Deer Valley prepares to impress with culinary offerings
Anybody who spends a lot of time skiing in Park City will probably hear it at one point or another.
"Deer Valley is all about the food."
While that saying might obscure the Daly Chutes and plenty of great tree skiing, it does speak to what is regarded as one of the resort’s greatest strengths.
"I hear that saying as well," said Julie Wilson, Deer Valley Resort’s food and beverage manager. "It’s just positive feedback for us."
Deer Valley is home to 10 on-mountain restaurants, with six operating during the day and four operating in the evening. They range from the rustic Fireside dining at Empire Lodge to the elegant Mariposa and include at least a few opportunities for a quick, simple lunch-time burger.
But the focus is on quality.
"It’s a 25-year culture we’ve all grown-up with," said Wilson, who has been with the resort since its 1980 inception.
"Ever since we started 25 years ago," she said, "food has always been of the utmost importance."
This year’s menus feature several new items created by the resort’s two executive chefs Jodie Rogers (overseeing the Snow Park Lodge and Empire Canyon restaurants) and Clark Norris (supervising Silver Lake Lodge) and the resort’s executive pastry chef, Letty Flatt, a 24-year veteran of the mountain who began there with two years on the Ski Patrol.
The new items include Hamachi Brulee, with small, light, slightly-seared yellowtail fillets and a orange-ginger glaze, and proscuitto-wrapped ahi tuna, which forms a light but still very buttery bite, with just a hint of acidity from a small piece of tomato concasse. Those two small items (no more than two bites) are found at the Mariposa and the Seafood Buffet, respectively, and they form only the beginning of the new selections.
"We really just try to stay up with what’s healthy around the culinary world," said Wilson, "what’s new."
Among the other new items are "Sablefish Fire and Ice," a dish served at the Seafood Buffet featuring two pieces of sablefish, one cooked in a half-inch-thick salt crust, which is broken open to reveal the moist fish inside, and another piece fried golden. The latter is the "fire," while the former, served with a frozen Sofia champagne that complements the light fish, is the "ice."
A Royal Street Caf dish, grilled tuna tacos, is simpler with a single three-inch-long grilled piece of tuna, a taco shell and assorted toppings but also more substantial and perhaps among the lighter, richer tacos one can find.
For a heavier dish, there is the fire roasted lamb offered at the Fireside Dining. A perfect pairing with a Cabernet or for the non-"Sideways" fans a Merlot, the dish is reminiscent of a dinner cooked as a Swiss chalet and, undoubtedly forms a pretty picture next to the fire.
In addition to those new items, the Mariposa will also offer a $25 tasting menu in celebration of Deer Valley’s 25th anniversary, and the resort has commissioned a series of wines from the Humanitas Wine Company, including a Cabernet Savignon, a Merlot, and a Chardonnay special to Deer Valley.
"We worked with [Humanitas founder and owner] Judd Wallenbach to get a nice European-style chardonnay that would go well with the food," said Wilson.
The wines are also significant, she noted, because the winery donates the profits from its sales to charity a trademark of the Humanitas Wine Company.
Before the ski season even starts, guests will have a chance to taste the Deer Valley cuisine with a the resort’s annual Nouveau Beaujolais Festival this weekend. Wilson said that, as always, the meal will include a cassoulet and crawfish, along with authentic Burgundian cheeses to match the young wines. This year, the menu will also include some new items as well quail and frog legs.
"Then the pastry chefs go wild with their desserts," said Wilson.
She noted the significance of the event, with the wines released Thursday in central France and then available on Sunday.
"It’s a festival that’s known world-wide," she said.
And the important part, she added, is the food, a variety of specialties right at home in Burgundy like the Beaujolais. But the wine, according to Wilson, is just a part of the story.
"The Beaujolais," she said, there’s nothing fancy about that It’s all about fun, the Beaujolais."
So, Wilson said, the guests can count on an enjoyable evening of food and wine and a pre-Thanksgiving gastronomical celebration.
The quality, she noted, goes back to 1980, in the beginning, when Edgar Stern founded the resort aiming to match luxury accommodations with Wasatch powder.
"It’s really about the Deer Valley culture," said Wilson, "and what we started out doing."
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