Independence Day, Paws Up Style

Our annual 4th of July celebration was once again a stunning success, -thanks to our fun-loving, creative guests, our hard-working staff and of course another beautiful Montana summer evening.   The evening starts out with the buggy parade from the Wilderness Outpost to the Cookshack.    The competition seems to get tougher and tougher every year as our guests try to outdo one another to have the most festive and creative (sometimes a little too creative) decorated Mountain Buggy or Greenough Clean Machine in hopes of taking home the coveted “Best Buggy Award” –think of the bragging rights at the yacht club or boardroom when you bring that baby home!   The buggies in this year’s parade included the Uncle Sam buggy complete with marching Statue of Liberty’s and multiple Uncle Sam’s , a 4th of July Montana-Style buggy and the ultimate winner, a Greenough Clean Machine transformed in to a glamping tent complete with timber frame by the Cohn family.

Following the parade, the guests participated in traditional lawn games including sack races; pass the orange and the scandalous team event “eating a donut on a licorice rope”.   After a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by restaurant server, Beth Clausen, guests were invited to Chef Coffel’s Regional American BBQ.  Throughout the evening guests participated in scored activities including Sporting Clays, Fly Casting, Water Balloon slingshot, paint ball and archery.  The final competition of the evening was the world-famous pie eating contest and the West family’s showing in the top three enabled them to claim the top prize in the 4th of July Family Competition.

As dark settled on the Blackfoot Valley, guests gathered around the fire pit, the lawn and, in some cases, the bar to enjoy the fireworks display.  It was a great show and guests continue to be amazed at how impressive the fireworks show is year after year.

The guests loved the evening and many rebooked immediately for next year.  The competition for Best Buggy and Family Competition in 2010 promises to be even more intense than this year, so if you are joining us next year, get you game face on, you’re going to need it.

-Jim Nielsen

Happy New Year!

The New Year’s Eve festivities are in full swing – guests are enjoying dinner, games, conversation and of course, libations. Chef Wes’ menu is a big hit as usual, starting off with a fun amuse of a Lobster Corn Dog with Carrot Ketchup. As one guest told me, “you know you’re in a high-end place when the corn dogs are made from lobster”. Other highlights of the evening include an Oyster Sampler with Preserved Lemon & Whitefish Roe, Ahi & Passion Fruit-Truffle Vinaigrette, Cucumber & Champagne Mignonette; Squab Roulade with Foie Gras & Wild Rice Stuffed Cabbage, Minus 8 Vinegar; Marrow Bean Soup with Smoked Pork Won Ton; Seared Ahi with Ricotta Gnocchi, Fennel Purée, Olive Mousse and Poached Lobster with Celery Root-Potato Purée, Spinach, Black Truffle, Cognac Butter. After dinner it is off to the Tank & Trough for games, Texas hold’em, fireworks and music by Mudslide Charlie. If you haven’t experienced the beauty of a fireworks display reflecting off the snow on a crisp Montana New Year’s Eve, you just don’t know what you’re missing. As we approached midnight, the crowd grew more and more excited, not just in anticipation for the New Year, but also because one of our guests (who just happens to be a famous drummer) had joined the band for an awesome jam session. Midnight brought cheers, toasts and well wishes for new friends and old. The forecast calls for another six inches of snow tonight so 2009 will arrive in a fresh blanket of white. Happy New Year from all of us at Paws Up. Cheers.

– Jim Nielsen

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us at Paws Up. Christmas Eve was a beautiful day that found our guests basking in the sun while they played outside in our big backyard – ice skating, horseback riding, snowmobiling, tubing and dog sledding were the top draws. Christmas Eve evening brought our annual kid’s craft party where our younger guest made tree ornaments and decorated cookies – a little overindulgence of sugar just helps keep up the holiday spirit. The highlight of the evening was of course the visit from Papa Noel…Saint Nicholas…Father Christmas…Kris Kringle…Pere Noel, the head elf himself, Santa Claus!! Santa visited the kid’s party and then made his way to guest homes to deliver toys and good cheer. Here is a picture of me giving him some last minute instructions (and of course my last minute wish list – peace on earth, the end of the recession and my very own Rock’em, Sock’em Robots). Christmas Eve dinner was terrific, highlights included Seared Beef Tenderloin with Crispy Cheese Curds, Mustard Braised Kohlrabi, Onion Marmalade and tradition with a twist: Lacquered Goose Breast with Chestnut Stuffing, Delicata Squash, Maple, Broccoli.

