Meet Your Chef: John Zavoral at Vail Golf Club
Get to know your local 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: John Zavoral and I am the executive chef at the Vail Golf Club.
Q: How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?
A: I have lived in the valley for 16 years; I came here wanting to learn how to snowboard and cook.
Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
A: It was actually my plan B originally – but was more cemented when I said I wanted to continue to run the family farm after high school – and my dad saying no, go do something else with my life! So, I enrolled in culinary school shortly after that conversation, since I enjoyed the pressure and fast pace of helping out in kitchens.
Q: Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
A: Definitely my mother and father, who were very supportive. Also, a pair of chefs when I was coming into the industry full time – they were great mentors that I could lean on and always pushed me.
Q: What’s your favorite spice?
A: Chipotle powder! It has a good balance between smoke and heat. If I can use it in a dish, I will.
Q: Favorite protein?
A: Chicken thighs. They have more fat in them than breasts, which makes them juicer and thus more flavorful. You can add just about any marinade to them to add more flavor.
Q: Favorite fruits and veggies?
A: Cherries and peaches are my favorite. I always get excited for them in the early summer! For a vegetable, I would have to go with broccolini. It can be roasted, sautéed or grilled, it’s healthy and it adds a good, bright color to dishes.
Q: Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?
A: Pasta. When I was at Toscanini, I always joked that when I made the pasta every day, it was my therapy session. Also, there are so many types and so many ways to prepare it.
Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: Cheeseburger. You can go in so many directions for a classic American staple. You could go beef, waygu, bison, elk, lamb, and that’s just the patty! The different buns, different toppings…you could put just about anything on top of a burger to make it unique.
Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?
A: I’ve brewed a few beers and want to try my hand at meads. It is something that interests me as a hobby for now. The flavor profile of the hops, which grains to use, the different flavorings … And the smells bring me back to the family farm.