A little bit Vegas, a little bit New York City | VailDaily.com

A little bit Vegas, a little bit New York City

Wren Wertin

The general public is invited to reap the savory awards of Salamunovich’s idea, for $59 (not including alcohol, tax and gratuity) during regular dinner service Wednesday evening.

“It’s a wonderful thing for our staff to see the visions and creativity and exuberance of other individuals,” said an excited Salamunovich. “And it’s wonderful for me to learn from them, too. There’s such energy, and a diversion, when you have new people in the kitchen.”

The three chefs will be working side by side on each dish, dressed in kitchen whites. Robins wanted to serve something markedly different from Larkspur’s normal menu offerings, so his contributions incorporate his particular passion for Asian food: a tuna sashimi starter and a chinois lamb chop entree. He considers his sashimi to be a clean and simple dish, served with ponzu sauce, sushi rice and daikon salad. The rack of lamb is marinated in a vinaigrette, grilled, and served with a cilantro-mint pesto.

“I’ve really learned over the years to use quality ingredients, cook it well, and let it stand on its own,” said Robins. “I’ve cooked all over the world, and I really enjoy it. I find it to be not only inspiring but also a challenge.”

At Eleven Madison, Heffernan reinterprets dishes that pay homage to his classical French training as well as his American roots. In the spirit of Larkspur’s own “French soul,” he’s created a parmesan and truffle bread pudding with jambon de Bayonne (a French ham) for the starter. The entree will be a wild black bass with crab stuffing and marjoram jus – the inspiration of which emerged from Vail’s own Gore Creek.

“The bass began as a whole-roasted Thanksgiving bass,” explained Heffernan. “I’m a recreational fisherman, and I would catch enormous fish in the Gore Creek, very close to town. Big ones!”

Because parties of 12 don’t often wander into a restaurant, looking for a whole fish stuffed with crab, he began making smaller portions. The result will be served at the dinner.

Heffernan is part of the same restaurant group that is responsible not only for Eleven Madison Park, but also for Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern.

“His is one of the best restaurant groups in the country,” said Salamunovich. “Two of them are rated number one and two in Zagats.”

As for Robins, Spago Las Vegas is but one of his projects. Now a partner in the group, he spends his time overseeing restaurants from Chicago to Maui.

“It’s a lifestyle, is what it is.,” said Robins, laughing. “I enjoy food, wine, people.”

“Spago was the first true restaurant in Las Vegas,” explained Salamunovich.

Heffernan cooked in Larkspur’s kitchen last year, at the inaugural guest chef dinner. Though Robins and Salamunovich have known each other for decades, this will be the first time Robins has worked the line at Larkspur.

“It’s a challenge working with a new staff, but Thomas’ kitchen is set up so professionally it’s easy,” said Heffernan. “They’re excited to have you, and they’re looking to learn.”

For more information on the guest chef dinner, or to make a reservation, call Larkspur at 479-8050.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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