The original title of this article was Chef Engin Dreams of Day Off, by Maggie Downs, but since Chef Redelsperger and Chef Gaertner are chefs that have personally cooked for me in their homes, I took some liberty to give them a shout out in the title. They are talented, funny and just a joy to be around. I've enjoyed all of the featured chef's cuisine and they are all wonderful.
What do our favorite chefs like to do when they get together? It involves sharp knives, fire, wine, beer, and Moscow Mules. What could possibly go wrong?
At a sleek house in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood of Palm Springs, the chefs are introduced through other senses instead. It’s all about scent and sound. Walk up the driveway, and you already know who’s inside.
There’s the discordant clang of pans pulled from shelves. The shimmy and whistle of a simmering pot. Knives making contact with cutting boards. A cork’s deep sigh as it’s released from the wine bottle.
The air is laced with intoxicating smells. It’s an enchanting mix of rendering fat and caramelized onions. Yeast, roasted vegetables, the snap of vinegar. Burnt sugar and citrus. It’s eau de parfum.
This house is where chef Engin Onural and five of his pals are spending the day — eating, drinking, and enjoying some well-deserved merriment on a chefs’ day off.
He might look like a mere mortal while chatting with his friends, but in the culinary world, Onural is a renowned sushi prodigy. He earned the Sushi Proficiency Certificate from the All Japan Sushi Association in 2013 — before he even turned 30 — making Onural the only Turkish person in the world to carry it. He’s been named in the peer-reviewed Best Chefs America list for his sushi craftsmanship, and he consistently takes home prizes for best sushi in the Coachella Valley.
Onural is also known as the mastermind behind The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge in Palm Desert, a chic restaurant where the menu ranges from ultra-traditional to wildly experimental. And because the food is of such high quality, The Venue has also become something of an industry hangout.
Chefs from all over the valley flock to savor Onural’s culinary creations. Over time and over many servings of excellent eats, several of them have become his friends.