New Devil’s Thumb Ranch chef focuses on ‘farm to fork’ dining experience
TABERNASH -A plate of food prepared by Executive Chef Evan Treadwell tells its story. The leafy-green spinach was grown at high altitude on a mesa just outside Granby; the sirloin steak comes from an eastern Colorado co-op farm; and the corn was gleaned from Olathe, where there is the Olathe Sweet Corn festival every year at the beginning of August. The gnocchi on the plate was hand-prepared by the chefs in the kitchen. “We support local farmers and ranchers in the state as best we can,” said the chef, direct from Northern California, who recently accepted the position as executive chef at Devil’s Thumb Ranch.Unlike his home state, “What I’m finding to be the case is more local meats are grown in Colorado as opposed to produce,” he said. Treadwell was a pioneer in a culinary movement that has now become mainstream. Having started his career on the first wave of the regional “farm to table” movement in California 20 years ago, Treadwell has emerged as one of the more knowledgeable chefs in the field of supporting regional sources of food and creating cuisine from scratch.Everything from hamburger buns, focaccia and brioche to pastas, sauces and dressings are created in-kitchen, using fresh ingredients originating “from as close to the Ranch as they possibly can be,” Treadwell said. Treadwell is so committed to farm to table, he’s taken inventory of the Ranch’s 5,000 acres with the vision of one-day supplying beef and other foods from the Ranch itself.His regionally focused cuisine earned him Sante’s Culinary Award for “Innovative Regional Cuisine” in 2007, and Central Coast Magazine’s Iron Chef Award of 2008, during which he competed against 40 chefs throughout the California wine country from Santa Barbara to Monterey in “Battle Citrus.”A self-proclaimed “small-town guy” originally from Mendocino, Calif., Treadwell comes to Devil’s Thumb Ranch from the AAA Four Diamond Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa on California’s Central Coast. He earned Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence serving as corporate chef for 10 California resort properties. His background also includes executive chef position at Benbow Inn in Northern California and sous chef at Viogner Restaurant, where he worked with James Beard Award winner Chef Gary Danko.He is a graduate of the Culinary Arts Program at the Opportunities Industrialization Center West in Melo Park, Calif., and achieved advanced culinary training at the Culinary Institute of America in Helena, Calif.The seasons are an inspiration to Treadwell’s menus, which will change with the equinox at both Heck’s Tavern and Ranch House Restaurant. For example, diners can look forward to made-from-scratch butternut squash ravioli on the Heck’s menu come autumn. The most popular item on the Heck’s current lunch menu, according to servers, is prawn tacos with carrot-jicama slaw and pico de gallo. The chef also offers “small plates,” such as black mission figs and Colorado beef carpaccio.Meanwhile, the Ranch House Restaurant will continue to offer its fine-dining experience.Treadwell oversees a staff of about 20 sous chefs, pastry chefs and cooks at Devil’s Thumb.”There are a lot of great cooks working at the resort,” he said. “I’m happy to be working with them.”The prospect of working in a place only two hours from the city of Denver also appeals to the chef, who is accustomed to working farther away from the nearest city.”There is a lot more readily accessible from here,” he said. His present feat is preparing to overcome the challenges of Grand County’s long winters by forging relationships with producers throughout the region.”I’m excited to be here,” he said as he embarks on the “next phase” of Devil’s Thumb’s culinary offerings. “I love the area. We’re very excited about the possibilities Devil’s Thumb has. It’s a very unique property – sky’s the limit.”More new at the ThumbAs Food and Beverage Director, Dale Mingo is the new go-to guy for Devil’s Thumb events. And Devil’s Thumb has its share. In this one weekend, for example, there are four weddings, Mingo said, and upcoming is a casual western to-do on the deck of the Ranch Creek Restaurant for executives of search-engine giant Google. In its efforts to cater to business groups small and large, Devil’s Thumb has attracted the likes of Home Depot, Sprint, Intrawest, Newmont Mining, SnowSports Industries and the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. Mingo stands ready for the task. He is a 20-year industry veteran who worked as Director of Restaurants for Vail’s 5-Star Sonnenalp Resort. He also served as general manager for Martorano’s in Miami and Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and managed Diamond Omni Hotel in San Francisco and Sacerac Restaurant and Axis Restaurant in Seattle.He comes to Devil’s Thumb as the Ranch continues to evolve, with more corporate meeting space under construction to be offered in a new 1,500 square-foot building, slated for completion in September. Called the Yager House, the building offers event space with a large patio on the first level, with a bridal room on the top level, accommodating an entire bridal party before ceremonies at Devil’s Thumb’s outdoor wedding venue. Constructed with beetle kill and geothermal heating, Yager House also is poised to be the location for cooking classes with Executive Chef Evan Treadwell starting in 2012.Other construction at Devil’s Thumb includes an extension of the Ranch Creek Spa. The lower level of the spa is being renovated to accommodate overflow reservations, with five additional treatment rooms to allow 16 treatments at one time. Mingo, who says “cocktails and burgers” are the most popular spa food menu item, joined the Devil’s Thumb team in May. Mingo says he hopes to help elevate Devil’s Thumb as a secured tradition for people, where through activities, entertainment and food, Devil’s Thumb becomes a place of bonding and camaraderie on the important holidays and dates of people’s lives.Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603
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