely clean up and renovate. We put in a pro style kitchen, private baths for each room, and upgraded everything. It has become a great place to display some of our collected antiques and art. I really wanted a mountain lodge meets western ranch feeling, and it’s been great fun creating a space to make people feel relaxed and at home, but also get away from it all. All our guests were eager to stay at the new location, which is spectacular with stunning views of the north face of Mt. San Jacinto and access to the fantastic Wildlands Preserve just up the road. The Whitewater River, which runs all year is close enough for our dogs to swim in daily! It’s a slice of desert paradise. And the city of Palm Springs is only 15 minutes away.
Thank you so very much for reading more about my journey. I hope you enjoy our latest version of Casa de los Desperados and my most recent reincarnation as a semi-retired chef! I look forward to sharing stories, helping with sightseeing and dining plans, and being the best host for your desert getaway.