Meet Chef Chris Anderson of SO•PA in the L’Horizon Resort and Spa
One of the great joys of visiting Palm Springs is how much time you can spend outdoors. And if you're looking for a fantastic alfresco dining experience then you'll definitely want to book a table at SO•PAin the L’Horizon Resort and Spa.
Chef Chris Anderson joined SO•PA in April 2016 and has put together menus based off of the flavor profiles of his childhood growing up in the South and then mixed them with global influences and modern techniques. "I design dishes based around the seasons and memories of things that I have grown up with," he says. "When I design a plate, I pull ideas from nature to art—just depends on what inspires me!"
Anderson describes the food at SO•PA as being very Americana-driven with influences and techniques from around the world. "What I mean by that is that I grew up Southern, so you will see use of ingredients such as buttermilk instead of heavy whipping cream or something deep-fried verses poached."
Born and raised in Washington, North Carolina, Anderson explains that to say he had a love for food growing up in the South would be a vast understatement. "There, it’s a way of life." He went on to attend the International Culinary School at the Art Institute where he joined the competition team and was awarded a silver medal at the ACF Junior Hot Foods Competition.
"After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Culinary Arts, I headed off to Europe to soak up as much knowledge as I could about classical cooking and techniques," says Anderson. For a year, he studied and lived in Lyon, France and worked at the two Michelin Star restaurant Auberge de L’Ile underneath chef Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex. "Jean-Christophe taught me that you always need to listen," he says. "Listen to a person, to food, to moments, to emotion.”
Upon returning to the U.S., Anderson headed to Chicago where he worked at culinary meccas such as Alinea, Moto, and L2O. "Working at Moto with Chef Richie Farina taught me invaluable management lessons and helped me develop the work ethic that made me grow from a passionate cook into a chef," says Anderson. After taking over as the Executive Chef of Moto Anderson earned a Michelin Star for 2016.
Living in the desert has further fueled his creative drive. "I love the way of life here, not only in Palm Springs but in California as a whole," he says. "I love the produce, the people, and the weather. This was a place that I felt I could spread my wings and make something great happen. This is also somewhere great for a family to be raised, between all the sun, palm trees and pools—I don’t think it could get much better. You only live life once and life in Palm Springs is good."
But his focus on creating innovative food is never far from his mind. "I believe most fine-dining chefs try to always lean on European cuisine," he says. "As for me, I am American, born and raised. I believe that we are not an old country, but we still have a culture and a food scene that rivals those across the rest of the globe. That’s what I want to focus on—showing the rest of the world that we have culture and heritage here too. We are not just about fast food here in America–we also have a backbone to the country with a lot of really good Low Country, farm-to-table cooking. Recipes that were passed down from grandmothers and mothers."
SO•PA, L’Horizon Resort and Spa, 1050 East Palm Canyon Drive, 760-323-1858
Captions (top to bottom): Chef Chris Anderson; the restaurant's alfresco dining "room;" their Lobster & Corn dish featuring poached Maine lobster, sweet corn pudding, sautéed celery root, Kaluga caviar, and arugasabi [an edible flower]
Lobster & Corn photography by Dre Naylor