chef-name: Jimmy Schmidt

Jimmy Schmidt is considered to be one of the most influential forces on the American cuisine scene.

Raised on a farm near Champaign, Illinois, he studied electrical engineering at the University of Illinois, and ventured into cooking purely by accident. During a summer break in France in 1974, Jimmy studied both cooking and wine in Avignon, and it was there that he met Madeline Kamman, who became a force in his career.

Rather than return to engineering, he decided to stay on to pursue a career in the culinary arts and wine, earning a culinary degree from Luberon College and the French Institut Technique du Vin diploma from Maison du Vin in Avignon. He then returned stateside to Boston, where he continued his culinary education and graduated magna cum laude and first in class with a Professional Chefs diploma from Modern Gourmet, Inc.

After serving as senior chef at Chez La Mere Madeleine in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, he moved to Detroit in 1977 to become executive chef and general manager of the London Chop House. He then moved to Denver in 1985 to open his first Rattlesnake Club.

It was there in 1986, that Great Chefs caught up with him to tape three dishes for their PBS series Great Chefs of the West, a Blue Corn Blini w/Salmon appetizer, a Curried Lamb Sausage entrée, and a White Chocolate Ravioli dessert. Chef Schmidt went on to open Rattlesnake Clubs in Detroit and Palm Springs. He sold the last Rattlesnake Club to Stroh’s Brewery Group who owned the building, in November 2010
In 1991, Chef Schmidt founded the Chefs Collaborative, and was one of the original board members of the James Beard Foundation, as well as a founding board member of Share Our Strength in Denver. He has authored and co-authored several cookbooks, has pioneered the farm to table movement, and is a three time James Beard Award winner.

Chef Schmidt is now drawing inspiration from the bounty of the Coachella Valley and its environs to create the contemporary American cuisine at Walter Morgan’s “MORGAN’S in The Desert”, the new signature restaurant at the La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California.