Tag Archives: Beets

i8tonite: with Palm Springs’ Workshop Chef Michael Beckman

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Chef Michael Beckman: Photo by Van Roo

Palm Springs is known as a resort town – an enclave for second homes, secret hotel pools, and cocktails. The cocktail culture is the town’s prevailing modus operandi. With a population of a little over 50,000, it’s never really been considered a food haven. Ask a few of the locals who live in the desert year round, and the answer is their private chef does the cooking. Or, they recommend one or two restaurants which are more about an elongated drink menu rather than a superbly pan-roasted fish or braised greens from the surrounding Coachella Valley farmers. There are a few notable exceptions to this observation.  The first that comes to mind is the four-year-old Workshop, owned and cheffed by Michael Beckman, which can be the honest answer to the question: “Where to eat in Palm Springs?”

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Workshop: Photo by Michael Horton

There are two reasons for this. The first is that Mr. Beckman is a classically French-trained chef with stints apprenticing, cooking, and learning in European kitchens, including Burgundy’s three Michelin-starred Lameloise and working under noted German chef Thomas Kellerman at the Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. Beckman maybe the only independent chef in the Southern California desert communities to claim to work in a Michelin-starred dining room.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael BeckmanSecondly, he’s smart enough to promote his restaurant outside the Palm Springs area, getting the first and the last reservations from area visitors. It’s been a very smart business move to market his talents to the gourmand set, rather than wait for visiting travel media shuffling through for an annual Palm Springs pilgrimage. Instead of getting the backend of travel pieces, Beckman put forth the effort and it’s paid off with stories in Sunset Magazine, Bon Appetit, Eater, and Wall Street Journal. But the question remained: how could someone with Beckman’s background become part of Palm Springs? Truthfully, he stated he was a private chef working with a client based in Rancho Mirage. He grew to love the area’s farmers markets and vendors, as well as the community’s natural beauty, so he stayed, opening Workshop and having a family.

Interestingly, Beckman – though successful — is so dedicated to his

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Workshop: Photo by Michael Horton

craft that he recently completed a several month staaj (cooking apprenticeship) with celebrated New York City’s chefs Dan Barber, Blue Hill Farms and Daniel Hume, Nomad (also of the Michelin-starred Eleven Park Madison). Beckman, as a chef, wants to continue to creatively evolve.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael BeckmanBeckman will have another feather to add to his list of accomplishments – Truss + Twine, a bar serving handcrafted cocktails and small bites; a chef will work in tandem with the bartenders behind the bar in a dedicated cooking area. Palm Spring’s newest watering hole is slated to open fall 2016. Lastly, he also partnered to oversee the food and beverage program for an unnamed independent 44-room hotel concept that that will have a restaurant and rooftop pool area. The hotel’s construction will start at the end of 2016.

Beckman will soon be hailed as Palm Springs’ Emperor to All Things Culinary. Rightly so.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? 16 years.

Chicken Diavolo. From i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Chicken Diavolo: Photo by Van Roo.

What is your favorite food to cook? Braises are most satisfying for me with deep flavors that develop, and the cozy aromas and feel of a braised dish is somehow emotional for me.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Quesadilla mise en place.  Eggs for omelettes.  A perfectly made omelette is one of my favorite challenges to see a chef’s skill set.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Lentil salad

What do you cook at home? I love my Weber grill for smoking and grilling fish and meats.  I also get nostalgic for the Lebanese food I cooked as a private chef in Beverly Hills and love those flavors.  Super healthy and super flavorful.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Someone who puts us in the drivers seat and trusts us.


What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a

Workshop Burger and Fries. i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Workshop Burger and Fries: Photo by Michael Horta

customer? People who lie at the host stand about their reservation.  People who don’t even read the menu and want to order something they can get anywhere.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? None of the above. Deli cups.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Yes, please.

Your favorite cookbook author? Dan Barber for “The Third Plate

Your favorite kitchen tool? My Chef de Cuisine Max.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael BeckmanYour favorite ingredient? Eggs.

Your least favorite ingredient? Balsamic reduction.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Cleaning the fryer.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Mediterranean basin.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Beef.

Favorite vegetable? Right now I’m digging parsnips.

Chef you most admire? I like Paul Kahan’s rustic straight-forward style and also how prolific he is with his projects.

The food you like the most to eat? Oysters

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Outside Workshop: Photo by David A. Lee.

The food you dislike the most? Shitty banquet food.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None yet.  Never could figure out the first one…we’ll see.


Recipe: Beet Braised Lentils

Here’s a recipe from Feasting at Home, inspired by Chef Beckman’s dish at Workshop. She notes, “This recipe was inspired by a dish we had at a restaurant in Palm Springs, called Workshop. They topped their Beet braised lentils with a warm, crispy breaded goat cheese “cake”. It was divine. The chef, Michael Beckman, adds browned butter to the finished lentils, which brought it over the top.”

Beet braised lentils, inspired by Chef Beckman, Workshop.
Beet braised lentils, inspired by Chef Beckman, Workshop. Photo & Recipe: Feasting at Home

Beet infused lentils are a healthy side dish, with chicken or fish, or serve it on its own, as a vegetarian meal in a bowl with crumbled goat cheese.

