Meet Chuck Courtney, Executive Chef At The Lively Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge
Eight4Nine in the Uptown Design District is always bustling with crowds enjoying the venue's eclectic menu. This month marks the one year anniversary of the restaurant's grand opening so it seemed like the perfect time to chat with their Executive Chef, Chuck Courtney.
Courtney actually started work several months before opening day to plan menus, meet with vendors and local farmers, and hire and train staff. To devise the restaurant's four menus— Lunch, Brunch, Dinner and Lounge—he did a survey of the most popular restaurants in the area and looked at their menus.
"This helped put together the framework of what seems to be working for the local crowd—types of appetizers, entrees, etc.—and from that I created menu items that are food that I feel strongly about—a lifetime on the West Coast definitely influenced the choices," he explains. "Some have been tried and true in other venues, but most are new ideas that are appropriate for the fun vibe at Eight4Nine."
Courtney grew up in Los Angeles and came out to Palm Springs as a child and as a young adult. "It always felt like home," he says. "I have lived here twice—from 2000 to 2006, and [then] moved back again in 2013. Hopefully for good! I love how easy life is here, and how close it is to Los Angeles, the mountains, the beaches, etc. for fun."
After initially working in print advertising, Courtney made a career change in 1996 to pursue his love of cooking. He went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon and then started his career in Seattle at the city's Sorrento Hotel and the Salish Lodge & Spa about 30 miles outside of town.
"Locally, I was one of the opening chefs at The Viceroy [now the Avalon Hotel] in Palm Springs," says Courtney. "I moved away to take a job with a boutique hotel company in the Bay Area [and worked] at the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa in Lafayette and at the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park. [But] Palm Springs drew me back which led to the opportunity of a lifetime at Eight4Nine."
And Courtney loves the atmosphere/vibe of the restaurant. [It's] fun, fresh, a party! It feels like something totally new for Palm Springs, yet totally feels like it belongs in Palm Springs."
Captions (top to bottom): Executive Chef Chuck Courtney; Grilled Scottish Steelhead with fennel, orange, basil, a crispy rice cake, and Arbequina olive oil (gluten free); Half Eight4Nine Cobb Salad with smoked Petaluma chicken, applewood bacon, Shaft’s blue cheese, tomato, farm egg, greens, and fresh herbs (gluten free); Eight4Nine Burger prepared with all-natural USDA Premium Angus Beef, Beecher's white cheddar or Shaft’s blue cheese, butter lettuce, tomato, and garlic dill thousand island on a brioche bun; the restaurant's exterior.
Photography by John Paschal