Getting to know … Thomas Salamunovich |

Getting to know … Thomas Salamunovich

Sarah L. Stewart
VT Thomas Salamunovich TS 02-02-08

He’s studied under Wolfgang Puck and cooked in renowned kitchens in Paris and San Francisco.

But since 1993, Thomas Salamunovich has been making his mark on the Vail Valley. He arrived to be executive chef of Sweet Basil and six years later opened Larkspur with his wife, Nancy Sweeney. The restaurant now employs 120, and Salamunovich has expanded his projects to Larkburger in Edwards, the Arrabelle’s Centre V (where he’s a consultant) and Watermark Restaurant, which he’ll open at Avon’s new Westin in August.

Though he says they don’t teach you how to run a restaurant in chef school, it seems Salamunovich’s transition is complete: He now considers himself more restaurateur than chef.

It’s totally different. Watermark is food of the West. … (At Larkspur) the food is more refined; (at Watermark) it’s just really about the perfect roasted chicken, hopefully.

There’s no such thing as a favorite style. … I never understand when chefs (have favorites). It’s food. To touch food is a wonderful thing.

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It’s the ability to give something that you made to people that will hopefully give them pleasure and satisfaction and nourishment. It’s really about (being) able to share something that you’ve made … and you hope that it’s good enough. The main goal isn’t to come off well, it’s to provide. To give hospitality.

Technique. If there’s one thing that you can never learn enough of, it’s technique. (Anyone) can teach you something. I get more ideas at home. I actually get a ton from my spouse.

Everyone likes to think of chefs as artists. … We’re far more tradesmen. (Technique is) something as simple as when you cut an avocado and you want to dice it: (About five years ago, someone suggested crushing the halves with a metal grate instead of slicing it in your hand with a knife.) That might seen like a nothing technique (but when you’re dicing hundreds of avocados a week, there’s difference in speed, consistency and safety).

It’s a small community, and so it’s very different in that aspect. … It is a wonderful place to live.

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