Tired of cooking ultrarich dishes, star chef Sandro Gamba is creating healthy haute cuisine at the new Four Seasons Westlake in California.
After six years of cooking lavish french food at Nomi, the glamorous restaurant in the Park Hyatt Chicago, F&W Best New Chef 2001 Sandro Gamba came to a realization: "Most chefs are in the business of making people fat," he says, and any chef can make a dish taste great by adding fatty ingredients. Gamba quit his job and began sketching plans for a restaurant in which he would serve "cleaner," healthier versions of the rich risottos and terrines he cooked under Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse. He spent the next year traveling and experimenting in his kitchen. "I got to live like a husband and father—not a crazed chef—for a change," he says. When the Four Seasons asked him to be the executive chef at its new hotel in Westlake Village, California, he knew he had found the venue for his healthier approach. Partnering with the neighboring California WellBeing Institute, the Four Seasons offers a 40,000-square-foot spa as well as alternative medicine and educational programs. In the hotel’s five restaurants—even the flagship fine-dining room, Hampton’s—Gamba eliminates unnecessary fats and carbs and focuses on lean meat, fish and vegetables, preparing dishes like juicy turkey meat loaf and airy egg white soufflé with ratatouille. "Every recipe offers a sense of how to eat better," he says.