Welcome to the “Trilogy’s Top Chefs” series, through which we’ll highlight some of the incredibly talented chefs leading the culinary teams at the Trilogy communities. In this first issue, we’ll get to know Chef Randy Lutz of Trilogy® at The Vineyards in California.
Chef Lutz became Executive Chef of Café D’Oro at Trilogy® at The Vineyards last August, and he has been wow-ing the members ever since with his culinary creativity. Prior to coming to Trilogy, he was Executive Chef of the Michelin star rated ‘Ame’ restaurant at the iconic St. Regis Hotel. He also earned a coveted “Best 30 Under 30” award from Zagat, and was even a guest judge on the season finale of Hell’s Kitchen with Chef Gordon Ramsay. Chef Lutz has been fortunate to be mentored by some of the best chefs and food & beverage operators in the Bay area – and now the Trilogy® at The Vineyards members are fortunate to have him leading the Culinary Team at Café D’Oro.
Get to know more about Chef Randy Lutz through our “Ten Questions for the Chef” segment, below.
1. When did you first discover your passion for food?
Chef Lutz: As an undergrad at Arizona State University, I took a nutrition class. I remember making some focaccia bread & linguine from scratch. For some reason, the feeling of flour on my hands made me extremely happy. From then on I knew what I wanted to do. I moved back to California, went to culinary school at Diablo Valley College, and have been working full time in kitchens ever since then.
2. How would you describe your cooking style or your culinary point of view?
Chef Lutz: I try to procure the freshest ingredients I can find. When you start with something great, you don’t need much to create an amazing dish.
3. Which chefs have most inspired and influenced you during your career?
Chef Lutz: Several chefs have inspired me:
- Phillipe Chevalier is the first chef I worked for. He spoke only four words in English. The rest of our communication involved him yelling at me in French. He taught me the basics.
- Kevin Gin is a Chinese chef who taught me the importance of balance, yin and yang. This helped train my palate.
- Hiro Sone is the best chef I have ever worked for. He taught me how to run and lead a Michelin starred kitchen. From cost control to menu development, I learned it all from him.
4. What are your favorite ingredients to work with?
Chef Lutz: I love working with seafood, especially raw fish. I love Live Spot Prawns, Abalone, Sea Urchin, Geoduck Clams, and various whole fish. Spring is my favorite time of the year because of the fresh produce. I love English Peas, Fava Beans, Asparagus, Rhubarb and Artichokes.
5. What is your favorite tool or piece of equipment in your kitchen?
Chef Lutz: Without a doubt, that would be my Chef knife.
6. What is your favorite meal to prepare when you’re not at work?
Chef Lutz: For myself, it would be grilled chicken, quinoa and vegetables, or just a sandwich. For my mom (she loves pasta), it would be herb flecked linguine with rabbit ragu. For a date, I might get a little carried away.
7. What are some of your favorite wines to pair with dinner?
Chef Lutz: Depending upon the dish, my favorites include:
- Schramsberg Brut Rose
- Pinot Noir
- Petite Sirah
8. What is the best piece of advice you would give to aspiring home chefs who are nervous about stretching out of their cooking comfort zone?
Chef Lutz: Try it. If you fail, try again. Many of the biggest lessons I have learned have come from failure. Pushing myself to try new things is how I got myself to where I am today.
9. What is your favorite event that you’ve hosted at Trilogy® at The Vineyards in the last year?
Chef Lutz: My favorite event was the Kaiseki Dinner, which was a unique dining experience for eight Trilogy members. It was a thirteen-course meal created from ingredients that I had sourced from all over the world. The meal included highly detailed dishes guided by Japanese aesthetics, with a focus on meticulous preparation and beautiful presentation.
One of the members in attendance shared the following feedback with me:
“The Kaiseki dinner was so exquisite that it is difficult to describe without resorting to cliches. The food was delicious, exotic and memorable. Each course was a small and beautiful window into Japanese culture. Chef Randy Lutz planned and executed an entertaining and educational experience that we were talking about days later. Live prawns in a tank! Glow in the dark tiny squid! For over three hours, we were awed by the beauty and delicacy.” – Jill Geiger, Trilogy member
It was definitely a fun dining experience to create for our members – and I’m look forward to hosting our next Kaiseki dinner in July.
10. Can you give us a teaser of some of the culinary events, topics, or themes that the Trilogy® at The Vineyards members can look forward to in the coming months?
Chef Lutz: We are in the process of developing a number of programs for our members in the coming months. These programs will take advantage of the area’s unique agricultural offerings, creating one-of-a-kind culinary experiences. We are also developing culinary programs that could involve members and their grandchildren.
Thank you to Chef Randy Lutz for sharing a bit about his kitchen and his culinary perspective.
Watch for the next article in the “Trilogy’s Top Chefs” series! In the meantime, meet another one of Trilogy’s Top Chefs in a previous post.