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The Wort Hotel

Published in Chef Notes, Jackson Hole News & Guide, January 11, 2012
Chef Scott Rutter
The Wort Hotel

The Wort Hotel’s Famous Corn Chowder

¼ lb bacon
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 c fresh corn
1 c white wine
1T minced garlic
½ t dill
½ t thyme
Flour to thicken
2 T chicken soup base or bouillon powder
2 qt water
12 red potatoes quartered and par cooked
¼ to ½ c heavy cream
White pepper and salt to taste

Cook bacon slowly until crisp, drain and crumble.  To bacon pan, add crumbled bacon, veggies, wine, garlic, dill, thyme, and cook until tender.  Add flour and cook while stirring well. Do not brown.  Add chicken base and water and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes and cook until tender.  Add heavy cream until desired consistency.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Dish hot chowder into individual oven-safe crocks, add croutons and top with cheddar slices and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Place in oven or under a broiler to melt and brown cheese.

Chowder can be made a day or two in advance and kept refrigerated. Omit the cream, then add to soup as you re-heat.

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For some reason it’s too easy to overlook the Wort. We live in this town. We take it for granted. The Wort Hotel is a treasure of hospitality. It took me  almost forever to get there even after I heard and read that a stellar new executive chef arrived last summer.

Our dinner one recent evening was dazzling. Chef Scott Rutter produces bold cuisine carefully prepared and beautifully presented. This is a man who takes his work seriously and yet has an affable way about him.

Rutter was brought up in State College, Pennsylvania where his father was a professor. He tells his story with a rapid-paced enthusiasm that left me unsure if I can piece it together with any accuracy. There’s an excitement about Rutter that is infectious.

Working hard seems part of Rutter’s make up. As part of the ski patrol at the local Tussey Mountain on weekends, he became captain during his teen years. Besides school and nine years working at Duffy’s Tavern there, he did catering at the ski mountain.

Education created an about turn in his life. He was accepted at the architectural school at the university, then changed directions. Rutter seems  quite proud that his work ethic, earned scholarships and work study program coupled with his father’s position on faculty allowed him to complete his college education in three and a half years for $873.

Rutter’s early classical training sounds like torture with hours and months of precision knife work and repetitive drills, torment from the Old School Chefs, and yet it pushed his skill levels to the peak. The love of skiing and mountains drew him to Vail’s 5 diamond, 5 star Cascade Resort & Spa for the winter of 1999 when the World Championships were held there.

His mentor chef, Jesse Llapitan, worked with his crew to create Chaps, a highly successful concept restaurant built around the appetites of skiiers after a hard day’s exercise.

It was Llapitan who inspired Rutter to return to Colorado Mountain College to acquire credentials in nutrition and as a teacher. “Nutrition school is where my integrity of myself as a chef changed,” Rutter shared. He is both a Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator in the American Culinary Federation.

Returning to his family’s favorite vacation spot on the Carolina coast, Rutter took on the mission of executive chef at The Cypress Club Hilton Head Plantation. The 1800 member residential club caters to an elite clientele of specialized needs and the elderly. He founded a program of intricately detailed work and deep caring. The work was both inspiring and heartbreaking, as all end of live care can be. The chef departed from his beloved crew and their Chapel on the Hill when a change of ownership brought about abrupt changes he found disrespectful to the members.

In 2006 Rutter almost came to JH Mountain Resort, but then the St. Regis Resort in Aspen beckoned him. While putting on a $12,000 a plate celebrity benefit there he made the connections that led to being a host, assistant producer, and consultant on Top Chef.

Rutter has worked with Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine, famed chefs Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali and Todd English. He’s won multiple competitions in the National Ice Carving Association including making an ice bar in Squaw Valley from 60,348 pound blocks of ice.

Our server, Ben, who has been at the Silver Dollar Grill for a couple years shared that since Rutter’s arrival diners are happier, return frequently and tips are better. That speaks for itself.

Our experience with what Rutter describes as mountain eclectic cuisine was a delightful time. We started our repast with two starters. The seared wasabi encrusted ahi was accompanied by ponzu sauce and a mango relish. Yum! The grilled Bruschetta with buffalo mozzarella was topped with tomato basil tapenade, fig balsamic, basil oil and spiral cut golden beets. The texture was tantalizing and the taste was, indeed, bold. It made my favorite cousin sit up and take notice. The house bread is a heady loaf with whole garlic cloves baked into the dough.

Next we were treated to the chef’s award-winning smoked pheasant soup with firecracker roasted corn, pumpkin seed infused oil and sweet potato hay. We shared the remains the next day and once again marveled at the complexity of delicious rich flavors, plus textures both crunchy and smooth. Add a salad and it would easily serve as a meal.

To our delight we sampled several entrees. Each aspect of the plates was cooked to perfection. The delicate sea bass was served with coconut infused rice and pea pods. Marinated cedar plank salmon was accompanied by a molasses smoked au jus, wild rice and green beans.

