15th Annual Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner

 

logoDeer Valley Executive Chefs Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris were invited to participate as featured chefs at Niman Ranch’s Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa this August.

 Niman Ranch raises livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to produce the finest tasting meat in the world and is a main supplier for Deer Valley Resort.

The 2013 Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner is the ranch’s biggest event of the year and Featured Chefs included:

Alex Yellan- POK POK,  NYC
Anne Quatrano- Bacchanalia, Atlanta
David Bull- Congress, Austin
Clark Norris & Jodie Rogers- Deer Valley Resort, Park City
Jack Riebel- Butcher & the Boar, Minneapolis
Kevin Sbraga- Sbraga, Philadelphia

The 15th annual Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner, celebrated the important connection between the food we eat and the farmers who produce it.  This event has grown over the years from under 100 guests the first year to over 400 guests last year. Read more about the 2014 event on Niman Ranch’s blog

Chef Jodie Rogers documented their weekend in Iowa visiting the farms and of course, everything they ate!

Thursday, August 15:

Here we are at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon sill trying to get to Iowa- Clark and I arrived at the airport at 6 a.m. to find out that our flight had been CANCELLED and they could not put us on a flight until Saturday (which is when the dinner for 500 hog farmers is scheduled)!  Oh dear, thankfully Sarah Willis (original farmers daughter of the Willis Hog Farms) was able to secure different seats on another airline to get us in that day!

We filled in our six-hour wait at SLC International Airport by enjoying breakfast at Cat Cora’s Kitchen, Basil Bloody Mary’s and a massage… oh my god, the massage (Clark made me do it).

We finally made it to Denver, had a quick layover and met Amanda from Niman. Soon we were finally en route to Iowa!

The Welcome Dinner that night at DJANGO, a local brasserie-style restaurant where Owner/Chef George Formaro serves everything we loved about French cuisine, utilizing fresh local sustainable ingredients (including Niman Ranch). Chef George was one of the featured chefs at the ranch’s 2011 dinner! We had a lot of fun meeting all the other chefs participating in this year’s event over dinner. We even toured their cured meats area, which is down in the “dungeon” and very similar size to what the chefs at Silver Lake do.

DJANGO menu

DJANGO dinner

Friday August 16:

Today was an amazing day all around. All the chefs and Chefs Collaborative Scholarship winners toured La Quercia.  La Quercia makes artisan cured meats or salumi — prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, speck, lonza, guanciale, and lardo. Seeking out the best ingredients, produced responsibly, they craft them by hand into something that expresses their appreciation for the beauty and bounty of Iowa. Cathy, of the husband and wife team, was extremely passionate and knowledgeable with what they produce. The two-hour tour was mind blowing and reminded me of why I should and will support the artisans within our trade. We witnessed a tight team take the steps learned by trial and error over the years to produce a superior Iowa prosciutto. After the tour we were lucky enough sample the product. It may be a long three-year process for the acorn prosciuttos but the wait is well worth it. My new favorite is the prosciutto spread, I think it would be great addition to our local cheese selections!

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For lunch, we met up with Trevor (Wasatch Meats) and his wife Sharen, Amanda (Our Niman Ranch Representative) and Rich (Niman Ranch Niman Rep) for a simple but tasty Ham and Swiss from the HUB.

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Back to the hotel (did I mention how sweet our suites are?!) Change of attire to “country casual” and back on the bus……. seriously, how can the day get any better?

Two buses were loaded up about 120 Chefs, salesmen and women in media and marketing (Google was even represented!) We were in for about a hours drive to Alderland Farm in New Providence, Iowa for five extensive lessons on hog farming.

Station 1: We started at the end product and learned how they rate the meat color and the marbling the fat contents. After this experience I am not sure I will ever buy commodity pork for my family ever again!

Station 2: What does a Niman raised hog have the privilege of eating at will? Corn, wheat, soybeans and oats. All pretty much grown on the farm the pigs are raised on. In my mind I am thinking of the dish Clark and I have ready to prepare the next night! Oh no, its high end hog feed, organic farro, fresh corn and a plethora of other local ingredients.  Hope the farmers do not catch on to this!

We started to walk towards station 3 only to be met by a tractor driven by the farmers son. We were herded on to the back and transported to meet with Paul Willis, co-founder of the Niman Ranch pork program. He is such a wealth of information and he talked us through the life of the hogs out on the field. They even have housing!

Tractor Transportation

At stations 4 and the 5 we met up with Paul Brown, the owner of the farm, he has so much passion and pride in what he does! Here we learned his story and realized that he may be the farmer but it really does take an entire family effort.

Next stop was back to the farm house for an awesome array of farm baked goods from the farmers wife. They had a chocolate caramel slice that reminded me of home (Australia). It was one of the first desserts I ever learned to make when I was not even 10. I couldn’t believe I was in Iowa with a childhood memory in hand. It was actually the farmer’s daughter that made it and we talked for a long time.

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Paul Willis

 

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Back on the bus we all go for another hour to the stop I have been waiting for– Willis Dream Farm..and yes, it is very appropriately named!

A few simple words come to mind! Prairie, Whole Pig, Heirloom Tomatoes’, Potato Salad, sunset…… I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves but did I mention the whole pig…. Delicious.

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L to R, Amanda Seastrom (NR Sales) Chefs Clark and Jodie (Deer Valley UT...

Saturday August 17:

The day of the dinner has arrived, it’s time for the chefs to show the farmers just how much we appreciate them. I hope they are ready for a lot of pork on their forks!

