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Meet Your Chef: Adolfo Martinez Becerra of Sakaba

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is showcasing area chefs in a new series called “Meet Your Chef” so you can learn a bit more about those creating art in the kitchen. If you’re a local chef and would like to be a part of this series, please email Tricia Swenson (tswenson@vaildaily.com) and Sean Naylor (snaylor@vaildaily.com).

Q: What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?

A: My name is Adolfo Martinez Becerra and I’m 23 years old, I am the sushi chef at Sakaba at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch.

Q: How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?

A: I was born in Vail and left to go to New Mexico at the age of two. I came back when I was ten and went to Florida at 17 for an internship at Disney World and I’ve been back since then.

Check out Chef Adolfo’s sushi menu, including black cod at Sakaba at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch.
Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch/Courtesy photo

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?

A: Ever since I was a little kid. I grew up surrounded by kitchens since I was young.

Q: Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?

A: My biggest inspiration is my mom, she taught me to work hard for my dreams and to always keep chasing them. Currently she’s pursuing hers by opening her own food truck that will be open soon.

Sakaba is Japanese for “bar” and this bar and restaurant has many innovative cocktails on the menu.
Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch/Courtesy photo

Q: What’s your favorite spice?

A: My favorite spice is togarashi, it has the perfect blend of spice and acid.

Q: Favorite protein?

A: My favorite protein is fish, more specifically Japanese chu-toro from a bluefin tuna. It has a great balance between fat and lean.

Q: Favorite fruits and veggies?

A: My favorite fruit would be peaches and my favorite veggies are butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Q: Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?

A: My favorite carb has to be pasta and anything that has to do with it.

Chef Adolfo loves to get out in nature whenever he can.
Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch/Courtesy photo

Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?

A: My go-to comfort food will always be curry and rice, especially when it’s spicy.

Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?

A: I just wanted to share with anyone that wants to join the industry, keep pushing and take advantage of any opportunity you can get. You never know what can happen good or bad but the experiences are unforgettable.

Meet Your Chef: Jasper Schneider of Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is showcasing area chefs in a new series called “Meet Your Chef” so you can learn a bit more about those creating art in the kitchen. If you’re a local chef and would like to be a part of this series, please email Tricia Swenson (tswenson@vaildaily.com) and Sean Naylor (snaylor@vaildaily.com).

Q: What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?

A: My name is Jasper Schneider and I am the executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.

Q: How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?

A: I came to the valley four and a half years ago because I was attracted to the Colorado lifestyle.

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?

A: I moved to Hawaii after high school that’s when I started cooking.

Q: Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?

A: My Grandma Adele and chef Eric Ripert was my mentor.

Chef Schneider and his family moved to Colorado four and a half years ago for the lifestyle.
Chef Schneider/Courtesy photo

Q: What’s your favorite spice?

A: Sea Salt makes all food taste better.

Q: Favorite protein? 

A: Fluke, which is a simple white fish that be eaten raw or cooked.

Q: Favorite fruits and veggies? 

A: Apples raw or cooked in a pie.

Q: Seasonal wild mushrooms add so much flavor.

Chef Schneider loves to bring people to the table to enjoy good food and make connections that last a lifetime.
Tricia Swenson/tswenson@vaildaily.com

Q: Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?

A: Pasta with homemade red sauce or potato pancakes, also known as latkes.

Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?

A: Roast chicken or my Grandma Adele’s chicken soup.

Chef Schneider and his team have been creating Earth to Table meals every Wednesday at Wyld at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch.
Chef Schneider/Courtesy photo

Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?

A: Cooking and eating food brings people together at the table and gives joy to so many. It has taken me all over the world. Building relationships through cooking lasts a lifetime.

Savoring the Wyld with Earth to Table dinners at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch

What’s better than creating dishes with the bountiful produce from area farms this time of year? Having a talented chef and his staff come up with the best ways to showcase the harvest. Jasper Schneider, executive chef at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch and his team are hosting weekly Earth to Table dinners at Wyld and invite you to experience the flavors every Wednesday.

