Meet Your Chef: Lauren McElroy shares love of food with Lauren’s Kitchen in Edwards | VailDaily.com
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Meet Your Chef: Lauren McElroy shares love of food with Lauren’s Kitchen in Edwards

Whether ordering to-go or dining in, local chefs are working hard to keep people fed safely this winter

Editor’s note: To answer the Vail Daily’s Meet Your Chef questionnaire, email Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart (rleonhart@vaildaily.com) or Arts & Entertainment Editor Casey Russell (crussell@vaildaily.com).

Lauren McElroy of Edwards’ Lauren’s Kitchen uses her passion for food — that includes creating gourmet camping spreads — to ensure the diverse clientele at her grab ’n’ go restaurant find familiar comforts to enjoy. Never too “schmancy,” McElroy’s diverse career background and degrees helped her start her culinary career in the Vail Valley in 2014 after living here post-college.

Lauren McElroy, left, gets inspiration from other female business owners, particularly her mother, who became a business owner from the ground up. (Special to the Daily)

1. How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?



I first moved out to the Vail area after college, about 2006, with a friend of a friend who wanted to “live in the mountains.“ We were both big snowboarders who would meet up on the weekends from college at CSU in and around Vail. I stayed out here from then until about 2009, moved away to pursue a VP Marketing career. Long story short, I ended up returning to my “happy place” in 2015.

2. Where did your passion for cooking come from?



I learned to cook with both of my Southern-raised grandmothers. I have since adjusted recipes that say “start with 2 sticks of butter” to include healthier fats such as olive oil. As a child I was always going through the pantry and making random creations from leftovers. I still like experimenting with my cooking techniques today incorporating seasonal produce, dietary restrictions, client budgets, etc.

3. What do you enjoy about being a chef in the Vail Valley?

Unlike a lot of major cities, living in a seasonal mountain town allows for “offseason.“ This is the time when the tourists and even the locals leave, therefore making a great time to close your doors and take a well-deserved break. I also love the influx of all incomes and being able to assist where needed for our diverse population.

4. What’s one thing you are proud of that people might not know?

I actually use all knowledge I’ve procured thus far in being able to run my business successfully. I have a four-year bachelor’s degree in business marketing from CSU, a two-year associates degree in culinary arts from Keiser University out of Florida and have worked in real estate, graphic design, pharmaceuticals, for big corporations and mom & pop storefronts, delis, high-end food markets and private clubs.

5. Skier or snowboarder (or neither)? How often do you get out and where do you go? Also, what are your favorite summer activities?

Snowboarder. I used to go out all the time (especially when working real estate in Vail Village), but ever since I opened my doors to my storefront, the free-time is very limited. I am grateful that I was able to max out my pass a few times in the past. I always enjoyed Vail the best. I know the mountain front to back and even some secret pow stashes. Now, more than likely you will catch me in the backcountry or snowmobiling.

I love white water rafting — I bought an inflatable ducky two years ago and have really enjoyed getting out and exploring nearby rivers and overnight camping adventures. Camping with a fire is also a passion of mine in the summer. It’s fun to get gourmet with camp food, too.

After working as a vice president of marketing, Lauren McElroy realized she needed to pursue her true passion — food — and enrolled in a two-year culinary program at Keiser University in Florida. (Special to the Daily)

6. What do you like to eat?

Just about everything. But those that know me well know I have a sore spot for pasta. I blame it on my Italian heritage — my great-great-grandparents were from Sicily on my mom’s side. But I also really enjoy fresh seafood, gumbo, southern classics, comfort food, well-composed salads, dark chocolate anything, sweets, etc.

7. How does Vail Valley dining compare to other places you’ve worked?

I am in a different category these days, since I no longer offer a dine-in option at my Grab n’ Go storefront, but having worked in many different types of restaurants, I’d say the valley is pretty straight-forward in their tastes, for the most part, they want something they’ve had before, nothing too schmancy.

8. Who has helped you along the way/what inspires you?

Women business owners in general, but especially my mother. She built her business starting as a secretary at the very bottom, bought and sold successful businesses, and now sits on the board. I’m inspired by the drive to get it done, when it is something you are passionate about.

9. If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?

I’ve done a lot prior to being a chef. I would love to publish a cookbook or maybe do something in music (I am into a lot of random genres), once we are able to gather again.

10. What can diners expect from a meal at your restaurant?

The selections are all set to-go, but they can expect high-quality, seasonal ingredients made into healthy-er comfort food classics with a Southern twist.

We recently removed our dine-in booths and are transforming them into shelving to hold homemade goodies (caramel corn, chocolate pretzels, spice blends, hot cider mixes, etc) and a Build Your Own Cheese/Charcuterie station complete with all the accouterments, platters, cute napkins, etc. Our menu changes daily. Call to see what we have in the fridge today, or let us know how we can cater to your specific needs.

For more information about Lauren’s Kitchen, visit laurenskitchenedwards.com.


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