The day is long and tedious with many “unexpected” moments for all of the chefs. Clark did not have the roasting pans we needed to perfect the cooking of the Tenderloin and I was wearing a pan of farro down the front of my legs and in my shoes right before plate up, yes, its true! I found out the hard way that the 65 pounds of farro with 10 pounds of butter and 30 pounds of Frisian farmstead mature gouda is great for the complexion.

Appetizers began at 5 p.m. and the chefs were running for their lives, thankfully Clark did the pork cheeks at Deer Valley and shipped it overnight. We would never have made it otherwise!

Let me take a moment to give you something to think about: one kitchen and crew being invaded by 10 out of town anxious chefs, culinary students, local chefs and many many many different levels of stress and personality……. you can probably picture the chaos that ensued.

This is the menu and line-up of chefs featured:

Passed Hors d’ Oeuvres

Sausage and Eggs
Slow Poached Egg, Spicy Italian Sausage, Garlic Crouton, Basil
Chef David Bull
Congress Restaurant
Austin, Texas

 Daeji Bulgogi
Korean BBQ Pork Cheeks, Sweet and Spicy Sauce,
Pickled Cucumbers and Peppers, Butter Lettuce
Chefs Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris
Deer Valley Resort
Park City, Utah

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 Strammer Max, Butterkäse, Quails Egg, New Potato, House Mustard
Chefs Jack Riebel and Peter Botcher
Butcher and the Boar Restaurant, B&B Foods LLC
Minneapolis, Minnesota

 Iowa Farmstead
Selection of Iowa Locally Grown and Produced Foods
by Iowa Farmers and Chefs

Muu Sawan
Fried Dry Pork, Crispy Lime Leaf, Dry Chile Sauce
Chef Alex Yellan
Pok Pok
New York, New York

 Pork Pâté, Tomato Confit, Yogurt, Pita, Dill
Chef Kevin Sbraga
Sbraga
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 Star Provisions’ House Cured Toscano Crostini
Preserved Lemon, Pickled Mustard Seeds
Chefs Anne Quatrano & Clifford Harrison
Bacchanalia
Atlanta, Georgia

 Amuse Bouche
Pork Belly & Tofu Terrine
Apple-Fig Salad, Tonburi, Shisho, White Soy
Chef David Bull
Congress Restaurant
Austin, Texas

 

First Course
Country Ham Tamale
Greens, Ham,Tomato, Chile
Chef Alex Yellan
Pok Pok
New York, New York

Dish #1

 Second Course
Chilled Pork Breast, Cucumbers, Chili Oil, Sea Lettuce, Scallion
Chef Kevin Sbraga
Sbraga
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dish #2

 Third Course
Trotter Ring Sausage, Crispy Pigs’ Ear, Heirloom Tomato, Green Chile
Chefs Jack Riebel and Peter Botcher
Butcher and the Boar Restaurant, B&B Foods LLC
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dish #3

Entrée
Oak Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Iowa Sweet Corn and Frisian Farmstead Mature Gouda, Farro, Root Vegetables,Pontack Sauce, Elderberry Glaze
Chefs Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris
Deer Valley Resort

Park City, Utah

Dish #5, entree

 

 Dessert
Chocolate, Chicharonnes, Chile
Anne Quatrano & Clifford Harrison
Executive Chefs/Owners
Bacchanalia
Atlanta, Georgia

Dessert, partially eaten

A few Pictures from behind the scenes:

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Clark with his Home-made Oak Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

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65 lbs. of faro ready to be cooked

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Prepping at 1 a.m. in the morning before the event. We even had apprentices!

During the dinner Niman Ranch recognizes their outstanding farmers of the year and present the next generation scholarship awards. During the meal it is communicated to the farmers that their continued commitment to traditional farming practices remains vitally important.  

Also awarded were the top 10 hog farmers (based on meat quality) and the Hog Farm Family of the Year. This year’s award went to the Crowe family. A great video of Adair Crowe played during the presentation and I was able to get the link for it: http://vimeo.com/54176499 (be sure to watch, this was a really good video).

Overall it was a fantastic weekend in Iowa and a wonderful way to meet the Farmer’s who provide us with such quality product!

Interview with Steve Graff, Bike/Ski Patrol Manager

Last week I caught up with Deer Valley Resorts’ Bike and Ski Patrol Manager, Steve Graff, as he was returning from inspecting the impressive network of hiking and mountain bike trails the resort will soon re-open to the public. Here are some of the many interesting things I learned about his busy department and their myriad of responsibilities…


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JF: Steve, it’s good to be visiting with you and the patrollers again. Tell me, where’s all the snow? What has happened to you and your staff since the end of the skiing season and what are you up to now?

Steve Graff (SG): After we closed the mountain down in April, we spent another week taking down signs, ropes, pads and getting everything ready for snow melt. After taking a little bit of time off to transition between seasons, our staff is back to work. As you can imagine, our personnel shrinks a bit at this time of the year; most get back to their seasonal jobs. Many go to work as National Parks Rangers all over the country, while those who can never get enough winter continue ski patrolling in New Zealand and Australia. Some are wild land fire fighters or smoke-jumpers, and the rest of us are back at Deer Valley Resort getting the place ready for warm weather activities.

JF: How many employees return for Mountain Bike Patrol?

SG: Out of our 70 or so ski patrollers, about 15 stay on during the summer.

JF: How long is the season?

SG: It goes from mid-June through Labor Day (September 2, 2013).

JF: Are you the crew in charge of maintaining trails and cutting new ones?

SG: Our main priority is helping injured but the bulk of our work is actually trail construction and trail maintenance.

JF: Any new trail this year?

SG: The two newest trails were actually started last season. Both are in the Empire Canyon area, off the Ruby Express chairlift.

