Executive Chef Denise Roa’s cuisine celebrates taste, vibrant colors, and the aliveness of the freshest seasonal ingredients possible. Her farm-to-table meals, usually inspired by a morning walk through the 5-acre organic farm just outside her door, are carefully prepared aesthetic triumphs—simultaneously rustic yet complex in their flavors, as well as being eminently healthy and satisfying for the body as well as the mind and spirit.
Her approach to cooking fuses the culinary and cultural heritages of her own life with the nutritious “spa cuisine” precepts pioneered by Rancho La Puerta co-founder Deborah Szekely, who also founded the Golden Door.
At The Ranch’s La Cocina Que Canta (“The Kitchen That Sings”), Chef Denise teaches cooking classes that start with a visit to the garden. Later, gathering the group around an immense center island, she inspires everyone with her focused passion and skills, and her enthusiasm for making cooking a fun, communal experience.
In the main dining room at Rancho La Puerta, her artful menus delight and surprise guests. Her approach has been described as “real meals that’ll reboot, recharge and make us rethink how we see (and eat) food” (Naturally Magazine, 2015).
Chef Denise’s culinary career includes studying Culinary Arts at the world-renowned Johnson & Wales University in Miami, and holding positions at some of San Diego’s best known and respected restaurants, including Pacifica Del Mar, Crescent Shores Grille, Del Mar Racetrack Turf Club, and her own restaurant, La Trattoria. Her recipes have been featured in People Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, San Diego TV stations, and other media outlets. Additionally, Chef Denise is an instructor at the Culinary Art School of Tijuana, Mexico.