Yesterday, I felt like a very lucky local. I can sum up the reasons in three little words: Turkey Chili Nachos.
I know what you’re thinking: Seriously, folks, what took you so long to come up with THAT little gem? Well, it’s just what happens when Deer Valley’s crack culinary team gets to spend the off-season…at work. The fact that the Deer Valley Grocery Café is open year-round is a boon to everyone—locals and visitors alike. Because not only can it taste like ski season, even if the lifts are not operating, but the culinary team has a little breathing room to get a boost of creativity. Of course Turkey Chili Nachos are a genius idea. It’s a new twist on an old favorite.
Before I ate the nachos, though, I had a chance to chat with sous chef Ben Stevens, who heads up the kitchen at the Deer Valley Grocery Café. He poured me a cup of coffee (yes, I had already had a meeting over coffee an hour earlier, but I am incapable of saying no to a steaming mug of Millcreek Coffee Roasters coffee at Deer Valley.)
It turns out; the Deer Valley Grocery Café is always going to cook up a little twist or surprise. In part, because Ben and his team really want to cater to their crowd, and use the café to showcase not just the Deer Valley signature meals and desserts, but the local purveyors who make the food possible. “We want to hear people’s comments, get their suggestions,” he told me. “The more we hear what people want, the better we’re able to cook up a surprise or two.” In fact, one of the things that surprised me is the fact that entire catered dinners for a crowd can be ordered from the café—“It makes it more of a vacation if you can eat comfort food without having to cook,” Ben said. For some of us, just a day off from cooking can feel like a vacation, so I’m all in.
A few other secrets: The pot pies are healthier than you think. “We don’t use cream,” Ben says. “It’s a vegetable volute that gives the pie that creamy texture.”
Still, I couldn’t resist needling Ben to spill a little bit of his “My Deer Valley” secrets.
Ski haunt: “Empire—it’s like the hidden gem, with Mayflower on one side and Empire on the other.”
Ski lunch: “Fish tacos at Empire Canyon Lodge.”
Ski timing: “First chair—working at the Café got me in the habit of being up at 5am. Suddenly, first chair at 9 feels like a whole day off, even if I’m just getting in a few runs before I start the lunch shift.”