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Chef Michel Stroot

Celebrity Chef

Belgian-born chef Michel Stroot marries classic French techniques and a European sensibility to America's freshest foods.

The first spa chef ever nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award, Chef Stroot brings a European sensibility to his California cuisine. His kitchen has been praised by some of the world's most distinguished food and restaurant critics in publications such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Gourmet magazine and Vogue. The legendary late New York Times Food Editor Craig Claiborne pronounced Chef Stroot "a kitchen genius" whose creations are "tantalizing and singularly inspiring."

"Light and luxurious meet in a tranquil setting at the Golden Door," noted Gourmet magazine's Editor-in-Chief, who singled out "The delicate and delicious spa cuisine of Chef Michel Stroot" for special praise.

The Golden Door Cookbook: 200 Delicious and Healthful Recipes from the World's Most Luxurious Spa, authored by Chef Stroot and published by Broadway Books, received, in addition to the James Beard Foundation Award nomination, a warm welcome nationwide from Vogue magazine to CNN, CBS, and the "Today Show". Michel Stroot has credited the guests of the Golden Door with the success of his cuisine. "I dared to meet the guests after every meal and believe me, when you get direct criticism it makes a difference."

The Chef also credited the Golden Door's noted organic gardens for his fresh ingredients, where much of the spa's food is grown. Chef Stroot said he draws inspiration from the Golden Door's kitchen garden, a vivid mosaic of herbs, berries, vegetables, fruit orchards, and citrus, avocado and kiwi groves. " I am very close to the garden. I work closely with it and the seasons," he said. Chef Stroot's style of cuisine fraiche combines his flair for garden fresh ingredients with classic French cooking. He creates culinary sensations with intensely flavored vegetable stocks and herbs, emphasizing texture and freshness. "I want my asparagus soup to taste like asparagus, not cream, not butter, not chicken broth. You don't need butter or cream when you have freshness and intensely flavored ingredients,." he added.

Cuisine fraiche has been Chef Stroot's strength since he first joined the Golden Door in 1974. The spa is well known for its tradition of artfully prepared, healthful cooking. Although classically trained in French cuisine, Chef Stroot's curiosity about flavor and texture has led him to fold ethnic influences, ranging from Thailand to North Africa, into his repertoire. Unusual grains such as quinoa are among Chef Stroot's recent discoveries and add texture and an element of the unexpected to the Chef's elegantly conceived creations.

Noting the role of diet and living younger and longer, he added: "Weight loss is one thing. But it's important to realize that you're going to live twice as long as your ancestors-and being healthy is twice as important." During his nearly two decade long association with the Golden Door, Chef Stroot has taken sabbaticals for culinary adventures in the Napa Valley and the South of France, among other destinations. In addition to his work at the Golden Door, Stroot most recently was associated with Rancho La Puerta, the Golden Door's sister spa in Baja California. He also contributed his recipes to The Golden Door Cookbook: The Greening of American Cuisine, by Deborah Szekely.