Executive Chefs aim to revamp resorts menu
November 15, 2006
Art is often associated with molding and manipulating materials to imitate something in nature, or, a creation of something wondrously new and complex. The images often inspire some and repel others.
The definition of art is ambiguous. Nevertheless, each object has an affect on at least on of the senses.
Cooking, can stimulate all of them.
For many chefs, their daily work is an art form.
"It definitely an art," said Joe Trevino, who was recently hired as the new executive chef at The Canyons Grand Summit Hotel.
"It’s a really good career to get in, especially if you are an artist," said Sebastian Lizarzaburu, who was just hired as the new executive chef for the on-mountain dining at The Canyons Resorts.
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Both chefs were hired to revamp the resort’s culinary offerings. Their artistic talents played a large part in landing their positions.
"I enjoy coming up with unique recipes using local and regional ingredients and culinary techniques," said Lizarzaburu, a 36-year-old who has been cooking since he was 15. "It’s all about the arts, the taste of every dish that I put out and creating beautiful plates."
Since he started as a pantry cook at the Sundance Resort, Lizarzaburu never wanted to leave the kitchen.
I wanted to be a dentist, but I watched these chefs put together these beautiful plates and I realized I had a passionate for it. I was in love with the field," Lizarzaburu said.
Trevino started cooking after he left the Marines in 1995. A family friend needed help in his restaurant and Trevino offered to cook. He soon found a new passion.
"It was purely by accident," Trevino said. "I found that I was pretty good at it and I had a natural talent for it. The creative end of it started to come out in me. Mixing new ingredients and new things that I discovered, that’s what I really got excited about."
He found a similar fervor for cooking that other chefs have learned.
"I’ve never considered myself an artsy person before," Trevino said. "But, putting flavors together is art."
Trevino’s philosophy is finding a balance in his foods. Part of his art is "knowing what flavors fit together and making sure they come together as one, instead of battling against each other," he said.
In Trevino’s "balance" philosophy, he also considers the culture and the location of where he cooks.
"A lot of people will do a lot of contrast," he said. "They are pulling from Asia and France and trying to co-mingle on one single dish and it doesn’t fit."
After gaining executive chef experience at hotels in Arizona and Florida, Trevino said he learned to use the most of what each area has to offer.
"I make sure that it fits in the element," Trevino said. "I think of food that fits, maybe the history behind the place, whether it’s Native American or Southwestern influence or mountain man with a wild game influence."
He won’t shy away from ethnic cuisines but he says he makes sure each dish is focused on where it’s from and has an identity.
"I pull from cooking styles that I’ve developed over the years," Trevino said. "Wherever I work, I work with those ingredients, but in my style."
Some signature items he is bringing in include tempura batter red trout. The meat is inverted toward the tail and stands up on the plate, stuffed with chanterelle mushrooms and wild leeks, served on top of sundried artichoke puree. Trevino is also doing a sugar and spice venison served with farm smoked cheddar grits and a hominy succotash with an espresso glaze.
We are definitely trying to use the influences of mountain cruising with my little twist," Trevino said. "I’ve done some fine dining, so we are stepping it up, trying to elevate dinner to an all-new high.
Lizarzaburu, who was born in Santiago, Chile, has made his cooking mark in many of the Utah resorts. He has worked on and off for The Canyons, and most recently cooked at Snowbird.
"I’ve been working with Steve Huntsberger (vice president of mountain food and beverage) and I have a relationship that goes back for 10 years and he was trying to get me back for five years now. Steve finally found a home for me at the Canyons."
Lizarzaburu’s resume is filled with a varied background and skills. He’s catered for people at the Sundance Film Festival and he’s been the chef at the E-Center and catered to musicians. He’s been involved with the Epicureans group and opened up the Barking Frog restaurant in Salt Lake.
He worked with Chef Joseph Mulligan at Sundance and worked with Chef Todd Mark Miller who helped open the Barking Frog. During his time, he has received awards.
"We have an award-winning "Best on Mountain Dining" two years in a row with Ski Magazine. We have an award winning crab and tuna stuffed tempura sushi roll."
During his off-and-on work with The Canyons, he helped develop "The Canyons’ smoked salmon chowder."
"I came up with the recipe and we took it to Campbell’s, now they make it for us," Lizarzaburu said.
Lizarzaburu wants to bring more award-winning culinary delights to The Canyons. Some of the new meals he is bringing are a kurabuta pork chop served with whole-grain mustard and tomato confit, a bone-in beef tenderloin served with truffle and goat cheese waffles with a maple thyme jus, and a crab and asparagus quesadilla. They are continuing some popular items like the Colby beef burger, served with yellow tomato ketchup and three-onion marmalade, served on a toasted artisan bun.
"What I want to do is eventually make it more of a global perspective of on mountain dining. The cuisine that I chose is a hand-crafted mountain cuisine."
He also faces some unique challenges in bringing his food to the mountain.
"We run into a lot of challenges getting food up here. Being at 9,000 feet and being able to serve a piece of seared foie grois served with peach lavender jam and walnut toast, if you can pull that off at 9,000 feet, that’s unique in itself," Lizarzaburu said.
He believes to develop a global reputation, the team needs to develop good chemistry.
"I’ll be working with other chefs," Lizarzaburu said. "I’m constantly learning from others and at the same time learning to coach and mold the culinary team into one of the best in Park City. I’m always volunteering to do charitable events and help out in any area to inspire young chefs to exceed in their careers."
Trevino also adopts a mentoring approach with the lodge.
"The big part is teaching my staff," Trevino said. "I take them under my wing and teach them everything I know. They benefit and I benefit. We’d like to really develop the mentor program."
Through teaching, Trevino said it will enhance diner’s experience at The Canyons.
"It’s definitely bringing it to a new level," Trevino said. "I was hired on to improve the food making it four- star if not five-star quality. I’m looking forward to the ski season and what’s going to be a new and improved Cabin at the Canyons."
The Canyons Resort is the largest single ski and snowboard resort in Utah and one of the largets in the United States. The Canyons offers 3,700 acres of diverse terrain over eight separate mountains, accessing more than 150 trails. For more information on the resorts and dining, visit http://www.thecanyons.com or call 615-3308.