We thoroughly enjoyed the basil encrusted Rocky Mountain lamb with fragrant mint laden jelly and couscous. We had much discussion about the merits of the rosemary garlic rubbed buffalo filet with balsamic compound butter and Yukon Gold whipped potatoes versus the Angus beef filet with gorgonzola sage compound butter, red wine demi-glace and Peruvian purple mashed potatoes. They were both superlative. It may be the compelling taste mix of blue cheese and red meat that puts the beef over the top.

Dessert is so problematic – delightful and never necessary. The new mixed berry cobbler was satisfying. The presentation of the S’mores platter with the little flaming cast iron pot burning on our table like a camp fire was a total treat. I melted one and took it home to my mom. I think my cousin ate three. We wished her kids were with us.

 

Spoons Bistro

Published in Chef Notes, Jackson Hole News & Guide, July 13, 2011
Shared by Chef /Owner Travis Brittingham
Spoons Bistro

 

Spaghetti of Zucchini

One Serving

12 oz         zucchini

2 cloves garlic

1 T sun-dried tomato oil

¼ oz fresh basil

2 oz         parmesan

2 garlic toasts (1/8 baguette, 1 T garlic oil)

Trim the zucchini on both ends, cut where the stem stops and shave the blossom end. Julienne the zucchini on a mandolin or cut by hand. Slice the garlic paper thin, starting from the tip and discarding the root. Core the tomatoes, remove the seeds and chop roughly. Julienne the basil.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat, add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down. Add the garlic and sweat for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini and cook until al dente. Add the basil and toss to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in a warmed bowl topped with shaved parmesan and garlic toasts on the side.

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The lush Austrian Copper rose bush blooming adjacent to our parking place put me in a festive mood even before I stepped inside the door of Spoons Bistro in Victor. It’s a welcoming dining room, and yet on a perfect summer night we chose the front deck for our seating. The wafting aroma of Three Little Pigs from the smoker nearby certainly hypnotized us. Too bad those piggies wouldn’t be ready until the next day.

Chef Travis Brittingham’s note on the menu states, “I’m sorry to say that the pigs have gone to a design conference and will be returning soon.” That shows just a little bit about his level of spunk. This ambitious young chef is driven toward perfection. He’s going to work hard and have fun inventing both himself and some delicious food every step of the way. The pigs, as described on the menu could make anyone’s mouth water: Confit pork belly, pulled pork, SofaKingGood BBQ Sauce™ & house coleslaw with 460° bacon bread.

Brittingham prides himself on being self-taught. A stint in the army that took him from his Delaware roots to Arlington, Virginia proved influential. As he told me, “I wouldn’t have passed up that opportunity. It gave me my attention to detail. Maybe 99% of the people won’t notice. It’s that one person that counts. I’m going to put in the effort because someone will notice.” (more…)

The Garage

Published in Chef Notes, Jackson Hole News & Guide, June 29, 2011
Shared by Chef /Owner Michael Burke
The Garage

 

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

8 oz          bread pieces

3 c         whipping cream

1 c         whole milk

1 c         white chocolate

7         egg yolks

2         eggs

½ c         sugar

melted butter

Mix the whipping cream, milk and sugar in a large stainless steel pot over medium heat. Add the chocolate to the mix and stir until melted and smooth. In a stainless bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks then add them slowly into the chocolate mix.

The bread pieces need to be placed in a baking pan with sides such as a loaf cake pan, brushed with butter and baked at 250° until golden and crispy. This may be done ahead of time. Pour half the chocolate mix over the brad pieces. Press the bread down into the liquid mix. Add the remainder and let rest for 15 minutes before baking at 350° for 45 minutes covered with foil. Pull the foil and bake until golden, about 10 minutes more. Refrigerate after cooling.

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The Garage was the original Chevy dealership owned by mayor Harold Livingston decades ago. It occupied the curved front building at the corner of Pearl and Glenwood. It had been through several incarnations as a restaurant since the 1970’s before Michael and Laura Burke completed a remodel that honored the edifice, opening Burke’s Chop House in 2004.

Now is the right time for a bit of a change and The Garage is that change. The new environment is not very different. It’s just a bit more relaxed and as appealing as ever. The look incorporates some of the auto memorabilia they found inside the walls during their initial remodel into their design theme. It’s fun to see old car doors, hub caps and license plates.

It has a younger look and attitude, and new menu offerings for more casual dining. I may miss the succulent beef Wellington they did so well, the nice thick chops and yet we really didn’t go for the high end meal all that often. I may be stopping in there more. There certainly are many delicious reasons.

My favorite spicy rolls with peanut sauce remain as a starter, as do the colossal onion rings with chipotle dip, and French onion soup. Three cheese and a nightly pizza special have been added. Stuffed BBQ potato skins and sliders of buffalo, beef and crab sound tempting. Starting this week there will be happy hour drink specials and additional daily appetizers from 5 to 7. (more…)

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