Two Chefs Talking

Hotel Madeline, Telluride

The Hotel Madeline in Telluride, Colorado, has made quite an audacious pledge. According to its managing director, it wants to introduce six eco-friendly initiatives a year. In 2012, the hotel is eliminating plastic water bottles (a water filtration system will provide fresh water in glass bottles to every guest) and has introduced composting in the kitchen (composting is not easy in the often freezing Colorado climate).

Once a year, 20 guests at the hotel can sign up to take part in a guided foraging hike to find wild, edible mushrooms including shiitake, chanterelles and morels. The culinary team then prepares and serves a multiple-course meal in the mountains incorporating the foraged finds.

Lots of the innovation at the hotel takes place in the kitchen. Here, in an interesting exchange, Chef de Cuisine Bud Thomas and Executive Chef Cory Sargent give an idea of their methods and attempts to be responsible and still on top of the game.

Chef Bud I go to the farmers market every Wednesday (in Mountain Village) and Friday (Telluride).  We also have someone that visits all the local farms and delivers to us once per week.

Eating out with the Madeline

Chef Cory I have visited quite a few farms early in the season in order to set up relationships and an ordering/delivery procedure. Farms all over the southwest Colorado are full swing now. We do our best to go meet with the farmers in person and test the quality of the products we use. This week I will be visiting the southern farms, who have been providing a lot of our produce, quinoa, pork, and even specialty bread flours. (These suppliers include LB Brands Cooperative and Song Haven Farm.)

First we need to look local. Guests from different areas all want local meats that fit the “mountain lifestyle.” Lamb is always on the menu. We get our shanks from a rancher northeast of Denver. It’s ironic, but New Zealand lamb is almost half the price of Colorado…. Supply and demand for Colorado is high. I purchase all my grass-fed buffalo from a local farm called High Wire Ranch, who provides me with the best buffalo that I have tasted!!

As far as our seafood, sustainability  is our number one concern. Our fish menu changes almost every night depending what is flown into us. Rocky Mountain Trout and a local sea bass (raised in Alamosa, CO) are always crowd pleasers, and they both top the charts in responsible fishing.

Chef Bud My first priority is delicious. It just so happens that the most delicious choices are close to home and sustainable.  We have developed strong relationships with many local farmers and ranchers.

For seafood, we use Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to aid us in making sustainable choices (we only buy seafood on the “best choices” list).  We order most of our fish from a local company called Mountain Valley Fish and Oyster.

For meat, we want a diverse and delicious menu.  We try our hardest to buy from local family-run ranches that practice sustainable operations.  This is what we look  for first.  Most of our menu is sourced locally.  Many entire dishes are made from local ingredients.

For produce, first and foremost, delicious.  Locally when possible.  There are some things I can’t live without, like avocados and citrus. We do what we can and fill in the gaps with some of those California must-have items. Also, a few of the farms have planted custom crops for us. For example, Swingin’ Gato Farm will be growing baby fennel for a Braised Pork Ravioli with Roasted Fennel dish.

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