La Quinta Resort and Club and PGA West Names New Executive Chef

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La Quinta Resort and Club has appointed Stephen Strickland as executive chef for the award-winning property located in Southern California’s famed Palm Springs area. Strickland will oversee the day-to-day culinary operations for the 45-acre, 796-room property, which is world-renowned as one of the top golf and tennis destinations in the U.S.

“Stephen brings more than 15 years of food and luxury hospitality experience to La Quinta Resort, as well as his strong leadership, professionalism and creative spirit – all of which make him a great asset to our talented culinary team,” said Jay Kriske, La Quinta Resort’s director of food and beverage.

Strickland will be in charge of a staff of 80 and seven dining venues – including TWENTY6, an all-day modern American bistro; Adobe Grill, serving authentic regional Mexican cuisine; Ernie’s Bar and Grill and Wallaby’s West at PGA WEST; Mountain Dunes Golf Clubhouse; and Centre Court Cafe. He will also oversee spa and in-room dining and banquet operations for the resort’s expansive indoor and outdoor event spaces.

Most recently, Strickland was the executive chef of banquets for Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, a 2,000-room property at National Harbor in Maryland. During his tenure there, he orchestrated two inaugural balls held in honor of President Obama. Already familiar with desert living, he was previously the executive chef of Carefree Resort and Villas in the Arizona foothills of the Sonoran Desert, where he revamped its signature venue, The Lariat Grill, to offer a menu with Southwestern and Native American influences and local ingredients.

Prior to that, Strickland spent nine years with The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts, working as the executive chef for the company’s flagship property in Puerto Rico and banquet chef for its Five-Star, Five Diamond resort in Naples, Fla,. He was also garde manger chef for its luxury business hotel in Atlanta, Ga.

A native of Pittsburgh, Strickland is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburg, and a member of the American Culinary Federation and Chaine des Rotisseurs USA. He lives in La Quinta with his wife Julianna and two children. In his spare time, Strickland enjoys cycling, golfing, exploring new wines, eating Thai cuisine, cooking with friends, and traveling.

Posted on 8/31/10.