Chef Cary Neff
Star chef Cary Neff grew up on the South side of Chicago, the youngest of five brothers. He discovered cooking at age 16, and with unfailing family support and a work ethic to "be the best at whatever you do."
He trained in classical French cooking at Chicago's venerable Washburne Trade School and went from there to earn prestigious positions as Chef de Cuisine and Executive Chef at some of Chicago's most respected establishments, including the Ritz Carlton, The Four Seasons Hotel and the Park Hyatt Hotel.
Neff apprenticed at the famed French restaurant Jimmy's Place, where he met his mentor, Yoshi Katsaturma. Of the Japanese-born and French-trained Katsaturma, Neff says, "He is my culinary hero. I learned from Yoshi how to make food that is pure on many different levels."
His current position is as the executive chef of La Costa Resort and Spa. In this position, Neff leads the resort's 50-person kitchen staff and is responsible for the menu development of the resort's three dining venues. These include Legends California Bistro, the Poolside Terrace Café and The Rancho Grill, a new restaurant slated to open in Fall 2003. Neff is also lending his expertise to a special menu offered by The Chopra Center at La Costa Resort and Spa.
A strong believer in maintaining a balance between good taste and good sense, Neff is devoted to cuisine that is both satisfying and healthful. Neff revolutionized healthy cooking when he introduced the internationally acclaimed, "Conscious Cuisine" which is based on the premise that eating healthy does not have to be boring. Neff incorporates only the finest ingredients into his recipes, utilizing seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to provide unparalleled flavor and balanced nutrition. He is the author of the best-selling Conscious Cuisine Cookbook and has appeared on nationally syndicated programs such as the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Prior to joining La Costa, Neff was executive chef at Miraval Life in Balance Resort and Spa in Catalina, AZ for eight years. In addition, Neff held positions as executive chef at the 8700 Restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ and has served as both the general manager and executive chef of the historic Wrigley Mansion Club in Phoenix, AZ. He was also the first chef for the Scottsdale Princess, playing an instrumental role in obtaining the prestigious Mobile Five Star and the AAA Five Diamond Award.
Neff is an active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Chef's Collaborative and the American Culinary Federation's Apprentice program. He lives in Carlsbad, CA with his wife and two children.