After much anticipation, the snow has finally arrived in The Blackfoot Valley! We have 6-8 inches on the ground now and anticipate much more in the coming weeks. In fact, the extended forecast is predicting a White Christmas! We’re hoping that this much snow and the very chilly temperatures will bring the snow geese by on their migration. They came by last year, so we hope they make an annual pilgrimage to Paws Up. I love this time of year at The Resort. As I type this, I’m looking out the window of my office across our expansive meadow and up to the Scapegoat and Mission Mountains–all blanketed by white. I can’t wait to get out on a snowmobile and out of the office.
Christmas is only a week away and we’re ready. We can’t wait to celebrate the holidays with our guests. Santa’s on his way…and we’ll make sure he leaves on time to deliver presents to the rest of the world. Last year, we caught him relaxing with his feet up in a Big Timber Home, and had to remind him that he had many more places to go. We also found his reindeer flirting with the ladies of our resident elk herd. It won’t happen again. We promise.
Greetings from frosty Montana. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” around here; trees, lights, and decorations abound and the ice skating rink looks ready for a triple-sowkow. The forecast is for continued cold weather and snow, so we are all looking forward to a “White Christmas”.
Some great news for all of you foodies out there, we have our first feature chef and vintner for Montana Master Chefs 2009. Texas’ own, Kent Rathbun of Abacus, Jasper’s and Shinsei Restaurants will join us fresh off his defeat of Iron Chef Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America.
Our first vintner on the books is the renowned winemaker and owner, John Williams of Frog’s Leap Winery. This landmark Napa Valley winery has consistently produced world-class wines and has the best motto in the wine business: “Time’s fun when you’re having flies” and the only cork that says Ribbit! when you uncork the bottle. We are off to a great start and the soon-to-be-announced chefs and vintners are equally as impressive.
All you fans of Bravo TV’sTop Chef, keep an eye on this season’s competition from New York. One of the competitors will face off against Stephanie Izard, the winner of The Top Chef Cook Off Challenge from Montana Master Chefs 2008 in MMC ’09. Who will it be? Stay tuned.
The Wheels on the Bus Go ‘round and ‘round…as the carbon footprint goes down and down….
This past summer at the Resort at Paws Up we began looking even more closely at our carbon “evil ways,” and made many adjustments. Perhaps the one that carried the biggest unexpected punch was the purchase of a school bus.
We paid $5000 for a bus in excellent shape, and quickly found the most colorful and fun driver in all of Montana. On the first day that “Dale”, the driver, loaded the bus with 12 employees they all left the resort singing out the windows.
His ridership very quickly grew to an average of 30 employees per day, though I suspect the singing waned and more iPods joined the commute. Dale picked his riders up daily in Missoula, Montana and drove them 35 miles to the Resort in Greenough–located in the heart of the Blackfoot Valley.
Not only did all of the riders save on gas, but we only paid $50 per day in diesel, plus Dale’s time….and the collective footprint of the Resort was reduced greatly. Just one of many efforts the Resort is making to contribute to “The Greening of Greenough”.
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.
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 www.montanamasterchefs.com, we hope to see you in 2009.
Welcome to The Last Best Blog and our little slice of Montana.For those of you I haven’t met, I am the recently appointed General Manager of the Resort.My predecessor, Terre Short accepted the role of Managing Director for our company, which allowed me this tremendous opportunity.Terre’s day-to-day involvement in the Resort will be somewhat lessened, but she is still actively involved in the strategic planning and overall direction of our operation.
While I may be the new General Manager, this isn’t my first time to this rodeo.I was the opening Food and Beverage Director for the Resort in 2005, became the Assistant General Manger soon after and remained in that role until 2007.I left Montana for a short time to be the GM of a resort in the mountains of Colorado, until I was swayed back to try to fill Terre’s shoes.
We are pleased to share with you a more intimate and personal view of The Resort at Paws Up: The Last Best Blog. We have always been committed to innovating, and with this blog, we have become one of the few luxury resorts to commit to this level of communication with our guests. While you’re not here, we pledge to keep you updated on such things as our staff, our cuisine, our wilderness adventures, our homes, and most importantly, our desire to see you again! We ask you to join us as we take you through a spectacular journey brought to you by the staff at Paws Up.