Executive Chef Michael Knowles walked out of Delicias’ open kitchen with a smile on his face, clearly excited to discuss his passion. Chef Knowles has been leading the kitchen at Delicias for a year and a half, although with over 20 years of culinary experience, he’s no new kid on the block when it comes to cooking. He was clearly in his element as he effortlessly answered questions regarding culinary innovations and Delicias’ present and future success. He explained that earlier in his career, he had worked with world-renowned Chef Wolfgang Puck in his restaurant Postrio in San Francisco, and later worked as Sous Chef for the Wolfgang Puck fine-dining group restaurants, Spago and Postrio in Las Vegas. Chef Knowles reminded us that Chef Wolfgang Puck has ties to Delicias as well since the Chef had come into Rancho Santa Fe to open the original Delicias. Since that opening, Delicias has been in the hands of a few culinary leaders, but Chef Michael Knowles has quickly and easily made his presence felt. He boasts several advances in his short time with Delicias and looks forward to continued developments in quality and satisfaction.
When asked to pick his favorite aspect of the recent progresses at Delicias, Chef Knowles joyfully exclaimed “It’s all seasonal!” He explained that his inspiration comes from the seasons, so it makes sense that he changes his menu 5-6 times per year to ensure he is always creating dishes with the freshest and highest quality ingredients possible. His menu is made up of all seasonal ingredients and he is a very regular customer of nearby Chino Farms. Whatever this highly regarded farm has that day is what Chef Knowles uses as inspiration for his menu that evening. Not only do fresh ingredients create the highest quality of cuisine, but Chef Knowles strongly believes in supporting local farmers by using local, sustainable ingredients. His excitement for Fresh California cuisine was evident as he explained how he has brought the concept of using all sustainable products to Delicias’ kitchen. He explained his technique of bringing products directly “from farm to table,” and he couldn’t be more accurate since Chino Farms is no more than a mile and a half from Delicias kitchen. Having such a wonderful selection of ingredients to work with is all the more inspiring to Chef Knowles and it’s clear that he truly enjoys being creative in his kitchen.
This creativity is portrayed throughout Delicias’ menu, where Chef Knowles offers innovative dishes that combine quality ingredients with stimulating flavor mixtures. Traditional meals are twisted into visionary masterpieces. Cooking allows Chef Knowles to transform simple “eating” into an artful and tasteful experience for anyone lucky enough to enjoy his work. The talented chef admits he’s always excited to re-invent his menu with the changing of the seasons, although he must also admit that some patrons take a little time to adjust to the ever-evolving menus. This customer loyalty is why Delicias has chosen to keep some classic favorites permanently on the menu, such as the Mac ‘n Cheese with prosciutto, peas, black truffle oil and six cheese sauce, and the Chinese Chicken Salad.
Chef Knowles’ excitement to serve only the best ingredients and flavors serves as his motivation for constant improvement. The freshest products are at his hands and his proverbial wheels seem to always be turning to achieve an impeccable quality of innovative, leading-edge, fresh cuisine. Attention to detail is exhibited in each plate that leaves his kitchen, compiling beautiful color contrasts, balanced textures, complimenting flavors and impressive aesthetic presentation. The hard work Chef Knowles puts into his work clearly pays off with the high level of satisfaction that Delicias’ varying clientele exude. With a highly passionate staff, continued guest satisfaction and excellent cuisine, Delicias and Chef Michael Knowles are sure to remain a force to be reckoned with in the culinary world.