Meet the Chefs - Jackson Hole: From the Range, a dinner at NYC's James Beard House
The big news on the Jackson Hole food front this week is that the JH community will be showcasing culinary talents to the New York media and public this October 2nd at the historic James Beard House. Fine Dining Restaurant Group Executive Chef Roger Freedman and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Executive Chef Wes Hamilton have collaborated to create Jackson Hole: From the Range a carefully curated menu of ingredients sourced from our region along with wine and whiskey pairings.
We’re excited to see these chefs in action in NYC, so in the mean time we sat down with them to find out what makes them tick.
Roger Freedman - Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Fine Dining Restaurant Group
AC: Where you like to go on your day off in Jackson?
RF: I love fly fishing on my days off – anywhere really, whether it’s the Snake, Green, South Fork or elsewhere. If I’m not fly fishing, I am golfing. Living just over Teton Pass, I often golf at Teton Reserve or The Links at Teton Peaks. Sometimes I venture over to Idaho Falls to play as well.
AC: Best meal you’ve ever eaten?
RF: Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. I love Thai food to begin with – it’s my favorite besides tacos – but the first time I went there I was blown away. I’ve probably returned 25 times since. My favorite things to order there are the Crispy Catfish Salad and the Panang Crispy Curry Duck. I could eat those two dishes every day of the year.
AC: What is the dish you’re most proud of?
RF: I would say I’m most proud of my ragu bolognese. I learned the basics of creating a great ragu bolognese in Italy, brought what I learned back and made it my own. I’ve been making it for over 16 years now. It’s just one of those satisfying, authentic dishes that makes you feel great when you eat it.
AC: Give us a secret, what is one random thing you like to eat??
RF: I’m a taco freak. Anytime I make food at home, it’s pretty much always tacos. I love them all. I make a lot of carne asada style tacos because they are quick, simple and delicious. The most unique taco I’ve ever had was probably a brain taco I ordered in Los Angeles. I was a little hesitant to try them at first, but I actually really enjoyed them.
Wes Hamilton - Executive Chef, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
AC: What are your favorite restaurants/ dishes/ drinks to enjoy in Jackson Hole when you are not working?
WH: Some of my favorites are the devils on horse back at Spur, and smoked wings and a rhombus IPA at Roadhouse (pictured below). I live in Victor, ID, and I am constantly impressed with the caliber of food at the restaurants “over the hill.” I love the the pulled pork sandwich at Scratch and I had a great meal last week at Spoons.
AC: What is the most memorable/ best meal of your life?
WH: A multi-course dinner at L’Espalier in Boston in 1999. I was staging at Masion Robert with a friend of mine and to finish the week, I flew my then girlfriend (now wife) up for the weekend. It was an absolutely amazing night. I still remember the potato soup with osetra caviar. Everything was so precise, very inspiring.
AC: What is the dish you are most proud of?
WH: Generally, I’m most proud of dishes that showcase/feature local products. I have a lot of admiration for farmers and artisans, and really enjoy presenting their products in my own way. Last summer we created a dish we called “Stu’s Salad”, in honor of Stewart Dodi, the owner of Wyomato. Wyomato at the time only grew three things; tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. So we wanted to feature all three things in the same dish, hence Stu’s Salad. The salad was sliced red wyomatoes, marinated cucumber, basil aioli and fried green tomato “croutons”. Wicked fun to eat and really good.