Chef in Season: Simple and sophisticated summer sensations |

Chef in Season: Simple and sophisticated summer sensations

Julie Bielenberg
EAT Magazine

Microgreens, onions, potatoes, heirloom carrots — although the Vail Valley has a short growing season, it’s certainly rife with variety. Local chefs selected their favorite dishes inspired from the regional bounty.

Michael Joersz, Pickled. kitchen + pantry

Chef Michael Joersz created a global gourmet market and eclectic menu at his Old Town Eagle eatery that opened in late 2020. “This is a recipe I have been doing for a long time and one of the things I am most excited about for this summer with the abundance and variety of local mushrooms from the valley,” says Joersz.

Wild Mushroom and Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese Toasts

1 1/2-2 lbs wild mushrooms such as shiitake, crimini, maitaki, chanterelle, hon-shimeji (honey mushrooms) etc., roughly chopped

2 small shallots, julienned

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2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, julienned

2-3 tsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

3-4 Tb good olive oil or grapeseed oil

2-3 Tb dry mirin or shaoxing wine

3/4-1 lb Haystack Mountain goat cheese (Longmont CO), softened

2-3 tsp mushroom or dark soy (optional)

18-24 toasted baguette rounds

Sea salt (preferably English Maldon)

Cracked black pepper

1.Heat oil in a wok or cast-iron skillet on high until just before smoking point. Add mushrooms and cook for approximately 1 minute while stirring. Add shallots and cook for an additional 30 seconds or so until the liquid from the mushrooms starts to evaporate. Deglaze with wine and add soy. Reduce slightly until somewhat dry and add thyme and parsley.

2.Remove from heat and set aside covered to keep warm. Cut baguette into 1/2” rounds and toast in oven until golden brown.

3.Spread 1-2 tsp softened goat cheese on toasts and top with mushroom mix. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Pierson Shields, Grand Hyatt Vail

“We spent the past season creating a new Tiki Bar that is going to incorporate the best of the valley’s food, poolside,” says Pierson Shields. “From slow-braised local onions paired with Rocky Mountain brisket to fresh pork ribs from the Western slope, the new offerings are fun both on the chef and guest fronts.”

Heirloom Carrots with Lemon Crema and Fresh Parsley
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Heirloom Carrots with Lemon Crema and Fresh Parsley

1 lb small heirloom carrots

Extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

1 cup crema

1 lemon, juiced

Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to taste

1.Preheat oven to 350.

2.Clean carrots and toss in the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic.

3.Roast carrots for 15 minutes or until tender.

4.While carrots bake, stir crema, lemon juice and

1 tsp salt together.

5. Remove and set broiler to 500. Put carrots back in the oven and broil until blistered.

6. Serve carrots on a platter, drizzled with the lemon crema and garnished with chopped parsley

Daniel Joly, Mirabelle

“I’ll tell you a secret: Mirabelle has its own greenhouse dome and we are fortunate to get a jumpstart on using our own greenhouse,” says Daniel Joly. “We can grow and protect seedlings from late freezes before transferring to our garden along the creek. Lavender, green and purple basil, microgreens, cherry tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash and baby corn are the most popular produce we have. I see summertime as vegetables on the grill at the ranch, grilled corn on the cob, basil and mushroom quinoa salad. Or maybe smoked barbecue ribs or a nice seafood paella… of course, paired with great wine is the most important recipe for happiness!”

Colorado Lamb Lollipop

Rack of Colorado lamb

Olive oil

Shallot, diced

Fresh mint


Pepper, coarsely ground

Arugula-mint pesto (recipe follows)

1. Clean lamb to the bone.

2. Marinate lamb in olive oil, shallot, mint and black pepper for 2-3 hours.

3. Heat grill to medium high.

4. Remove the lamb chops from the oil, season with sea salt and fresh pepper. Grill the lamb, rotating them for 2 minutes each side — you want to keep them medium rare to medium, adding some smoke flavor from the grill.