  • Drift: An intermediate trail
  • Payroll: More of a free riding, “flowy” trail, with some nice jumps and drops that should add some extra levels of excitement in that general area

JF: This sounds promising! By the way who comes up with these unique trail names?

SG: Payroll is actually a mine name and Drift comes from a drift road that is off Tour de Sud. Some others come directly from the public, “Devo” is a good example; we were just finishing constructing it when we ran into a lady that said “Yeah, that trail is ‘Devo.”

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JF: Does your remaining staff receive summer-specific training?

SG: There’s a lot of cross-over between summer and winter duties like medical training and lift evacuation skills and those are regularly being refreshed.  We add motorcycle, ATV and six-wheeler riding that are unique to our summer season.

JF: You mean, training on vehicles that get you around the mountain?

SG: Right; instead of snowmobiles, toboggans or skis, we use bikes, motorcycles and ATVs!

JF: What types of interventions are typical to the warmer months?

SG: Overall, the few injuries we deal with are less severe than in winter because speed is less of a factor. We see a quite a few scrapes and bruises though, maybe a few dislocations, perhaps more blood than usual, but in general, far less severe injuries.

JF: It seems to me that you and your staff aren’t always on the mountain; over the years, I’ve noticed your presence at all the Deer Valley’s summer concerts. What’s your role there?

SG: To attend the concert!

JF: I should have expected this! So, all Patrollers are music aficionados?

SG: Well, this is another one of our Mountain Bike Patrol duties. We offer first aid response at the Deer Valley concerts, so we attend them all. Depending on the event, between two and four of us are present. We’re there for medical emergencies or other situations.

JF: Are they specific recommendations you’d like to share with mountain bikers and hikers intent to use the Deer Valley Resort trail system?

SG: There are a few good rules; first, we don’t charge for uphill travel outside of chairlift rides. If trail users bike, they must wear a helmet and dogs must be left at home whether their owners hike or bike. Always make sure to look at the map and come up with a route before heading out; remember that there are some trails that are specifically for downhill mountain biking, others specifically for hiking and then they’re others that are designated for both. So, it’s good to know what kind of trail you’re planning to take. If you want to hike and don’t want to see bikers, go on a hiking-only trail. If you want to pedal up, make sure you chose the multi-use trail, not the downhill-only one. That way, everyone can enjoy their experience to the fullest.

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JF: Are there lessons or orientations tours visitors can take?

SG: Yes; both are available and are highly recommended. We offer guided tours of the mountain that will also provide some mountain biking tips; those are for intermediate level and above, but they’re also “mountain bike 101” lessons that will take a rank beginner straight to the single-track trails. Many riders often say: “I know how to handle a bike, therefore I don’t need lessons” but as you know JF, mountain biking is a very different deal, it’s not like riding in the neighborhood; there’s weight transfer, forward-and-back and side-to-side involved, it’s a lot more dynamic experience than pedaling on asphalt around the block.

JF: What other recommendations would you give hikers or mountain bikers visiting Deer Valley Resort?

SG: I know some people who chose to ride their mountain bike by themselves, purely for exercise. If you’re one of them, just let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. Always wear a helmet and sunglasses. Even if you’re going on a short trip, throw an extra power bar in your pack, a replacement tube, enough water, some basic tools if you ever break down.  Even if you aren’t quite sure how to fix it, some passer-by might be able to assist you and get you back on your way. Always wear gloves; if you ever fall, the first thing that’s going to hit the ground is your hand. Some extra protection goes a long way!

JF: Any tips about the weather?

SG: Always be prepared for anything! In the mountains, the weather can change rapidly. Look for thunderstorms. If you can hear thunder, lightning isn’t far, so get off the high ground, don’t huddle under the tallest tree, just wait for the storm to pass; it generally never lasts very long.

JF: What about encounters with wildlife?

SG: We do see quite a bit of wildlife. This is one of the great things about hiking and mountain biking around Deer Valley. I’ve had the pleasure to see all kinds of animals around this mountain. You just got to give them space. We’ve taken a lot of space away from them and we should always treat the mountain as their own domain. If I see a moose on the trail, I make my presence known, and hopefully he’ll amble on.

JF: So, how ready are you for Deer Valley Resort summer opening?

SG: Well, we’re opening on June 14, and based on my most recent trail inspections, we’re going to have a fantastic opening, with ninety percent of the trails perfectly passable, so please, come and join us!

 

Peeking Into a Lift Operator’s Life

In any skier’s typical day, each chairlift or gondola ride always involves a Lift Operator. This key employee is constantly making sure that everyone is safe and well cared for. The constant interaction between Lift Operators and skiers has perked up my curiosity and prompted me to know more, and understand better, what motivates these seemingly tireless mountain workers.

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Late this season, one early morning, just before his shift, Kevin Combs, one of the many Deer Valley’s Lift Operators, took the time to listen to my questions and shone a rather enthusiastic light on his daily life:

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JF: How long have you been a lift operator?
Kevin: This actually is my first year.

JF: What was your occupation before that?
Kevin: I was a machinist, back east, in Massachusetts. I moved to Utah in November.

JF: How do you like working with Deer Valley Resort?
Kevin: It’s fun. It’s a great experience being here, lots of great people to work with, everyone has a smile on their face and always ready to serve our guests and makes sure everyone has a great experience, whether we’re talking about guests or fellow employees.

JF: Were you a skier before you came here?
Kevin: Oh, yes! I have been skiing since I was 12 years old.

JF: So, I guess you learned and skied in New England?
Kevin: Oh yeah, I skied the ice, which is something you have to learn on the East Coast. I can guarantee that it makes a good technical skier out of anyone who learns over there!

