Front Range residents don’t often travel to the mountains seeking seafood, but after tasting what executive chef Jasper Schneider is up to at Wyld at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, that may change. Since the restaurant replaced Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in 2016, it’s been a home for Colorado cuisine including game meats and other local ingredients. But when Schneider came aboard in June, he pledged to expand the seasonality of the menu and added an emphasis on fresh seafood.
While unexpected for a restaurant flanking a ski resort, this new focus on the sea reflects Schneider’s background. Over his 25-plus year career, much of his time was spent in tropical places like Hawaii, St. Thomas, and, most recently, Anguilla in the British West Indies. Go back even further and you’ll discover that Schneider trained under seafood master and James Beard Award–winning chef Eric Ripert of New York City’s Le Bernardin. (As luck would have it, Schneider’s chef de cuisine Manuel Gutierrez also worked under Ripert at Blue in the Cayman Islands.)
Having tasted both Ripert and Schneider’s food, there’s no doubt that Ripert’s influence has informed Schneider’s style. “Eric is a mentor and he taught me that less is more on a plate,” Schneider says. Indeed, there’s a measured thoughtfulness that shines through Wyld’s menu. Take his fluke ceviche with apple, pickled red onion, cilantro, and espelette: it’s simple, and yet not simple at all. The star was the fluke, so mild and delicate that it would be easy for the fish to disappear under the weight of other ingredients. Not here. That same let-it-shine approach was apparent in a dish of wild king salmon with chanterelles and winter truffle vinaigrette.
Meat eaters should feel no FOMO as Wyld still has a healthy selection of carnivorous choices, of which the duck breast with parsnip, green lentil confit, and huckleberry jus should be at the very top of the list. And no matter the order, a side of savory steel cut oats with mushroom dashi and chives is not to be missed. “We want to take the restaurant to a place it hasn’t been before, “Schneider says. “We want to make Wyld a food destination for the winter.”
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, 0130 Daybreak Ridge Road, Avon, 970-748-6200