By Raymond Bill

Those of us who have worked in a restaurant know how demanding it can be. We sacrifice our weekends and holidays and trade in our nine to five working hours for an unpredictable schedule that too often keeps us from our loved ones. There is no position more demanding than that of an Executive Chef. He or she is responsible for the entire kitchen operation and ultimately, the successes and failures of his or her business. The best Chefs in the industry will achieve success with their skills and their passion. Chef Freddy Rieger of Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is one of the happiest most driven chefs in our valley.

It’s that time of year again for the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational, where Barbara Sinatra and Chef Freddy have come together to see what delicious creations will be served at the much anticipated Luncheon & Fashion Show and the Black Tie Gala this Saturday night. I have been a fan of Chef Freddy for many years. Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing him in action as well as getting to know him outside of the kitchen.

As a kid growing up in Valley Forge, PA and Atlantic City, NJ, Rieger knew he would one day be a chef. After graduating from Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing, NJ, he would find success in not only his career but also his family. Freddy Rieger and his wife Diane chose to settle down in the Coachella Valley away from the busy cities that craved his talents, to raise their two daughters, both now in college. Now Chef Freddy can focus on the many outlets of the Resort that showcase his culinary depth.

POM offers an upscale casual dining atmosphere, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. What is unique about POM is that it undergoes quite a transformation from breakfast to lunch and again to dinner. Not only do the menus change, the music and table settings do as well. POM also hosts, “Italian Night” on Wednesdays featuring a 3 course family-style meal.

The Bistro offers contemporary, fine cuisine. This is where Chef Rieger shines! The way he interacts with his guests and colleagues is genuine. Some of my favorite menu items include Panko Seared Scallops and Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs. Oh, and the sushi!

The newest restaurant at Fantasy Springs is Joy, featuring a menu of mostly Chinese classics with Vietnamese and Korean influences. Chef Freddy tells me that while Italian food is his favorite, Asian cuisine is a very close second! Having been to Joy, I can assure you there is authenticity in flavor and ambiance!

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino also has a pizza kitchen serving New York style pizzas (be sure to try the one with Chef Freddy’s Meatballs) and Lique, an ice cream parlor/ old fashion malt shop with 20 flavors of premium ice cream as well as hand crafted burgers, carne asada tacos and more. And of course there is the Fresh Grill Buffet for those of us that want a little bit of everything!

With so much on his plate, one would think Rieger to be a typical stressed chef, often yelling and swearing. I assure you he is a humble man, deserving of much respect for being able to oversee so many restaurants of different cuisines and ambiances with class. I have always been impressed with Chef Freddy. See for yourself and visit The Bistro, POM and Joy. You won’t be disappointed.

At press deadline a few tickets were still available for the Barbara Sinatra Fashion Show and Luncheon, at $125 each; and for the Gala at $1,000 each. To purchase tickets for all Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational events, contact the tournament office at (760) 674-8447 or go to www.franksinatragolf.org.

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