JF: How often to you get to ski?
Kevin: That’s what makes the job so exciting: I get to ski every day; whenever I get a break, I ski, it’s great!

JF: Even on your days off?
Kevin: You bet, I ski every day that I can, I wouldn’t miss a beat!

JF: Where, on the mountain, do you work?
Kevin: I am working out of Empire Canyon. I either work on Empire or Ruby Express chairlifts. I also help around on the mountain when another lift is short of people. I’ll rotate as needed.

JF: Since this was your first season, have you visited other Utah resorts?
Kevin: I’ve almost skied them all; the only ones I think I haven’t skied yet are Solitude, Powder Mountain and Snowbasin.

JF: When you’re skiing Deer Valley, what’s your favorite run?
Kevin: I’m into extreme skiing so I love to ski a lot around Lady Morgan, because of its great tree skiing and its cliffs. I’m particularly fond of Centennial Trees, and of course, I ski off Empire Express in places like Daly Bowl and all the surrounding Daly Chutes. When I happen to find an untouched area, I just “drop-in…”

JF: Are you skiing alone or with buddies?
Kevin: I do a lot of skiing by myself. This said, I have a lot of friends who ski with me; I do my own things in the morning, and then I hang with them in the afternoon because sometimes they can’t quite follow me. But I like to ski with everybody and together, we always have a great time; I guess that’s what skiing is all about!

JF: What would you say are the skills required to do your job well?
Kevin: Before anything, you need to be a great people person. You need to be concerned about skiers’ safety and comfort, especially those who are less advanced and aren’t always familiar with riding lifts. Sure, it also helps to know a little about things mechanical, the lift itself, because it’s a big piece of machinery. For instance I pay attention to noises that may come from the lift; with my mechanical background, I can alert Maintenance to a problem if there seems to be one. Of course, the job also demands that one is a decent skier so you can ski to and from work, can relate well to our guests and have a wonderful interaction with them.

JF: Does a healthy passion for skiing help?
Kevin: Oh yes, most definitely! If you work as a Lift Operator and are not really here for skiing, you miss out a lot. Of course you can take the job just for the love of the mountains, but a passion for skiing shows and makes all the difference. Working no longer feels like work!

JF: What would be your next professional goal with Deer Valley Resort?
Kevin: I’d probably love to move up to Ski Patrol, because I like to help people and be on skis. For me, being outside and helping people are the two main reasons why I love with my life at Deer Valley!

JF: If people reading this blog were interested in a position like yours, what kind of advice would you give them?
Kevin: Don’t be scared by the responsibilities and by all the impressive machinery; the work is totally doable. The training Deer Valley provides is great, everything is fluid, all the kinks have been purged, and of course, there’s all the skiing!

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JF: What will you do this summer?
Kevin: I’m planning to get a job with an online sport equipment supplier in the Salt Lake Valley. During my spare time, I also plan to mountain bike a lot here and around Moab!

JF: Sounds exciting! So, you’re looking forward to another winter season with Deer Valley Resort?
Kevin: I think so; I’m now convinced Deer Valley is the place to be. It’s a lot of fun here. We’re surrounded with lots of great, helpful people all the time. I’ve never had a bad day here, which is simply… amazing!

My Deer Valley – Brian Kahn, Mountain Host

Six. That is the most layers my friend Brian Kahn has worn to work in his role as Mountain Host at Deer Valley. But, he says, it’s worth the extra effort to share his love for the resort with  guests. “I don’t take for granted living in wonderful Park City,” he told me. “Helping a guest to have a great ski and vacation experience is fulfilling;  I am proud to live here and love to show off Park City’s wonderful attributes.”

Mountain Host fits Brian in another way—it’s a job title that comes with many hats: tour guide, concierge, first-chair aficionado. Off the hill he wears even more hats: Husband to Jessica, father to Shane, age three. Portfolio Manager for Responsible Asset Management; principal at Jupiter Peak Financial, his business consulting firm. But whether he’s standing by a trail map offering advice, or leading a First Tracks tour, Brian says the three and a half days per week that he spends on the hill are something he “craves.”

What drew you to the mountain host position?
Deer Valley Resort. I have degrees in Tourism Management and Marketing from the University of Colorado, Boulder and studied resorts and hotels that were/are at the top of their game. Working for Deer Valley—which has always been at the top of the game—isn’t a dream anymore, it is a reality!

What is your secret to staying warm as you stand in the cold for hours at a time?
Paying attention to temperature and wind speeds, mentally preparing and wearing a lot of layers.

Morning view during First Tracks-Dec 31, 2012

What is First Tracks?
First Tracks is a small part of our overall role, but it is very, very enjoyable. Guests pay for a private tour experience just before the lifts open to the public. Riding the lift with a small group of guests as the sun is rising over the Uintas is magical. We are ‘pace setters’ and also on the lookout for our guests’ safety as First Tracks takes place while we are still prepping the mountain.

What other tours are available to guests?
We lead four complimentary mountain tours per day, meeting at Snow Park and Silver Lake Lodges. In the morning and afternoon, we have one expert tour and one intermediate tour leaving from both locations. We quickly assess the guests ability and take them to terrain they are going to enjoy and act as concierges on skis – answering questions, telling the history of the mountain, the mining history of Park City. And once our guests take tours, they get hooked. (For more information about Deer Valley’s complimentary Mountain Host tours, including times, please visit our website.)

