“I take pride in offering a product where all parties work hard to produce a great steak.”
Chef de Cuisine at Timberline Grill
1. What do you like about Aspen Ridge Beef?
I love being able to offer a local, natural program that is sustainable. Natural is such a chore from the ground up, with such close attention being paid towards the animal, and it is a huge investment for the rancher. I have been serving a full line up of Aspen Ridge Beef on our menu since September of 2016, and I take pride in offering a product where all parties work hard to produce a great steak.
2. How is Natural Beef different than other beef?
Not only does natural beef give chefs the ability to offer a much thicker cut, the moisture retention makes it so much more tender. Not to mention that the flavor is so intense and doesn't dissipate off your palate as you chew. The feedback (from customers) has been great!
3. Why is offering Natural Beef on your menu important to you?
I believe that it has become a way of life for many people. We pay a lot more attention now to where our food comes from and want food that is natural and sustainable. Knowing that your product is coming from right down the road is a good feeling.Read more
4. What Aspen Ridge cuts of beef do you use?
We exclusively offer Aspen Ridge on our complete line of beef. We carry a bone-in, 22-oz ribeye, flat iron steak, filet mignon, top cap sirloin, single bone-in short rib, and our pride … a USDA prime NY strip steak. We have all of our cuts aged a minimum of 35 days.
5. How do you like to prepare those cuts?
My favorite way is au poivre. We peppercorn crust the beef, sear hard in a French steel sauté pan and roast in the pan. Then, we add a Colorado twist while the steak is resting. We deglaze the pan with Breckinridge Bourbon, shallot, green peppercorn, and reduce au sec. Next, we add a bit of demi glacé and a touch of cream. The contrast of the sweet, sour and savory is a true delight, especially with the buttery finish of the Aspen Ridge.
6. How does Aspen Ridge beef compare to other premium (Upper 2/3 Choice & Prime) programs?
The consistency in size of the primal—not pumping cow up with all the hormones—really makes a difference. The industry as of late has just been trying to get the most of each cow. The muscle on an Aspen Ridge is smaller, giving me the opportunity to offer a very nice thick NY strip and ribeye steak, and the filet sits nice and tall giving a great plate presence. I really like how the cows are still finished on corn, making the marbling (on even the choice cuts) very present. And, it has a great buttery finish that lasts on your palate.
7. Besides a traditional steak (NY strip, ribeye, filet, etc.), what’s your favorite cut of Aspen Ridge beef to prepare?
So far, my favorite preparation is corned beef. I brined a brisket for 10 days and then sous vide at a low temperature for 48 hours. It was a lot of fun to make an old-world preparation in with modern technology. Turning that into a corn beef hash for a VIP brunch got a great response.
8. What’s the perfect doneness (rare, medium, etc.) and why?
It really depends on the steak. For a filet mignon, for example, I prefer closer to medium where the proteins are firmer and is still very juicy but gives the steak some texture. On a NY strip, I prefer medium-rare; the protein is just starting to firm up, and the texture is amazing, especially with an age of 35 plus days. The most important thing to me on a steak, though, is a good char; the caramelization of the proteins and natural sugars in the steak creates a flavorful crust that makes your mouth water. Most importantly, proper aging truly brings out the flavor and true textures in a steak. Letting the steak relax and the cell structures start to break down makes the steak tender and really enhances the flavor of a steak.
9. How would you describe your cooking style?
I really enjoy creating dishes that have a very home feel; food that people can relate to without wondering what it is they are getting after they order the dish. I was trained in classic French cuisine, and I feel that I use the basic fundamentals in everything I make. I love experimenting with new concepts and recipes but take pride in making the basic, or “old school”, dishes. We are never going to reinvent the wheel, and every time I think I have made an original, Google is right there to prove me wrong.
10. What influences/inspires you and your cooking style?
The guests inspire me. All of our lives revolve around food; it’s one of our most basic needs, next to oxygen. I really enjoy being able to take part in peoples’ celebrations, whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or even a proposal. It is very satisfying to know that I’m contributing to peoples’ happiest memories.
11. What are your top 3 to 5 tips or suggestions you’d give novice cooks or cooks at home?
If you are going to cook a steak at home, first pull it out the fridge about an hour before you cook it. This will let it loosen up and retain more moisture throughout the cooking process. Second, make sure your grill is nice and hot. That char on the outside is the best part and really enhances the flavor. Before you cut into it, let it rest; the juices are moving around inside the steak and need to settle down. If you cut right away, all of the juices will purge out immediately, leaving your meal dry and tough.
12. What’s your favorite ingredient?
Salt and pepper. With all of the options out there today, I really like to let the food speak for itself. I search for fresh quality ingredients and have no problem paying for it. I really like to prepare food simply and let the natural flavors of a product shine.
13. What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The challenge. The doors to the establishment open at 5:00 daily regardless if you are prepared or not. The customer does not care for excuses and expects the best out of you every time. You have to have a true passion to operate day in and day out; there is no place for complacency or short cuts. I enjoy helping my team grow and develop their skills. It is a very satisfying job, but it is definitely not for everybody. For instance, I think that I would go crazy if I were forced to sit behind a desk.
Chef de Cuisine at Timberline Grill
I started out as a dishwasher. Then, at 15, a short-order cook in a diner in Schertz, Texas. In 2005, I embarked on a great adventure, which was my apprenticeship at The Broadmoor, a 5-star 5-diamond resort and hotel. I graduated and stayed on at The Broadmoor, being promoted to Jr Sous Chef before I left.
I cooked my way around the country after that, from Washington to Florida, but Colorado always seemed to suck me back in. I moved back in 2011 and spent two years in Aspen, Colorado, working at an exclusive members-only club. I returned to The Broadmoor in 2013, working for my mentor for two years as a Sous Chef at La Taverne, the steakhouse. I came to Ameristar in 2015 as the Chef de Cuisine of the Timberline Grill and have been hard at work creating magical and memorable moments for our guests.