The Earth to Table Dinners have been a part of Wyld’s summer program for the past four years. The dinners were scheduled to start in August to wait for the produce to ripen and be ready to serve to diners.

“This year, things started a little bit later because it was colder and there was some frost, so it wasn’t until late July and early August that we started seeing corn, peaches, tomatoes, peppers and zucchinis,” Schneider said. “Later in October we’ll start to see all the winter squash, butternut squash, celery root, parsnips, sunchokes and all that, so we are looking forward to hosting these dinners all the way until the end of October.”  

The Earth to Table dinners have a different theme each week.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Schneider said each week is like a blank canvas, allowing him and his team to get creative with the menu and flavor profiles based on what produce comes in and what inspires them.

“We give the cooks the night off on these Earth to Table nights, so it’s just me and my executive sous chef, chef de cuisine, my other restaurant chef, my pastry chef and we all get together and create the menu,” Schneider said. “This is our night to have fun and experiment and see what flavor profiles we like and go from there. We could even come up with something that spurs an idea for the winter menu.”

One week it will be American style with plenty of barbecue dishes, or the next theme will be Mexican. Asian spices influenced the menu on Sept. 7 and that evening the chef and his crew were already thinking about what they’d do next.

“As we were sitting here tonight, we came up with the Israeli flavored menu for next week. We’ll even pull out the grill and have an action station outside and cook in front of you while we are actually serving you dinner, so I’m really looking forward to that,” Schneider said.

Each week about 50 to 60 people come to try out the new menu. Some came back week after week because the menu is never the same twice. The dinner is served family-style at big community tables, allowing new connections to be made over a great meal.

The Asian-themed dinner started with a few vegetable dishes such as heirloom tomatoes in a kimchi broth and cilantro. The conversation dish at the table was the corn chawanmushi. Chawanmushi is an egg custard dish in Japanese cuisine. Duck bao buns were also added to the table, but you only ate one because the entrees were next.

Schneider used fresh corn to make chawanmushi, which is an egg custard dish in Japanese cuisine.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

“Moving into the main course is where we’ll have steamed halibut with a nori vinaigrette because it’s Alaskan halibut season. Then we’re doing kalbi style steak, which is a Korean marinade so what we’ve done is marinade the steak in Asian pear, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, a little bit of orange juice. Lastly, we are doing a dry pepper chicken.”

Sides included roasted eggplant with gochujang sauce, green beans with a ginger miso sauce, and then rice with squash and chestnuts. It’s all so good, but you must save room for dessert.

Dry pepper chicken was just one of the three entrees served at the Earth to Table Dinner at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

“My pastry chef always comes up with the craziest desserts. We used to have a matcha traditional Japanese crepe at our Sakaba sushi restaurant, so she did a twist on that. She has made black sesame crepes with peach in between each layer and then she’s done an apple and miso tart and apple and miso ice cream,” Schneider said.

“These dinners are so whimsical and playful and what a great way to showcase the fresh produce,” Schneider said. “It’s a great time. It’s a different experience for people to see what we can create at Wyld.”

One of the desserts featured black sesame crepes with peach in between each layer.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Alpine & Antlers offers American classics with an artful twist

The new Alpine & Antlers restaurant in the Beaver Creek Lodge can take care of all your dining and drinking needs. Serving morning, noon and night, this eatery offers American classics with an artful twist.

Executive chef Sammy Shipman said their goal at Alpine & Antlers is to create a fun place where the menu is approachable, comfortable and shareable. “It’s kind of the opposite of what many of the restaurants at Beaver Creek have. At many places, there is a large tasting menu where you commit to several courses. We have a variety of shareable plates and entrees so you can order for what your needs are at the time,” Shipman said.

Alpine & Antlers has been in the making since July and Shipman, who’s been a chef in the valley for over 10 years, said it’s been fun to start a restaurant from scratch. “Many times you come into a restaurant where the menu is already established and you can’t change a lot of the dishes. Here, we had to develop every single part of everything, right down to which type of oil to use,” Shipman said.

