Raised in Miami of Mexican descent, Denise Roa began her culinary education at Johnson & Wales University in Miami and graduated with double associate’s degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry. She moved to San Diego in 1998 and began a successful career working for several of the region’s best known and respected restaurants, including Pacifica Del Mar, Crescent Shores Grille, Del Mar Racetrack Turf Club, Hilton Torrey Pines, and La Trattoria—a restaurant she owned and operated for six years. Most recently she has been an instructor at the Art Institute of California in San Diego, to date training approximately 500 students in essential culinary skills.
Chef Roa is keen to fuse the culinary and cultural heritages of her own life with the healthful “spa cuisine” dining pioneered by Rancho La Puerta. The resort has never focused on caloric deprivation, but instead celebrates the seasons of its own farm and organic-produce suppliers with a cuisine that is colorful, zesty, and satisfying—the kind of food that fuels a life of vigorous exercise and activity.
A nature and animal lover in her free time, Roa is delighted at the prospect of having a farm-fresh pantry at her doorstep—as well as the resort’s 3,000 acres of nature preserve on which to hike with her dogs. She will live at the farm, which is located about two miles from Rancho La Puerta and is part of a vast family-owned property that includes meadows, oak groves, streams, and mountainsides bedecked with “gardens” of giant granite boulders and chaparral.