Celebrated chef, restaurateur, food scientist and innovator Jimmy Schmidt is now drawing inspiration from the bounty of the Coachella Valley and its environs to create the contemporary American cuisine at Morgan’s in the desert, the new signature restaurant at the legendary La Quinta Resort & Club. Sourcing the best local products grown and raised responsibly, he focuses on traditional cooking methods – such as open grilling, slow roasting, braising, pickling and curing – to create deliciously simple, rustic and healthful dishes for Morgan’s.
Chef Schmidt garnered national acclaim when he opened Rattlesnake Club restaurants in Denver and in Detroit, which celebrates more than 20 years as an award-winning Midwest dining destination. He has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his successful 30-year career, including the prestigious James Beard Award for “Great American Chef” (1987) and “Best Chef Midwest,” (1993) Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence,” and inclusion in Cooks Magazine’s “Who’s Who” and Gourmet Magazine’s “ America’s Top Tables” and “ America’s Best Restaurants.”Chef Schmidt is the 2012 winner of the coveted Chef’s Collaborative Pioneer Award, and in 2013 he and Morgan’s won the “Alfresco Dining” award from FSR/Free-Standing Restaurant Magazine. .
A pioneer in America’s culinary movement towards sustainable cooking and farm-to-table dining, Schmidt founded Chefs Collaborative in 1991, the nation’s leading nonprofit chefs organization devoted to fostering a sustainable food system, and was one of the original board members of The James Beard Foundation. He was also a founding board member of Share Our Strength ® in Denver, the national organization dedicated to making sure that no child in America grows up hungry, and he still serves as an advisor. Schmidt organized the first “Taste of the Nation” benefit for Share Our Strength in 1987, and it has become the largest national food-related fundraiser. The has also donated his time to Citymeals-on-Wheels, participating in fundraising events such as Wolfgang Puck’s annual American Wine & Food Festival in Los Angeles.
Jimmy Schmidt has authored and co-authored several cookbooks, including Cooking for All Seasons, Jimmy Schmidt’s Cooking Class, Heart Healthy Cooking for All Seasons, which he wrote with cardiologist Dr. Marvin Moser of Yale University and chefs Alice Waters and Larry Forgione; and Jimmy Schmidt’s Cooking Class II. Schmidt also wrote a weekly cooking column for Detroit News/Gannett Wire Services that appeared in 200 newspapers across the country.
A native Midwesterner, Schmidt studied electrical engineering at the University of Illinois. While studying abroad in southern France, 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 under Madeleine Kamman and graduated magna cum laude and first in class with a Professional Chef’s diploma from Modern Gourmet, Inc.
After serving as senior chef at Chez La Mère Madeleine in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, he moved to Detroit in 1977 to