Some guests want to ski with others that are at their same ability. Some are looking for dates that they can ski with! Some are out alone on business or their spouse is in a lesson, and they feel more comfortable skiing with a host and others of their same ability than skiing alone. They end up coming back to skiing again with us because we know their ability, the terrain, where to avoid lines (if any) and we keep them moving. We can cater to their questions, too – where to go for a family meal, where to go for upscale dining and what other activities are in town such as the Utah Olympic Park, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and more.

What makes Deer Valley family-friendly for your family?
The fact that there are so many choices for ski school is a big deal. Because Shane is so little—he’s three—we set him up for success with lessons on Friday afternoons—because it’s generally warmer on the hill in the afternoon. We are looking forward to sharing quality time together in a sport his mother and father love—and to teaching him to be a safe and responsible skier.

Describe your perfect DV ski day:
This year, I’m having a lot of fun skiing with my wife, Jessica. Now that Shane, is starting ski school, she’s getting back into skiing more frequently—I just bought her some great powder skis and she’s rocking them!

Honestly, my perfect ski day starts the night before— I start to get antsy, especially before a powder day. It annoys my wife, because I make sure her clothes are out and there’s no wasted time so we’re out the door with plenty of time to make first chair. I like to head out to Lady Morgan because it’s the most bang for your buck—you take 6 runs, and you are thrashed. Then, I move over to Empire, I always go high up in elevation where the snow is lightest. I’m not eating until I’m pretty much exhausted, and then I take a break in the restaurant and relax and get a bowl of chili wherever we are on the mountain.

 

My Deer Valley – Donna McAleer, Ski Instructor

Last spring, I was out for a run in the Swaner Nature Preserve—and I ran past my friend Donna McAleer with surprising ease. In fact, I was so shocked that I had passed her up on the trail that I stopped, turned around, and greeted her with: “What’s wrong?” You see, at best, I’m a mediocre runner, and at her worst, Donna—well, in truth, I’ve never seen her at her worst. Until that day. “I’m recovering from stomach flu,” she confessed. “But my mind was racing and I had to get out for a run.”

Donna, you see, was midway through her campaign for a seat in the United States Congress, representing Utah’s District one. She’s a West Point Alumna, retired United States Army officer, and is the award-winning author of Porcelain On Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line. Oh, and she once served as a bobsled driver in a bid to compete in the sport in the 2002 Olympics. Which is, in case you are wondering, how she came to live in Park City, and eventually lead the People’s Health Clinic, a local non-profit dedicated to giving free and low-cost health care to underserved populations.

If that’s not evidence that she’s hard to catch, I’m not sure what is. Donna’s daughter Carly attends the same school as my sons—and we met about five years ago, when her daughter and my son were attending a local music program together. As two preternaturally busy moms, we bonded and recognized both kindred spirits and the opportunity to help each other out, and a friendship—with a side-order of carpool—was born.

Amidst all of this, the 40-year veteran of ski slopes has spent the last nine years as an instructor in the Ski School at Deer Valley—and eight years as a member of the Deer Valley Synchronized Ski Team.

It will surprise you not at all that the only time we could connect our schedules for a chat was at 6:15 a.m. on a recent morning.

1. Have you always skied on the powdery slopes of Deer Valley? No, I grew up in the east, and I learned to ski on the blue ice and in the frigid temperatures of Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, VT.

2. What interested you in teaching in the first place, and what is your favorite part about teaching at Deer Valley?   I love being outside and sharing my love of the sport with others.  And I love helping guests improve their confidence and ability. Plus, Deer Valley has the best office view, anywhere.  Any day on the mountain is better than a day in an office!

3. How often does the Deer Valley Synchronized Ski Team practice?
We do about eight sessions prior to the performance on December 30 – we train at 4:15 p.m., riding last chair to the the top of Carpenter Express and we get one run. By the time we get to the bottom it’s kind of dark. It’s a hard-core dedicated group of 12-15 of us, that have been skiing together for six-eight years.

4. Has the team ever participated in competitions? Here’s a little bit of quick history: in the mid-80s Deer Valley had a nationally-ranked synchro team, and the Deer Valley team were the world champions in 1995. After a while, the team disbanded and Andy Lane started it up again about five years after that.

5. You put on a great show for the guests—what makes it pleasurable for you? I love that we are all working to help each other get better—that is the great thing about synchro, even as an instructor, you are constantly working to improve your skills and it’s about the discipline, about skiing in line and on time and turning to someone else’s cadence.  vidually beautiful, we have gone through PSIA certification together, and synchro became a part of our training, part of our commitment to each other and the resort

6. What’s the mood like during the event? It’s very festive—at Deer Valley, the night before New Year’s Eve is all about the retro ski clothes—probably because you don’t want to ruin good ski clothes, since you are carrying torches that throw off embers. But you see these great, “sexy” 80’s one-piece ski outfits—which are the original synchro team uniforms. Visually, it’s very pretty, we are in headlamps, carrying torches coming down Big Stick and Wide West. . The the night before new year’s – suynchro demo component to it along with the torchlight. It’s not a competitive team anymore.

7. When and how will we get the best view?
It starts at 6 p.m. and we encourage guests to come at 5:45 p.m. People typically line the plaza at Snow Park and the staging area for ski school. There is hot chocolate, hot cider and the mascots are there. It’s very festive. The perfect way to do it is to plan to dine at Seafood Buffet, so that you can check out the show at the same time.

8. What is the secret to good synchronized skiing?
You have to be able to do the simple really well—and when it happens it looks really good. What you look for is everybody in synchronicity: are they in line, do they have the same shape of turn, how closely they are skiing? We want to provide a team performance, it might be opposite synch, in two parallel lines, skiing in opposite directions, everyone is in cadence. We do different size turns, different shapes, and it all gets back to just the fundamentals of skiing, all the things we teach people, the foundations of good skiing—good turn shapes, moving down the hill, using turn shape to control our speed.