3 T olive oil
1 C diced red onion ( ½ a red onion)
1 C diced carrot
½ C diced celery
1 Cup peeled and diced beet (one large beet, plus 2 more for juicing)
4 cloves roughly chopped garlic
1 T fresh Thyme leaves
1 Bay leaf
1 1/2 C black caviar, beluga, or Puy lentils ( soaked overnight if possible)
4 C chicken or vegetable stock
½ tsp salt
salt and pepper to taste
splash balsamic vinegar
1 Cup fresh beet juice (either purchase from a juice bar, or juice 2 extra large beets)
2- 3 T browned butter (optional but delicious)
crumbled goat cheese (optional)

In a large heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, beets and celery, and saute for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Turn heat to medium, add garlic, lentils and herbs and sauté for 2 more minutes.

Add stock and salt. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover with lid, and turn heat to low, maintaining a gentle simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the beet juice, taste for salt, add more if necessary, and continue simmering on low for 10-15 more minutes or until tender. If you feel there is too much liquid for your liking, keep the lid off, and increase the heat, letting it reduce. (I like the braise slightly juicy, personally, so I just replace the lid.)

Stir in a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and browned butter (optional) but the brown butter is divine.

Serve in a bowl with crumbled goat cheese, or as a base for fish or chicken.

Read about this recipe – and see more gorgeous photos – here.



The end. Go eat. 




i8tonite: Facebook, Newsletter and Kim Sunee’s Beet & Apple Salad

cropped-cropped-red-plate-with-knife-and-fork-md-logo-temp.pngLast week was busy at i8tonite, my newly deemed on-line lifestyle publication about food. I set up a Facebook page and then started a bi-weekly newsletter focusing on what lies ahead. I was very hesitant to create the Facebook page. The creation made the website seem realer. And that my career in public relations is morphing into an online publication. After years of promoting people to create content, I’m now creating content promoting people and food. I’ve now thrown out the middle man.

Photo by Mike Tungate
Photo by Mike Tungate

As I’m ensconced in mid-life, an age of more realized living — meaning how I want to live instead of just living —  I’m now exploring the United States.  With our move to Phoenix, Nick and I will travel throughout the Southwest, home to  breathtaking saguaros, the Sonoran desert, and red mountains. We are planning trips to Sedona, Tucson, Santa Fé, and Tombstone. (I have always wanted to go to Tombstone, Arizona just to say I’ve been.) Laramie, Cheyenne, Aspen, Denver, the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff are also on the ticket.

At some point, we will travel to Mukwonago, Wisconsin, where Nick was born and raised. It’s a small mid-Western town. You won’t find Kate Moss standing on the corner or a camera crew blocking the sidewalk. I don’t have to worry about the paparazzi or a traffic jam being created by yet another entertainment award show. It’s a significant destination for us because that’s where Nick’s family still resides. As a boy, with his siblings, Nick went ice fishing in the mid-western winters and swam in the lake during the summers.  I’ve never been ice-fishing. The closest I got to ice- fishing was in 1989. It was a New York City wet winter where I “fished” for my Marlboros in the pocket of my Moschino jacket before a Stephen Sprouse fashion show.  I don’t smoke anymore; the late Stephen Sprouse is now considered retro and I don’t know what happened to that Moschino jacket.

With possibly most of my global escapades behind me, I now travel outside the States without ever leaving my kitchen, gratefully letting international flavors take me away. I decided to use Kim Sunee’s “Mouthful of Stars,” an exquisite cookbook hybrid with personal essays throughout. Published in 2014, it’s a beautiful publication containing mouth-watering images with Ms. Sunee’s sublime prose.  The former food editor for the defunct Cottage Living offers her anecdotes about travels to Mexico, Sweden, Paris and her New Orléans home. As much as I would like to go to Sweden, it’s not going to happen before I get to Ecuador, Peru, Mexico or Paris again. I thought I would cook her Swedish Beet and Apple Salad…. just to do a little kitchen traveling before the beginning of my homeland discoveries. (In 2009, Kim also wrote one of my favorite food memoirs Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home.)


The salad is tart and savory with some horseradish heat. I loved the combination with the herbal dill, the crème fraiche richness, the red onion’s bite and sweetness of the beets and apples. Easy to make and very colorful for the holidays.

Swedish Beet and Apple Salad (adapted from Mouthful of Stars, serves 2 – 3 people):

You will need:

  • Two medium-sized beets, cooked (You can find cooked beets in the produce section if you don’t want to make your own.)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, coarsely grated.
  • One small red onion, thinly sliced with a mandolin.
  • Tablespoon of chopped and rinsed capers (or more to taste).
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh horseradish.
  • Tablespoon of chopped dill (or more to taste).
  • Several grinds of white pepper (Black pepper if you don’t have any is fine too).
  • 4 ounces of sour cream or crème fraiche. (Use the crème fraiche if you can find it. Most stores carry it in the fine cheese section. It makes a richer dressing.)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Let’s make this puppy:

Chopped the cooked beets into ¼ sticks and place in a bowl. Put in the thinly-sliced onions and apple.

In a small bowl and the remaining ingredients: crème, pepper, dill, capers, dill and horseradish. Stir. Add the apple cider to thin out the mixture. Stir until the desired consistency. (If you want a thinner dressing add a drop more vinegar.) Pour over the vegetables and apple, well-coating everything. Chill until ready to serve. Top with dill.

Beet Apple Salad

The End. Go Eat.