We tried one of the seasonal favorites on the menu, the flaming saganaki, which is kasseri Greek cheese, brandy and lemon served with a sliced baguette. They light up the skillet right at the table, so have your camera ready. We also had the wood-roasted mussels. “We’re doing everything we can in our wood-fired oven or the wood-fired grill because you can pick up so much good flavor in there,” Shipman said.

Alpine & Antlers also has a drink menu featuring alpine-infused cocktails like the apple pie, which is a festive rye-based cocktail with allspice liqueur with a house-made apple shrub and a crushed graham cracker and gingersnap rim, which is sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

The breakfast menu is super-charged with power bowls and protein-packed classics like an egg white frittata and a whole grain rice bowl that’ll energize you for a day of skiing and snowboarding. Happy hour runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and they have live music Wednesdays through Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. Check in with them about their New Year’s Eve party featuring Austin’s Rose.

Feed your curiosity at this funky new place to dine in Beaver Creek. Follow Alpine & Antlers on social media for more information and specials.

Restaurant deals, Oktoberfest, a wine crush and more: Tricia’s weekend picks 9/27/19

Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week

The seventh annual Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week kicks off Friday and will run through Oct. 6. This 10-day event excites foodies and those looking for deals at area hotels and spas during autumn in the Vail Valley. The $20.19 restaurant specials offer a chance to go for that expense dish and with hotels and spas offering discounts, you could make a staycation out of it or invite friends and family into town at a discount. If you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or just want a date night, take advantage of the savings this time of year.

Guests will quickly notice their favorite locations from the past six years are once again participating with new restaurants, lodges and spas joining this popular event.

At the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouse, the lunch deal will feature a house salad, their Mountain Cheeseburger plus one topping and house dessert for $20.19. For dinner enjoy either the Loch Duart Scottish Salmon with summer sweet corn succotash, rock shrimp and roasted corn sauce or slow-cooked pork shank with green apple mustard, mascarpone polenta and fennel slaw.

Sweet Basil with have appetizer and drink specials for $20.19. A few to choose from: Salmon Tataki and their Perfect Margarita, a blend of Herradura Silver tequila, lime, Cointreau and Grand Marnier; chicken liver terrine and a glass of Tokaji wine; six oysters and a glass of sparkling wine.

Montauk Seafood Grill in Lionshead is doing the math for you with 40.38% off entrées. (That’s 20.19% times two). At Gessner at the Grand Hyatt Vail (formerly Hotel Talisa) enjoy $20.19 select bottles of wine in addition to two-for-one entrées with the purchase of an appetizer.

Hotels are offering attractive deals as well. The new Grand Hyatt Vail will have rates starting at $169. Montaneros Vail will offer 20% off its rates and the Antlers Vail has condos starting at $168 per night. The Sebastian Vail has its special fall staycation specials for Colorado residents from Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Garfield Counties.

Spa deals can be found at the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, Bloom Spa at the Sebastian Vail, the Spa at the Sonnenalp Vail and Vail Athletic Club.

For the most updated list of deals, view the Dining at Altitude website at www.diningataltitude.com. Check back often, as more specials may be added.

Oktoberfest at the Sonnenalp

Just when you thought it was safe to put away the lederhosen, the Sonnenalp Vail is hosting another Oktoberfest celebration this Saturday. The Sonnenalp typically hosts a few of these traditional beer fests around Memorial Day and July 4. This last event lines up with the official Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany, which kicked off last Saturday and runs through Oct. 6.

The family-run hotel, which has roots that date back to 1919 in Bavaria, Germany, will provide the most authentic backdrop of all the Oktoberfest celebrations held in the area. The dirndls and lederhosen you see the staff wear aren’t just brought out for this day, it’s the uniform they don throughout the year.

There will be classics such as bratwurst with sauerkraut and specialty dishes like kasespatzle and apfelstrudel will also be on hand. Their pretzels will be served with dark ale mustard, Erdinger beer cheese sauce and apple butter. Seating will be classic beer garden style on a first-come, first-served basis.

There will be beer to wash it all down. The Sonnenalp has paired up again with Erdinger beer from Erding in Bavaria. Big steins will be filled with a few different varieties.  

