Lisa’s Life

The Thoughtful Chef is a culmination of eclectic recipes from over the last 20 of her 44 years of Lisa’s professional cooking. It is also mostly gluten-free but can also be easily replaced with regular flour wherever it’s used. As a child, Lisa always had an interest in cooking but never thought it would become her lifetime career. At the age of 10, Lisa’s mother paid Lisa by helping her prepare dinner, and by the time Lisa was 16 years old, she was shopping, meal planning, cooking, and all on a budget of 60 dollars a week for 4 people. Lisa’s professional career began when she took a job as a waitress when she was 20 years old at The Good Earth in Westwood, California. She loved the high energy of the restaurant business and was immediately drawn to the professional kitchen. The head cook gave her a chance and Lisa never looked back. Lisa’s need to be creative and physical at what she wanted to do in life was a priority and this satisfied these needs more than she ever dreamed it would.

Lisa has cooked in some of the greatest restaurants in Los Angeles. Her first apprenticeship was at Ma Maison under Wolfgang Puck in 1979, the most infamous restaurant that catered mostly to the stars. This is where she fell in love with food. In 1980, Lisa’s second apprenticeship was at L’Orangerie, a very elegant and highly acclaimed restaurant. She then worked briefly under Ken Frank of La Toque in 1982, another highly acclaimed restaurant and well-known chef. Lisa’s most notable job was when she was tipped her that a line cooking job was opening at Spago, on Sunset Blvd while finishing her last shift at La Toque. She ran over there as La Toque was only a few miles from Spago and got the job. This was one of the first open kitchens in the country and after 2 years, Lisa became Wolfgang’s head chef in 1986, her greatest accomplishment to date. “I loved the open kitchen because I could see the smiles on people’s faces as they ate.” Lisa says. After Spago, Lisa consulted and started a catering business which was interrupted with an opportunity in 1993, to open a restaurant in Malibu called, Bambu, as executive chef, and partner. Bambu and Lisa were an instant success from day one which also featured a sushi bar along with Lisa’s eclectic, no fuss, farm to table, healthy cuisine. While there, she won 3 awards for one of the Top 100 Chefs in America, bringing innovative ideas into the new millennium, in 1995, 1996, and 1997. While at Bambu, Lisa was discovered by Paul Newman in 1998, recruiting her to consult for Newman’s Own, creating 2 sauces and writing 2 cookbooks for the company. After this, Lisa picked up her catering business which became The Malibu Chef in 2006 and is still going strong in 2022. She is also the creator and CEO of Butter Barn Butter, a gluten free, non-gmo, grass-fed, organic cookie and brownie company, and sells her products online and at all Erewhon Markets in Los Angeles, as well as some healthier markets around the country.

“My passion for cooking and creating is a spiritual experience. It’s a meditation that runs deep into my soul. I want the very best of my energy going into the food I cook for my clients, family, and friends. Many have said they feel better after eating my food which is the highest compliment anyone could ever give me. I hope this cookbook translates this feeling to you and your kitchen. I never wanted to look at my work as a job, and blessed as I am, I’ve never worked a day in my life.”

Lisa Stalvey-Coady

Lisa's Life: A Journey of Food and Stories