Meet Your Chef: Mackenzie Nicholson of INTUEAT, Beano’s Cabin and Mountain Girl Cooking
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 (email@example.com) and Sean Naylor (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?
My name is Mackenzie Nicholson, and I am a private chef with INTUEAT, the chef de cuisine at Beano’s Cabin, and chef and owner of Mountain Girl Cooking.
How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?
I am a Colorado native who was lucky enough to be raised in the mountains. I previously worked in the valley, and I recently came back to the Avon area to take up the opportunity to work as the chef de cuisine at Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
I was exploring different career paths and have always loved good food. I thought I would give culinary school a try and fell in love. I enrolled in the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder in 2014. Being a chef pushes me every day to be better, and there is always something to learn in this industry, which makes it interesting.
Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
Dominique Creen has been a chef who I have followed throughout my culinary journey. To be the only female chef in America to attain three Michelin stars is pretty admirable. She highlights the importance of providing an experience for your guests, which I also think is the most important part of being a chef, alongside serving unique and delicious food.
What’s your favorite spice?
Green cardamom. I use it in so many different applications, and it works for both sweet and savory dishes.
Elk or antelope is my favorite protein. It’s not every day you see antelope on a menu.
Favorite fruits and veggies?
My favorite veggie is peas, they are very versatile and delicious, and I think they’re underrated. My favorite fruit is either a strawberry or pineapple.
Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?
Potatoes, whether they are mashed, fried, boiled or roasted, all forms are great and can work with almost any flavor profile you can think of.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
My favorite comfort food is biscuits and gravy, made with antelope sausage from animals my dad and I have harvested.