By Rick Riozza

So what does an international master chef do for his patrons during the slow hot summertime here in the desert?  Well certainly he doesn’t forget his south of France gastronomic up-bringing as he delights with a trio of wine-pairing dinners that have been accentuating the flirty side of creative cuisine.  The third and final wine pairing dinner of the summer series will be held this Saturday, 7:30pm August 29th at the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa, Pinzimini Restaurant.

The James Beard Honored Executive Chef Joel Delmond exhibits an impressive career with a continuing compilation of education and experiences garnered from some of the finest chefs and restaurants throughout the world.  A consummate professional and gentleman, he is humble as pie.  We sat, quaffed a little wine, and chatted about the joys of the gustatory way of life at his early age in France, thereafter around the world, and, his nineteen years with the culinary whiz-kid at Westin Resorts.  We also conversed about his respected compatriots, such as Chef Hervé Glin, Bacher, Schmidt, Copley, Nyerick and other gifted chefs in our valley.

The Pinzimini website, reads, “The biggest honor for Chef Delmond was to be a guest chef at the James Beard House in 2002. ‘This is one of the top things one can achieve and very few chefs get to have this honor. It is definitely a privilege and without a doubt it will be the pinnacle of my culinary career in the United States,’”


Having been to most of the wine-dinners here at Pinzimini, this 2015 summer series was a bit out of the ordinary.  “Yes—that’s right, Chef Joel agreed.  “While the wine dinners allow me and Chefs Juan Leon and Antwon Brinson to be creative and bring a palatable experience to our attendees, we wanted to step it up a notch and offer something unique, so the summer series includes presenting the basis of our creations to the guests in a fun and interactive format.”

Indeed! This translated to interacting kitchen-prepping! for all the three wine dinners.  Fun stuff!—where  some of the dinner guests come earlier in the day to act as ad hoc sous-chefs for the night’s dinner.   And especially for the June dinner night’s arrival—we diners all became ad hoc wine makers!

Yep!—Representatives from the famed Napa Valley Franciscan Estate Winery brought ample bottles of the five pure unblended Estate Bordeaux varietal wines: Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.  So we patrons teamed up and all went at it with a calibrated wine-thief that allowed us to mix & match and produce a blend of our personal red wine blend—and winning “Best Meritage Blend in Rancho Mirage”.  How much fun was that!

Following, in July we enjoyed the Coppola Wine Dinner featuring Francis Ford Coppola Winery. It is written, “Hollywood’s great Francis Ford Coppola is as passionate for great wines as he is for great film. He purchased his first winery in 1975, the Inglenook Winery in California’s Napa Valley. Notably, Coppola makes a special series of Sonoma wines, which he called Director’s Cut.  It was a wine dinner we couldn’t refuse—yeah?

And honestly, it was one of the most fun and raucous wine dinner we’ve been at!  It was like a fling—simply four courses, and the dishes were so tasty and the wine so delicious, no one could figuratively contain themselves!  It was a party; it was a blast! Dan Ball from KMIR was there, our sports-girl Julie Buehler came by and we were graced with the presence of Kathleen von Dehn, founder and spokesperson for the ever charitable Winewomen PSP.  (By the way, please go to to see how this group donates to deserving charities that provide support and services across the valley)

This week’s final dinner in the Interactive Summer Wine Dinner Series showcases the fan favorite Rodney Strong Vineyards. Strong was one of the first cliques of Sonoma County bonded wineries and has earned the reputation for critically acclaimed Single Vineyard and Reserve wines, stand out Estate releases and best-in-class Sonoma County varietal wines.

During each course Chef Delmond will give insight on the creation of flavors within each dish and the combination of pairings, while a Rodney Strong winery representative will offer details about each of the wines being served.  And I’m pleased to announce that my foodie-crazed son, Paolo, will be cooking in the kitchen with the chefs for the night’s dinner.

Chef Joel and I spoke about the upcoming evening’s courses. And as we can expect, he will hold nothing back and thrill us with his inventive take in first class dining.   Immediately he speaks of the Chef’s Surprise & Delight with A Parade of Amuse, and following courses of Tuna Napoleon (with a “virtual egg”), Whole Roasted Quail, and a Black Mission Fig Tart dessert.

Each course is to be paired with a Rodney Strong wine and will include the stellar 2013 “Charlotte’s Home”  Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc, the showcase 2013 Russian River Pinot Noir, the famed 2012 Symmetry Red Meritage, and the winery’s special proprietary Reserve 2009, A True Gentleman’s Port.

The dinner is $85 plus tax and gratuity with limited seating. Reservations are required by calling (760) 770-2150 or via email to

Pinzimini at the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

Bon Appétit & Cheers!

Rick is your somm-about-town conducting and entertaining at wine events and tastings. Contact

  • Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge Photo Shoot Eight4Nine Palm Springs 07/28/15 © John Paschal/ 310-871-6613

  • Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge Photo Shoot Eight4Nine Palm Springs 07/28/15 © John Paschal/ 310-871-6613

  • Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge Photo Shoot Eight4Nine Palm Springs 07/28/15 © John Paschal/ 310-871-6613