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School’s in Session

Keystone’s dining scene gets a much-needed boost.

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Ski bums once filled keystone’s kitchens—and churned out lackluster grub. But that’s changing. These days, a small army of food professionals trained at Keystone’s Colorado Mountain College’s Culinary Institute lends aptitude and flair to the resort’s restaurants (which include the Keystone Ranch and Alpenglow Stube). After completing 6,000 hours of European-style apprenticeship and three years of coursework at CMC, grads enter the workforce. While the chefs de cuisine at Fruition and the Ritz-Carlton Denver both trained at CMC, 50 percent of the graduates remain in Keystone and are elevating its dining options. Here’s a look at who’s driving the upswing.

Grad: Jordan Alley, Sous Chef, Ski Tip Lodge
On Keystone’s food scene: “People dismiss it, thinking it’s just apprentices cooking. But they’re talented. Very talented.”
Food philosophy: Add more salt and more butter than most people do.
Signature dish: Any cut of pork
Worst cooking disaster: Burning $1,200 worth of French onion soup
Advice for home cooks: “Stir everything. Even if it’s not your pot.”

Grad: Steve Nguyen, Executive Chef, Keystone Conference Center
On Keystone’s food scene: “Statistically, there’s one fine dining restaurant every 1,000 miles. But we have three here (Alpenglow Stube, Ski Tip Lodge, Keystone Ranch) within a 15-mile radius. We’re fortunate to have a great bunch of fine-dining chefs.”
Food philosophy: “Don’t serve anything you wouldn’t find delicious or attractive, because if you notice the flaws, other diners will too.”
Signature dish: Firecracker Vietnamese shrimp
Worst cooking disaster: Ruining a 50-pound batch of sugar candy
Advice for home cooks: “Add seasonings as you cook, not just at the end, to build levels of flavor as you go.”

Grad: Steve Vlass, Executive Chef, Keystone Ranch
On Keystone’s food scene: “Every restaurant here has its own niche—it’s not all steakhouses. So all together, we offer an impressive spectrum of dining options.”
Food philosophy: “Buy the freshest, most sustainable ingredients possible and showcase them by avoiding unnecessary complications on the plate.”
Signature dish: Risotto
Worst cooking disaster: Putting ranch dressing instead of crème anglaise on desserts
Advice for home cooks: “Take your time. And read the entire recipe before beginning.”

Grad: Brandon Bauer, Sous Chef, Bighorn Steakhouse
On Keystone’s food scene: “Dedicated culinarians are promoting the growth of young cooks. Everyone’s project is excellence and improvement.”
Food philosophy: “What would your grandma do?”
Signature dish: Beer-braised beef cheeks
Worst cooking disaster: Turning a bag of morel mushrooms into a smoke bomb during a final exam
Advice for home cooks: “Try new things, and do not be afraid of failure. It is the key to evolving as culinarians and human beings.”

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