9. You’re an author, an executive and a former candidate for the US House of Representatives, a mother, a wife (in no particular order!)—did skiing play a role in your ability to balance all of those roles at various times? Can you see any lessons you learned during and after your campaign that have parallels on the ski hill?
Being a writer—bringing a book to publication, writing is a solitary act. In terms of my book, thousands of hours of interviews and editing, and 19 manuscript drafts, and it takes a team to publish it. Similarly, while there is only one name on the ballot, it takes a team to make a campaign viable. Skiing is like that—it’s an individual sport, but you’re moving in relation to others. And the act of skiing—moving our bodies, maintaining dynamic balance, you need to be in balance over varying terrain, how we balance and how we stand on our skis, we want to always be moving forward and in the direction of our turn, down the hill, forward and across the skis. My campaign slogan was, “Not left. Not right. Forward.” It applies to a lot of sports, especially skiing, and for me it was a key point in how we think about our political system and we are so quick to make an assumption on how someone votes or legislates—no one is really moving forward and that’s a big issue in our political movement.

Also, another parallel between politics, writing and skiing: sometimes less is more. Really good writing is simple. Thomas Jefferson said, “Never use two words when one will do.” And sometimes we get so bogged down, so focused on technique, that we don’t just ski, we have to let it go.

10. Did Deer Valley play a role in your campaign at all?
My campaign manager is a ski patroller at Deer Valley—and , despite having met and had lunch together in the cafeteria, it was politics that brought us together. He had run campaigns on the east coast, but we bonded over the fact that we share the love of the mountain. There were a number of colleagues from all departments at Deer Valley that were part of the campaign as volunteers, making phone calls.

11. How did your experience as a teacher at Deer Valley Ski School prep you for life as a candidate? During the campaign I found myself relating moments on that trail to moments on the ski trail—There are always obstacles. In skiing we call them moguls, and you need to be able to be flexible to adapt to the terrain. No two ski lessons are ever the same, even with the same client. That’s the cool thing about teaching skiing,—to help someone, to understand how different people learn— you have to be adaptable and flexible in all these situations. In the campaign you want to stay on your message and how you are trying to interact with voters and you may take a different line, you need coaching, good peripheral vision….and you need to be an active listener in both environments, you need to understand what those people’s goals are—you have to be a good observer.

Look for Donna and the rest of the DV Synchronized Ski Team at Snow Park Lodge, starting at 6 p.m. on December 30, 2012.

Click here to check out the Deer Valley Synchro Team in action last season!

From a DV Lift Operator

Shytei Corellian, Lift Ops

Ever wonder what it might be like to be a first season Lift Operator at Deer Valley?

Me, too — and I was one.

This week sixty eight new Lift Operators begin their 2012-13 winter season the ones you’ll be seeing all day long and just might get to know on a first-name basis if you happen to ski a favorite lift most days.

My first year as a Lift Operator was back in 1990-1991. I was planning ahead for at least three months, getting fit, begging mom and dad to help me out with buying gear, and truly, honestly nervous.

It took about five minutes during my first day of training to be A.) entirely overwhelmed with the amount of information and expectation of being part of the Deer Valley Team and B.) thoroughly excited — the thought “Coolest Job Ever” kept running through my mind.

How many times I’ve had people say to me: “Nice Office” as they get off the chair at the top shack, I’ve lost count, but each time I smile and say: “Absolutely, can’t beat the view.”

I’m sure these new Lift Operators will share much of these same sentiments, and I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them as you ski through the lift lines this season.

I guess I do remember what it’s like to be a first year Operator. Some memories are just too good.

Cheers,

Shytei Corellian, still a very excited Deer Valley Team Member

This season, 68 new lift operators started training this week.  With 21 chairlifts, Lift Operators are an essential piece of running Deer Valley Resort.  A week-long training program, with both classroom and on-site training, prepares Lift Operators from interacting with guests to safely operating chairlifts.

Cheers to Summer at Deer Valley

September Bickmore and Bonnie Ulmer of Deer Valley Grocery~Café, produced the winning cocktail last month at the Park City Cocktail Contest when a panel selected this original cocktail, “Flower & Pine” as Park City’s “Signature Cocktail” for spring and summer 2012.

We met up with Bonnie Ulmer to find out what makes summer in Park City so great and to share a recipe for one of Deer Valley’s signature cocktails.

When did you come to Deer Valley?

I was one of the originals. Starting as a bartender and cocktail waitress at the Après Ski lounge, I started opening day in 1981. I have been making drinks here ever since.

What is a perfect summer day to you?

I usually have Sunday and Mondays off. We wake up early to get a little wakeboarding or waterskiing in on the Jordanelle or Deer Creek. On Sundays we make our way over to the Park City Silly Market for a while and then head back to the closest body of water for paddle boarding. We usually round the day off with a BBQ and of course a couple cocktails.

What is your favorite thing on the menu at Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe?

Ben Stevens, the chef at Grocery~Café makes the best Panini’s. I love to sit and eat on the deck.

What is your most memorable concert at Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater?

My favorite concert at the Snow Park Amphitheater had to have been Lyle Lovett. He was married to Julia Roberts at the time and all my friends and I kept trying to see if she was in the crowd somewhere.

Your must have treat at Deer Valley?

My favorite dessert has to be the McHenry’s Frozen Lemon Meringue Pie served at Royal Street Café.

What is your favorite cocktail?

Blueberry Mojito.

Biggest misconception about Utah liquor laws?

