Meet Your Chef: Cody Cunningham
Get to know your Vail Valley chefs
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sean Naylor (email@example.com).
Q: What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?
A: My name is Cody Cunningham. I am the owner of a personal chef-service called Chef Cody Cunningham, catering to Eagle, Summit, and Pitkin Counties.
Q: How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?
A: After spending my twenties abroad, I wanted to get back to my roots from growing up in Montana and all the mountainous activities that coincide with that. My wife and I fell in love with the Vail Valley and have been happy to call it home for almost a decade.
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Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
A: From the time I was old enough to stand on a stool, I was helping my grandmother in the kitchen. I often boast that at 6 years old I was making béchamel for breakfast! After 22 years in kitchens ranging from sustainably powered jungle venues, to elegant metropolitan icons, being a chef has always had a place in my identity.
Q: Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
A: There have been a plethora of inspirations on my culinary journey. My grandmother of course. The amazing Italian woman I am lucky to call wife, she loves food as much as I do and has taught me all the Italian ways with zero room for doubt regarding what is “traditional”… sometimes aggressively.
Luckily, I have had the pleasure of working with many talented chefs that are passionate about sharing knowledge.
Travel has also been an influence; living in India and my journeys through Asia opened my eyes to amazing cuisines and flavor profiles. While in Oceania, experimenting with indigenous ingredients in a European-influenced dining scene resulted in enhancing my formative years.
Q: What’s your favorite spice?
A: Cardamom is a perfect “ninja” ingredient. If used subtly, you can excite the senses without anyone knowing why it is happening.
Q: Favorite protein?
A: That would have to be lamb. There is such a balance of funky/umami/gaminess to sweetness to grassy-vegetal notes. Sheep are complex, succulent and underutilized in the United States.
Q: Favorite fruits and veggies?
A: Seasonality is king for produce. Winter citrus such as Cara Cara and blood oranges are beginning their season. In the summer, it’s all about the hunt for the perfect Palisade tomato or peach.
Q: Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?
A: Pasta in every shape, size and style.
Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: Grilled cheese dipped in ketchup. This answer will undoubtedly receive some judgment. However, the memories of cooking up late-evening grilled cheese snacks for my family are dear to me.
Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?
A: It brings me great joy to create memorable dining experiences for the community inspired by my global escapades. True hospitality and quality are paramount. Organic, seasonal and local ingredients inform my cuisine. My personal chef service offers in-home multi-course tasting menus, family-style feasts, hors d’oeuvres for cocktail parties, small event catering, sommelier wine pairings and culinary classes.