5. Serve with arugula-mint pesto.

Pistachio, Mint and Arugula Pesto

1 cup arugula leaves, loosely packed

1/2 cup mint leaves

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup toasted pistachios

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 tbsp Champagne vinegar

1 tsp honey

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a blender, combine all ingredients except olive oil on medium high.

2. Slowly drizzle in oil. Taste for salt and pepper and season accordingly.

Barry Robinson, Antlers

Chef Robinson has been cooking for the masses for years while at the helm of the large catering department through the resort. And, even better, he has dozens of recipes and videos online for step-by-step demonstrations. The fruit and nut bread capitalizes on summer’s bounty.

Fruit and Nut Bread

QUANTITY: makes 3 loaves

500 grams butter, room temperature

500 grams caster sugar

Ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

400 grams white flour

8 eggs, separated

200 grams walnut kernels

200 grams almond slithers

200 grams ground hazelnuts

500 grams assorted dried whole fruits,

whatever is available: apricots, figs, plums, cranberries etc.

100 grams sultanas

1. Cream butter and half the sugar with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, then slowly add the egg yolks.

2. Place all dry ingredients and dried fruit into a large stainless steel mixing bowl, slowly fold in the butter cream to the dry ingredients.

3. Make a meringue with the other half of the sugar and the egg whites, whipping until smooth and shiny. Then slowly fold the meringue into mixture.

4. Place the dough into a greased and floured bread tin and fill to half way.

5. Cook at about 320 degrees for 1½ hours. Place a skewer in the middle of bread to see if it’s cooked — the skewer must be clean when removed like testing a pound cake.

6. Remove from oven and place a new clean baking tin on top of hot fresh bread and press while hot and continue to press with a weight until cold. Remove from tin and wrap for storage in refrigerator until needed.

7. Slice about ¼”-wide slices and serve with

local cheese.

8. Store in refrigerator for up to 8 weeks, or wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 6 months.

Angel Munoz Jr., Westin Riverfront

Chef Angel Munoz Jr. never slowed down during the pandemic; rather, he got creative for large to-go orders and at-home holidays. “During the height of COVID, we weren’t placing orders for big pieces of meat and expensive cuts,” Munoz says. “Instead, we were having fun with all the local produce we had access to last summer and some of the best dishes come from our own backyard!”

Goat Cheese Cheesecake
EAT Magazine/Courtesy photo

Goat Cheese Cheesecake

1 lb cream cheese

1 lb goat cheese

1 cup sugar

1 Tb cornstarch

1 vanilla bean

4 eggs

1.5 cups sour cream

1 pinch salt

1. Cream sugar, cream cheese, cornstarch, salt and vanilla bean. Mix, scrape, add goat cheese; mix, scrape, add eggs one at a time and mix well.

2. Scrape, add sour cream and mix.

3. Bake at 350 degrees in a water bath for 15 to

20 minutes.

4. Let cool.

Taylor Frankel, Sweet Basil

“In my opinion, summer squash is one of the most underrated local summer vegetables,” says Taylor Frankel. “It is a blank canvas, a dense sponge that will soak up anything you marinate it in. It is also the same plant that produces the lovely squash blossoms we drool over when they come through the door. At the restaurant we will use up to 5 five different varieties of summer squash every year. I love it in zucchini fritters, grilled in its most basic form or as the star of my zucchini parmesan sandwich. We have featured this at the restaurant but it is also the medium I use to convert even the most diehard carnivores.”

Zucchini Parmesan Sandwich
EAT Magazine/Courtesy photo

Zucchini Parmesan Sandwich

Crispy fried parmesan zucchini planks

Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Sriracha mayo

Good bread

Fresh squash ribbons

Barbecue chips

1. Assemble open-face sandwiches by slathering the bread with the sriracha mayo, then top with zucchini planks and cheese.

2. Place under broiler until cheese melts.

3. Top with fresh squash ribbons and chips, and serve. “Many of us may be a little shy to admit it but chips on a sandwich are magical,” says Frankel.

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