I have so many bar patrons surprised you can actually get a drink in Utah. Some of our cocktails, with liquor flavorings have as much as two and half ounces of liquor in them.

We asked Bonnie to share the recipe to her favorite cocktail, the Blueberry Mojito. It makes a great cocktail to enjoy over the Memorial Day weekend.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deer Valley Blueberry Mojito

Yields: 1 Drink

Ingredients:

1 handful mint

1 tsp. granulated sugar

Quarter wedge of lime

½ to ¾ cup lemonade (preferably not from concentrate)

1 oz. premium light rum (Bacardi Silver brand suggested)

2 Tbsp. fresh or frozen blueberries (one tablespoon smashed to create some juice)

Splash of soda

½ oz. premium dark rum (Myer’s brand suggested)

Sprig of mint (for garnish)

Slice of lime (for garnish)

Ice

Procedures:

-  In a tall 16 oz. class, add mint leaves and sugar. Squeeze juice from the lime wedge into the glass. Mash the ingredients with the back of a spoon or a special wooden “muddler” until the mixture is fragrant. Fill the glass with ice.

- Add lemonade until the glass is 2/3 full. Add splash of soda then add light rum and blueberries and stir.

- Slowly pour dark rum into the drink so it floats on top.

- Garnish with a sprig of mint and lime, serve.

 

 

 

Trip of a Lifetime Winner: Deer Valley

Scott Dwyer was the winner of SKI Magazine’s Trip of a Lifetime Contest to Deer Valley Resort. While flying home following the trip he was able to reflect and so kindly shared his experience with us. Enjoy!

I’m here to say that dreams really do come true and, when those dreams include Deer Valley, there is a very fine line between fantasy and reality. At times, the delineation between the two is only separated by the smile on my face and the joy in my soul.

I suppose I could qualify as the quintessential reader of SKI Magazine and fan of Deer Valley: I typically read the magazine cover-to-cover, and, prior to my first visit to Deer Valley last year, considered reading the trail map to study the terrain and amenities a mandatory night time activity. Further, I was well aware that Deer Valley was awarded the top spot in the reader rankings for the fifth year in a row and knew the exact dates the SKI Magazine Deer Valley Trip of a Lifetime entries were open.  Like many I’m sure, I submitted an entry and forgot about it.

In late December, though, my fantasy turned into reality as my email inbox glowed with the subject line “Trip of a Lifetime Winner: Deer Valley”! It took several glances to confirm it as fact and me not delusional.

It didn’t take long to fall in love with Deer Valley during our first visit, but I suddenly knew that our second visit would be infinitely more special. Sure, my wife and I looked forward to sitting in Cushing’s Cabin while gazing out over the majestic snow-covered peaks again, but imagine our delight when we discovered our award included elegant accommodations, a loaded welcoming gift basket, lift tickets, and all meals highlighted with dinners at the Seafood Buffet and Mariposa! Yes, our second visit would be special!

While all of the resort amenities were nothing short of remarkable, the highlight of our trip was meeting a bunch of really nice people. These are not just ordinary people; these are a cadre of very special people that elevated a very nice trip to a magical experience and helped us turn the resort into “Our Deer Valley.” It is impossible to mention everyone that had an impact on our trip, but some highlights include: breakfast with Communications Manager Emily Summers, meeting other members of the marketing team that had a hand in making our trip happen (thanks Terry, Ed, and Coleen!), our Mariposa waiter Jon Good, a litany of on-the-mountain hosts and guides, and ski equipment storage representatives that handled all of our gear with warmth and a smile.

How do you say thank you for something like that? I suppose a vote towards the sixth straight number one ranking is a good place to start. That is kind of a given, though, and I wanted to do something more. You see, leading up to our first visit, I became so enamored with the 30th anniversary Deer Valley logo that I decided to paint it.

(Scott’s fantastic painting for Deer Valley’s 30 Year Anniversary)

This year, though, required something more unique, so I used the view from Cushing’s Cabin as inspiration and painted a fall scene using the Deer Valley logo and a large number one. I’m proud to say that both are now in the possession of the resort and, I hope, serve as just one reminder of how special this place makes people feel.

(Scott’s latest painting)

So, on the plane ride back to North Carolina with my wife by my side, I started typing…and thinking. My thoughts were dominated by the reality that our stay at Deer Valley was really an Experience of a Lifetime, a remarkable series of events that we will never forget. And, while our vacation did many things, it certainly made me wonder how quickly we could get back, hopefully sooner than later. Until that time, I’ll be filtering through my memories of a special place and thinking of what to paint next year. For that, I’m certainly open to suggestions.

It’s My Deer Valley with Stephen Harty

We couldn’t wait to sneak down to the bakery and catch up with Silver Lake and Empire Pastry Chef, Stephen Harty. The man behind some of the wonderful desserts at the resort shares with us “His Deer Valley.”

When did you come to Deer Valley?

I started as a seasonal baker in the Snow Park Lodge in the 1995/1996 season (17 years and counting). I was a production baker working three 6 a.m. shifts, so I could get out skiing for two hours after my shift, and two 8am shifts. I had a young family so I had Tuesdays and Thursdays off to be Daddy daycare/preschool.

What does a perfect ski day mean to you?

Big POW and still snowing! I love those days when it just keeps on coming. I’ll admit I am a “crack of ten o’clock” skier so all day dumps suit me. The storms from the south that bring the biggest snow to the Sultan side of the resort are my favorite.

Where is your favorite place to eat at Deer Valley?

The Natural Buffet during lunch at all three lodges offer such a variety of unique salads, creative sides, as well as house made dressings and of course homemade breads, you can’t beat the great tastes. You do have to be creative in the way you stack your plate to get the value as well as the flavors.

