WHEN A FAD SEIZES the American imagination, chances are it was born in Hollywood. And if eating well is now a national habit, give props to Akasha Richmond, healthy-food chef to the stars. When the native of Hollywood, Florida, landed on the West Coast in the early eighties, the glitterati were just adding words like cholesterol and organic to their lexicon. Richmond, working at the now defunct Golden Temple, in L.A., started serving up soy-based main courses and sugar-free desserts that convinced the Tinseltown vanguard that vegetarian food could be savory. When she left the restaurant in 1984, diners wept in their tempeh, but they soon clamored for her private service. She went on to become a personal chef to Carrie Fisher, Barbra Streisand, and others, and penned her first book, The Art of Tofu, in 1997. The beautiful people still line up for what Richmond modestly calls her "clean, organic, artisan, sustainable, and authentic" dishes, which rely on simple, fresh ingredients like organic ginger-honey syrup from a friend's farm in Costa Rica and the best olive oil from Tuscany. The result: such wonders as crispy shiitake pot stickers and Billy Bob Thornton's favorite, carrot cake made with spelt flour. One of Richmond's latest creations was an African-style high tea for a benefit hosted by Pierce Brosnan. It was equal parts brilliant execution and kitchen confidentialwhich, along with her cooking, is what gives her staying power in this fickle city. "I don't gossip to Star Magazine about my clients," Richmond says. "Hollywood is too small a town."