A Passion for Local, Seasonal and Sustainable at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel Print
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Andres Jimenez at Ritz-Carlton, Laguna NiguelA childhood in Costa Rica surrounded by farms helped form Chef Andres Jimenez's passion for local, seasonal, sustainable and organic products. It's a passion he's been able to share with others as the executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Not only does Chef Andres partner with local farms that include Maggie Farms, Tuti Fruti, Gloria Farms, VR Farms and Aqua Farms (for mussels, clams and oysters) but he regularly takes guests on tours of the resort's own herb garden, put in last year as part of the Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment program. Here is a short video with Chef Andres in the garden talking about how to work with the herbs rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme.  

In a recent cooking demonstration at the resort (on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean no less), Chef Andres shared with us this recipe for pomegranate and bulgur wheat salad (click "read more" for recipe), which is as delicious as it is healthy -- not to mention garden-friendly. He also left us with this nifty tip: If you want to illustrate the importance of buying organic, just taste the difference it makes in butter. 

Pomegranate and Bulgur Wheat Salad

1 cup bulguar wheat
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 stalk celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 bunch Italian parsley (just the leaves)
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (6 medium pomegranates)
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1 avocado, cut in cubes
salt and pepper to taste
Bibb lettuce (optional)

Cook bulgur with the chicken stock using a heavy bottom pot. Once cooked, cool down and add garlic. Mix remaining ingredients except walnuts and avocado. Season to taste. Let salad sit in the refrigerator for at least six hours. Toss in the walnuts and avocado just before serving. Add more seasoning if necessary. Enjoy!