Horse drawn sleigh and wagon rides have been popular all holiday season; here is a shot of our fine Norwegian Fjord team, Pete and Re-Pete. They have been busy every evening taking guests on rides through the homes.

Christmas Day brought fresh snow and cloudy weather, the perfect day to curl up in front of the fire and enjoy the company of the ones you love. Many of our guests did just that, while others spent the day checking off those activities they hadn’t had an opportunity to try yet. Dinner preparations are in full swing. Taking a look at the menu, I can’t wait to try the Roasted Elk Loin with Dried Cherry Porridge, Kohlrabi, Cherry Syrup and the Baked Montana – Huckleberry Ice Cream, Almond Cake, Meringue and Chocolate Huckleberry Sauce.

Happy Holidays from all of us at The Resort at Paws Up and best wishes for the New Year.

– Jim Nielsen

I Knew Him When…

When I called Bradley Ogden after 20 years I expected him to say, “who?” But, instead we had fun catching up about our time at Campton Place in the Eighties – a time when his culinary expertise was taking San Francisco by storm. After I departed Campton Place, Bradley’s fame sky-rocketed, though we suspect no connection here.

I followed his openings and successes, mostly from afar, only dining in one more of his great restaurants. When we were thinking about which chefs to invite to our 2008 Montana Master Chefs event, I told the rest of our team…”I know Bradley Ogden” and they all snickered. Okay, so I meant…”I knew him when he was just starting out” and, “yes that was 20 years ago, and no we had not stayed in touch!”

I called him anyway.

When we met in the reception barn on the first night of the event we exchanged warm hugs and kisses, then we wondered where 20 years had gone, denied that either of us had aged, began talking about the rest of the 80’s team at Campton Place, and eventually mingled with the other guests. It was so great to see him again…and just as wonderful to enjoy his masterful cooking two nights later.

Bradley’s infectious personality is only outdone by his abilities in the kitchen, and after 3 days of fun with him, twenty years felt like yesterday.

– Terre Short

Montana Master Chefs 2008

During my original stint at Paws Up, we introduced the Montana Master Chefs event to rave reviews and ecstatic guests. The timing of my return was impeccable as my first weekend back happened to be the 3rd annual Montana Master Chefs event. This years event was amazing, with Chef Bradley Ogden of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, the Resort’s own Wes Coffel as well as Bravo TV’s Top Chefs: Stephanie Izard and Casey Thompson. The Vintners were of equal stature with Richard & Anita Funk of Saviah Cellars, Cyril & Blakesley Chappellet of Chappellet Vineyard & Winery and Pete Przybylinski of Duckhorn Wine Company. One of my ‘tiresome’ tasks as GM is that my wife and I have to attend each and every dinner and are forced to consume great quantities of fine food and exceptional wine. The highlights, gastronomically speaking, of the event for me were Wes’ Roast Squab with Compressed Dixon Melon, the ’06 Duckhorn Merlot, Daniel’s Nova Scotia Lobster and his amazing dessert that paired so beautifully with Saviah’s ‘06 Une Vallée Walla Walla Valley Red Wine, and Bradley’s Short Rib & Veal Sweetbreads with the ‘05 Chappellet Signature Cabernet.

I also had the opportunity to again, be the MC for The Top Chef Cook Off Challenge. This year’s competition featured a Montana Master Chefs first, the guest challenge. Matt and Teresa McCarty faced off in Battle Short Ribs, with Top Chef’s Stephanie and Casey acting as Sous Chefs. Matt ended up victorious in this “battle of the bungalow”. Casey and Stephanie then squared off in Battle Pheasant, after a scare where they thought they were being given live birds, they were presented with pheasant breasts and the twenty-minute battle ensued. Stephanie was named the winner in this hard-fought contest. Both Matt and Stephanie will be back to defend their titles in ’09.

For more information on this year’s event as well as past years, please see, we hope to see you in 2009.

– Jim Nielsen