Grand County welcomes back Chef Jean-Claude Cavalera |

Grand County welcomes back Chef Jean-Claude Cavalera

Lance Maggart/
Staff Photo |

From the Savoy Hotel in London to the Warwick International in Denver, French born Chef Jean-Claude Cavalera has crisscrossed the globe in the elite echelons of cuisine.

Now, after several years away from Grand County, Chef Cavalera has returned and opened a new restaurant in Soda Springs called the Stillwater Grill. The Stillwater Grill offers fine Colorado products paired with old-world French cuisine flair. Those familiar with this region might remember Chef Cavalera’s previous restaurant in Grand County called Caroline’s Cuisine, which operated for 20 years.

The Stillwater Grill’s all-natural farm-to-table menu features an assortment of classic French appetizers such as escargot, Prince Edward Island Mussels and a charcuterie board, to name a few, along with salads and Chef Cavalera’s soup list, including their incredible French onion au gratin.

The mussels at the Stillwater Grill are something of a staple, with the restaurant going through 70 to 80 pounds a week. They receive fresh shipments of the mussels from Canada four times a week.

Their entrée menu offers multiple traditional French favorites such as duck confit, filet mignon and steak frites au poivre along with several Italian options and a unique take on cheeseburgers called “The French Disaster.”

Cavalera is originally from Nice, France, and was classically trained in French cuisine at the Plaza Hotel in Nice. Throughout the late ’70s and ’80s Cavalera traveled the world working as sous-chef and executive-chef at various high-end restaurants and hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton in Boston. In between he even did a stint working as a chef in the French Army. During his many years working in high end French kitchens, Cavalera became friends with the legendary Julia Child.

Along with his extensive experience in world-class kitchens, Cavalera is also a chef instructor at the world famous Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder.

With the opening of the Stillwater Grill at the beginning of the summer, Cavalera has once again turned his attention to his ingredients. Chef Cavalera said the restaurant is mostly GMO free and they are working to reduce the amount of GMO foods they serve. They feature non-antibiotic treated Colorado beef and locally sourced bass and other types of fish. Chef Cavalera said he regularly purchases products from Morales Farms in Grand County and is passionate about wild mushrooms from the Rocky Mountain region. Their bar features beers from local Colorado breweries on tap.

Along with their focus on locally sourced ingredients, the Stillwater Grill is also focused on organic products and features a wide variety of both vegan and gluten-free options for diners. All the sauces made at the Stillwater Grill use rice flour, as opposed to wheat flour, as a thickening agent, making the sauces gluten-free. Stillwater Grill also offers gluten-free bread options for patrons.

The food at the Stillwater Grill is delicious, up-scale and yet unpretentious. The restaurant itself has an atmosphere that is both relaxed and reserved, and patrons can expect to see Chef Cavalera as he directs the flow of traffic and oversees kitchen. His passion for food and ingredients is evident when you talk to him.

“If you get passionate about something, you have to live your passion,” he said. “It was Julia Child that said that to me once, ‘Live your passion’. It is especially important in the restaurant business. It is not a good business if you lack the passion.”

The Stillwater Grill is located at 9921 US Highway 34, #27 at Soda Springs Ranch by Cutthroat Bay approximately half way between Granby and Grand Lake. They are open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For reservations or more information call 970-627-4929.

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