What do you enjoy about baking?

The great thing about baking at Deer Valley Resort is that we do such a wide range; from artisan breads and baguettes, bulk production of cookie dough (huge amounts) and carrot cakes, small production of high end plated desserts (with all their sauces and garnishes), elaborate wedding cakes, and chocolate. I truly enjoy the variety. I enjoy the creativity and the science of baking, especially at the varying altitudes. I enjoy working with new flavors and products to keep Deer Valley baked goods at the fore front of trends. I enjoy mastering the classic recipes so we can put our own twist on them. And I really enjoy all the taste testing!

Your must have treat at Deer Valley?

17 years and 1000’s of batches of cookies and I still love the cookie dough! Plus all the chocolate that we serve.

What run is a must for every ski day?

Anything off-piste off the Sultan lift and Ontario bowl (I have some “secret stashes” in there that are good for days after a storm).

Who is your favorite person to ski with?

I have been riding chairlifts with my beautiful bride, Sandy, for 25 years. We celebrate together on our first ride up each year and I look forward to continuing for 25 more.

Can you share a recipe with us?

French Silk Pie
Yield: 1 Pies

5 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
8 oz Butter,Room Temperature
8 oz Brown Sugar
1 1/2 t  Vanilla
1 c  Pasteurized Eggs
1    10″ Brisee Shells,Pre-baked
-
Whipped cream,AS Needed
Chocolate Shavings,AS Needed
1.  Pre-bake 10″ brisee shells.  Let cool completely.
2.  Melt unsweetened chocolate over a double boiler.  Set aside.
3.  Cream butter until very soft.
4.  Add brown sugar and beat until very soft and fluffy.  Stopping to
occasionally scrape.
5.  Add vanilla extract.
6.  Add melted chocolate and mix until combined, scrapping occasionally.

7.  Add eggs VERY SLOWLY, about 1/4 cup at a time, incorporating well
after each addition.  Stopping to scrape occasionally.
8.  It will take awhile to add all of the eggs if you do it correctly.
**If you add the eggs too fast-the batter will be grainy and not light
and fluffy**
9.  When all the eggs are added divide into crusts.  Using an offset
spatula, spread to smooth out top.
10.Wrap and Chill.
11.  To Serve:  Finsh top with whipped cream pipped in a shell pattern
using medium star tip. and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

Katie learns just how much fun spring skiing can be on Day #3

So truth be told, I love to complain. If it were a sport in the Olympics, I would hands down take the gold, silver and bronze. So although I’ve said that I hated skiing before and I’m starting to like it now, doesn’t mean that I didn’t have my fair share of complaints during this whole experience. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t cold, and that falling didn’t hurt, or even that it was an easy experience that I fell in love with instantly. But I will tell you that it was something that I have zero regrets doing and that I may not be a diehard skier now, but through this experience I have grown to be more patient, more confident, and willing to put effort into it even though I’m not that great. It’s easy to love something that you are good at, but much more difficult to find fun in something that you’ve sworn to loathe.

After my first and second lesson, I was pleased with my progress and thankful for the chance to learn a new skill, but I really had zero intentions of ever going again (this is where my excellent complaining skills came into play). And then I was informed that I got one more lesson! I was excited, but also really nervous because I was probably going to have to really ski, like actual runs, with actual potential to eat it hard core. So while heading up the canyon I told myself that it was fun and I loved it and I would live. Cue complaining, again.

And then I got my stuff and we were off, just to the beginners slope at first but Eddy assured me that we would hit the actual slopes today in his perky-I-love-skiing-more-then-life- sort of way that he does best. The first run down I was shaking and not loving it, and then all of the sudden it hit. I felt that I was OK and that I could survive the full lesson and then real skiing began.
We went to some of the runs where it was super sunny, and created a whole new type of snow that I was not used to. Snow that’s a little slushy is clearly my kind of snow. It makes turning a bit more difficult but helps keep your speed in check, no complaint with that. Not to mention the sun! It was so beautiful and made the resort look so much different in such a breathtaking way. We made it over to Deer Crest and Eddy could easily sense my change of mood and knew that this sort of skiing was Katie Fredrickson sort of skiing. We went down our first run which was an easy blue, and I felt good about it. Then we did the same run again, and again, and again. It got to the point where I could relax and enjoy the run, instead of focusing on what my feet were doing.

Then Eddy told me that I was ready for a harder run and that it was not much different at all. Looking at this run was very frightening. I looked at Eddy and said, “Alright crazy, what run are we really going to do?” After about five minutes of me standing there and Eddy reassuring me about a million times that I was more than capable to handle this run, we set off. Turns out, I could handle that run, and had fun all the way to the bottom. When we reached the bottom Eddy started laughing and I asked him what was so funny, assuming I looked like a spazz. His reply was, “Look at you, actually skiing and you are smiling. First time I’ve ever seen that smile!” No joke this was when I knew that I would come back and ski on my own sometime.

Eventually we met up with Deer Valley blogger JF Lanvers and he asked me how I was doing. My answer was, “fantastic, we are skiing and looking legit!” And his response is probably the greatest thing that I have ever heard. Imagine his French accent and his smiley face saying, “Well why else would we ski but to look cool?” LOVE IT! We got some good runs in, I did fall (which was so kindly edited out of JF’s video), but if you don’t fall, you’re not trying.

This experience was the only thing that would ever have made me enjoy skiing. I’ve even have plans to go within the next week. I never thought I would actually have plans to go skiing. Thanks to everyone at Deer Valley, especially Eddy, you all made me like skiing and build the skills so that I can learn to love it.