Past Top Chef winner in town for Beav’s culinary festival |

Past Top Chef winner in town for Beav’s culinary festival

Caramie Schnell
Special to the DailyChef Stephanie Izard's style is "ever-evolving," she said, based largely on where she's traveled most recently. But she always strives to "incorporate creativity into my dishes. My credo is that contrasting and complementary elements are essential, but balance is non-negotiable," she said.

The 2008 Top Chef winner, Stephanie Izard, is in town this week for Beaver Creek’s Master Chef Classic. Her (winning) strategy on the show was simple:

“I tried to just focus on the food, ‘Make sure it tastes good!’ I tried not to worry about all the drama and things around me that were going on, I concentrated on the flavors and on just being myself, which I think I pretty much did,” she said.

Izard owns a small-plate restaurant in Chicago called Girl and The Goat and she will be cooking plenty of goat while she’s here. While it’s her first time visiting the area, she likely won’t be getting in a whole lot of sightseeing – at least not today. This morning she’s busy prepping a three-course meal for the shoeshoe excursion and luncheon attendees at Grouse Mountain Grill. And tonight her and Jay McCarthy, from the Beaver Creek Chophouse, will be pitted against guest chef Joey Campanaro (The Little Owl) and local chef Michael Wilganowski (The Osprey), during The Master Chef Challenge, an Iron Chef-style cooking competition at the Vilar Center, which she said she’s “more excited than nervous for.” (The snowshoe excursion/luncheon is sold-out but the Master Chef Challenge is not. Visit to learn more.)

Izard took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.

1. Vail Daily: You are the sole woman chef in town for the Master Chef Classic. There are six other male chefs. Are those numbers – 6:1- indicative of the culinary scene in general?

Stephanie Izard: Weird, now that you say that, I guess that is the way it is. Thinking about chefs from around the country, and even cooks in my kitchen, men seem to dominate – well at least in numbers …

2. VD: You tweeted about matching velour jumpsuits having arrived in time for the “Beaver Creek event this weekend.” Will you be wearing those suits around town?

SI: Yes we will! Starting (Thursday) morning on the way to the airport!

3. VD: What will you be making for the snowshoe luncheon and excursion today?

SI: We are doing a three-course lunch to include goat belly with bourbon butter poached lobster, local striped bass with XO sauce (a spicy seafood sauce) and goat sausage, and finally whiskey fatback gelato with apples and miso marcona almond cake.

4. VD: What will you make for the grand tasting event Saturday?

SI: For the Grand Tasting we are making goat chili with hummus and fried chickpeas.

5. VD: What ingredients/dishes are you excited about lately?

SI: This week razor clams and cod cheeks are exciting me. It changes week to week, so it just depends.

6. VD: I read that your parents used to throw internationally-themed dinner parties when you were growing up. How did that affect your palate, and your decision to become a chef?

SI: I think I just equated eating good food with fun because there seemed to be an over abundance of both food and fun. It gave me an open mind to different foods from around the world.

7. VD: How do you describe your food?

SI: Tasty … I hope.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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