Providing the music will be Those Austrian Guys playing classic folk tunes and the chicken dance. The event runs from 2 to 8 p.m. Fall lodging specials are available in case you want to remain in the Bavarian vibe and stay right at the hotel. For more information, please visit www.sonnenalp.com.

Wild West Day

Wondering where all the families are on Sunday? You’ll find them at 4 Eagle Ranch for Wild West Day. Hundreds of families will be having a great time while supporting and raising money for nine public elementary schools in Eagle County.

The 29th annual event is put on to enhance the education of the children through each school’s PTA/PTO and Education Foundation of Eagle County (www.efec.org). This local hoedown is filled with fun, games and entertainment for the whole family from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Get there early and take part in the Wild West Great Stampede hosted by the Kids Adventure Games on Sunday morning. This event will be more of an obstacle course style race this year. Registration is from 8:45 to 9:15 a.m. and the race starts at 9:30 a.m.

The silent auction, featuring all sorts of spa deals, restaurant deals and gift cards, is already live online so you can peruse it at your leisure but keep in mind, the auction closes on Oct. 5. Western fun and activities can be found around the ranch and rumor has it that the dunk tank and the open mic for aspiring singers may show up again.

In addition to Wild West Day, the Wild Wine Tasting will be held on Friday at the beautiful and rustic SaddleRidge restaurant in Beaver Creek. Boone’s Wine and Spirits is bringing out a huge wine selection, plus there will be appetizers and dessert from SaddleRidge and Mountain Flour. There’s also a silent auction featuring exclusive auction items available only at the Wild Wine Tasting.

To get tickets for Wild West Day, Wild Wine Tasting or to view the auction items go to www.efec.org.

Vines at Vail Wine Crush

Speaking of wine, why not join in the winemaking process by visiting Vines at Vail? This modest mountain, boutique winery hosts its 29th annual crush this weekend at its location at 4 Eagle Ranch.

Come out between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. until about 2 p.m. on Saturday for the crush, which starts the fermentation process. Also on Saturday, be a part of the “I Love Lucy” costume contest reminiscent of that famous scene where Lucille Ball was stomping grapes with her feet. Look for inspiration for costumes on the Internet by searching “Lucy grape stomp outfit” and you’ll see plenty of ideas.

When you hear Vines at Vail you may wonder where their grapes come from. Although there are some vineyards in western Colorado, all of the Vines at Vail grapes come from Lodi, Stockton and Amador, California.

“We are hands-on with every process of making wine. All of our patrons love to touch, taste and be a part of it because no one in the valley does this,” said Patrick Chirichillo, founder, owner and winemaker at Vines at Vail. To learn more or to get signed up for the event, visit www.vinesatvail.com.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s

The second annual Vail Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place at the Brush Creek Park and Pavilion in Eagle on Saturday morning. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is part of the walks held nationally by the Alzheimer’s Association. The walk is one of six held in Colorado. There are 600 held throughout the nation each year.

According to its website, the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. It’s a daunting task, but one that is necessary, especially when you consider the statistics on the website:

  • Between 2000 and 2017, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 145%.
  • In the United States, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2018, more than 16 million caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias provided an estimated 18.5 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at more than $234 billion.
  • In 2019, Alzheimer’s disease will cost the United States $290 billion. This number is projected to rise to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050.

Those statistics are why it’s now being called an epidemic in the U.S. and the Alzheimer’s Association is leading the charge for Alzheimer’s care, education and research and is making sure that every level of government is hearing this. 

Register online in advance or register at the event starting at 8:30 a.m. and the program begins at 9:30 a.m. followed by the walk at 10 a.m. Walking in the event is free, but feel free to donate to help the Alzheimer’s Associate keep this disease at the top of minds of researchers and the government. Set up a team or join a team and wear purple to the event if you have it. The walk is a moderate two-mile walk around the Brush Creek Park and downtown Eagle Ranch. Bring the whole family and dogs are welcome, too.

Alzheimer’s is the only top ten causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. If Alzheimer’s touches you or someone you know, gain some hope by joining the walk on Saturday. For more information and to sign up in advance go to www.alz.org/walk. Join me if you want someone to walk with. I’ll be walking for my dad who is currently suffering from Alzheimer’s.