Oprah Winfrey and Eduardo Chavez

Photo: Chris Craymer

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There are certain people you're just naturally drawn to. You know the ones I mean, right? People who have a way of making you feel instantly welcome when you walk into a party and genuinely cared for long after you say your good-nights. They've got the easy, good manners that come with being raised right, an eye for detail, an instinct for creativity, and an unfailingly generous heart. Which brings me to Eddie.

Eddie Chavez used to work at the parties I'd attend around my Santa Barbara neighborhood. Excellence does not go unnoticed, and I remember watching the way he served hors d'oeuvres or tended bar or just managed to do whatever needed doing...and then some! He was attentive, he was nurturing, and he never forgot who drank what. But beyond all that, the man radiated kindness, and that's a quality worth seeking out. It wasn't long before I hired him myself.

Soon after, I discovered Eddie's talent with juices, which he incorporates into gorgeous cocktails and salads. Anybody can read a recipe and mix up a good Moscow mule, but to go into the garden, pick fresh basil, limes, and cucumbers, and blend those ingredients with a roasted-jalapeño-infused vodka, well, there's an art to that—and Eddie is an artist! He muddles mint and cubes watermelon, he tosses quinoa in a spicy citrus dressing, he picks something ripe and elevates it to something extraordinary. The tools of his trade include radishes sliced thin as angel wings, baby arugula tossed with ribbons of Gruyère, passion fruit puree, sweet-tart tangerine juice, agave syrup, and sugar-rimmed glasses. Friends come to stay for a week and know that there will be a different drink (with alcohol or without) waiting for us on the porch every night at sunset. For Gayle and Stedman, it's always without.

That's the thing about Eddie: He takes pleasure in dreaming up an original idea and then executing it to perfection. What can I say? Some people see a zucchini and ask, "Why?" Eddie sees a zucchini and asks, "Why not a zucchini martini?"

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