Chefs gather for chefs’ sake |

Chefs gather for chefs’ sake

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

In the winter they bang out dozens of orders by the hour, prepping and preparing, balancing the dishwasher’s load with produce shipments and the "could-you-hold-the-mayo?" or the "add-a-sprig-of-parsley" dishes and all within a reasonable time, delivering it to the table hot.

For Park City’s executive chefs, it all comes to a boil for five months of the year, when the snow falls and lodging numbers surge and businesses stay open into the wee hours.

Luckily, many of these highly pressured cuisiniers have understanding partners who know the drill, waiting for the seven months after the snow melts and the big rush subsides.

"In the winter, we try to do everything together as much as we can watch movies together, read together — but chefs don’t have time to come home and cook dinner and relax," explains Laura, wife of Jean-Louis Montecot, who runs a 17-month-old eponymous restaurant on lower Main Street. "We don’t have that, but we’re trained for that. Jean Louis and I have been together for 21 years."

Autumn is the calm before the storm, when Jean Louis takes the opportunity to spend quality time with his children on a trip and perhaps, if he is so moved, to whip up something to eat for his family now and again.

Sunday in Bear Hallow, Montecot was moved to cook a family-style feast in this off-season extending the invitation to all Park City chefs: filet with a wild mushroom medley and pesto cream sauce, Pappardelle pasta with a poutanesca tomato sauce, followed by fresh berries over vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.

The idea was to provide an excuse to mingle and meet partners, spouses and neighbors — an event Montecot plans to hold annually with the intention to create a kitchen community as the popularity of town explodes and the number of restaurants surpasses 100.

"Some chefs don’t know each other and it’s sad to have that in a small town such as this," Montecot explains above the sprightly murmur at the hors d’oeuvre countertop during the event. "Sometimes a dishwasher won’t show up at 5 p.m. What do you think you gonna do? The cook is gonna get upset because there are no plates and it’s just gonna snowball. You gotta call the chef across the street."

Montecot, who has cooked in Park City for six years, including nearly five years as executive chef at the Goldener Hirsch, says Park City chefs may continue to sustain healthy rivalries in the future, but within that competition it’s always a blessing to have a few friends.

"When you’re packed, you’re packed there’s only so much you can do," he concludes. "I would rather be next to someone who is busy. It’s only going to help me out."

Montecot points to the relationship he developed with Scott Boberek, when Boberek served as executive chef for Bistro Toujours, across the street from the Goldener Hirsch Inn. Coincidentally, the two chefs are looking forward to sharing the same camaraderie in December, when Boberek will oversee three restaurants Easy Street Brasserie, Easy Street Bakery and the new all-seafood cuisine Fin restaurant — at the Sky Lodge that faces Montecot’s restaurant on Heber Avenue.

"When we were short, we used to share guys we’d agree: ‘You got him in the day, I got him in the night’ Now we’re going to be back in the same boat, across the street from each other," confirms Boberek.

One of the issues Boberek hopes chefs will band together on is the necessity for affordable housing as new hotels like the St. Regis Hotel and The Montage open in the near future. Until then, he submits, there might be a shortage of service workers that could hamper the restaurant business.

Among the gourmet elite in attendance at Montecot’s banquet were 350 Main Executive Chef Michael LeClerc and Good Karma co-owner Houman Gohary, who surprised everyone with a classical guitar serenade during coffee and digestifs.

Gohary, the first executive chef to supervise The Canyons Resort’s kitchens, recites a staggering factoid: Park City has more restaurants per square foot than Paris, the world’s cuisine Mecca.

"This resort town and the way the town is built, with only one major way to go in town and out of town, the capture ratio for restaurants is 100 percent," he explains, confessing that the attraction for chefs to Park City also has a lot to do with lifestyle. "I’ve worked in Dubai, Barcelona, Osaka, and I moved here from San Francisco, but once you move to the mountains, you don’t want to leave it keeps you young," he says.

As a chef, Gohary considers the first annual chefs’ banquet not as much as a chance to meet friends as it is an example of Montecot’s commitment to the community at large.

"It’s always better to have friends than enemies that’s a given, but what Jean Louis is doing is about appreciation and respect," Gohary explains. "I think Jean Louis doesn’t do it for friendship; he’s just always trying to give back. That’s what he’s all about."

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