Summer brings change to Wasatch Brew Pub
At 18 years old, Shane Baird was spending whatever free time he had while studying at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont crossing the Canadian border an hour away to have fun in Montreal. He has visited many more countries since then during his career, making his way back home to Utah as the new executive chef of Squatters and Wasatch Brew Pubs.
Baird has worked under world-renowned chefs, including Yann Plassard at La Fleur de Sel in France, Martin Berastegui in Spain, Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas and most recently Jean-Georges Vongerichten at J&G Grill at the St. Regis Deer Valley Resort as the Chef de Cuisine.
"I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, so food is a big thing. It’s a pretty big culture there," he said. "For me, [being a chef] is something you can go anywhere and do, so I was able to travel the world and work with really great chefs."
Squatters and Wasatch Brew Pubs have released a new summer menu that Baird helped create with his self-described simply elegant "comfort American" style of cooking.
"I love the classics, so I’m not afraid to do mac ‘n cheese, but I also love a really good burger," he said. "Obviously I’ve worked for the world’s top chefs, but at home last night, I grilled up a piece of salmon and some zucchini from my garden and a couple tomatoes and parmesan and that was it."
The menu Baird has helped cook up features a wide range of cuisine, from chicken wings to steaks to "adult milkshakes." One of the milkshakes features Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Porter and High West Whiskey. burning off the alcohol making it into a base, Baird creates a milkshake and then floats it with the whiskey.
Working with High West Distillery on some of the menu items is something Baird said he is more than happy to do. He enjoys supporting local businesses as well as using local ingredients. At the "Party on the Patio" introduction of Chef Baird, several of the new dishes were available to taste.
Baird put a twist on traditional macaroni and cheese by adding in caramelized onions, peppers and sliced jalapeños. There were also whiskey salt tater tots with tomatillo sauce to drizzle over them, a grilled chicken salad with bleu cheese, carrots and tomatoes and "The Guy" pulled pork sliders with cole slaw on top. All are featured on the summer menu.
Wasatch Brew Pub also introduced its new "beer-tails" with the help of employee Melissa McKenna. Her job, she said, was to see which ones people enjoyed most.
The Belgian Fortune is a mix of Apple Jack Whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup and Wasatch Brewery’s White Label Belgian white beer. The Schirf Shandy, named to honor Wasatch Brew Pub founder Greg Schirf, contains Bulleit Bourbon, lemon juice, limoncello and Wasatch Brewery’s Provo Girl Pilsener beer. The third beer-tail featured gin, a violet liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and Wasatch Brewery’s Ghost Rider India Pale Ale.
"They’re all a combination of taking a cocktail and adding a beer to it, so it’s kind of an artisan cocktail, which is really popular right now," McKenna said. "We’re going to see which ones make the final cut for the summer menu, but we definitely will be featuring more beer-tails on there."
Wasatch Brew Pub took the opportunity to unveil the new labels and packaging of their beers, something Baird said he is excited to be a part of.
"It’s been an interesting path, and I’m glad to be here now," he said. "I have great people to support me here, and I’m passionate about using local and sustainable ingredients. So it’s a perfect home here."
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