Splendido’s newly remodeled kitchen shines | VailDaily.com

Splendido’s newly remodeled kitchen shines

Ted AlvarezVail, CO, Colorado
AE Splendido1 SM 6-27-07

As the old cooking adage goes, you cant make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. But renovations at Splendido in Beaver Creek involved breaking a few walls, too.Before the gleaming fixtures and self-draining shellfish drawers were put in, contractors had to demolish large sections of the original kitchen, designed in 1991. Head chef and general manager David Walford showed me mid-construction pictures that look like an eatery in downtown Basra after a tactical strike.There were sparks and dust flying everywhere it really looked like a bomb went off, said Walford. In 2000, things were really starting to fall apart. Kitchens are like roofs or a driveway every 10 years, you have to replace pieces and parts. I said, OK, if were going to take apart the kitchen to fix it, we might as well make it the way it should be.

With the (Chateau) homeowners blessing and assistance, we came up with a new scheme for this place. They didnt want anything second rate, and thats a huge vote of confidence for me, all my employees and the food we aspire to create. Im nothing without them (the employees and homeowners) make it real.The original kitchen was serviceable, but it quickly grew cramped and began to show serious wear-and-tear as it aged. Walford longed to create a cooking space that matched Splendidos ambitions a space that mirrored the great kitchens of Europe with their attention to space, detail and interaction between cooks.Most kitchens dont have the features (well have) thats because kitchen designers often arent chefs, Walford said. Before, we had cooks all in a line, whereas French kitchens use islands so the cooks are looking at each other and nobody has to wait in line. It creates a three-dimensional atmosphere thats much better for collaboration.While standing in his designated spot at the head of the kitchen, Walford waved his hand across the gleaming surfaces at the open, interconnected and highly specialized stations (pastry, sauces, bakery, shellfish, wood-fired ovens) taking shape before us.I can see pretty much the whole kitchen from here, he said. Its like conducting the symphony; thats pretty much what its all about.

Walford was largely able to create the kitchen of his dreams because of the invested and interested homeowners at The Chateau whove appreciated and cheered on his culinary efforts for the length of his 13-year tenure at Splendido.I think Davids at the top in his field and I think all the owners are very happy he keeps their investment going, said Jim Schorsch, a year-round resident at The Chateau. I always feel like eating at Splendido is like eating at home; its something unique but it has that feeling of comfort. Every time I eat there, I have a rack of lamb. I say Im going to have something else, but I never do.Schorsch was happy to trust Walford on his suggestions for a new kitchen.I dont know anything about kitchens, Schorsch said. But he explained where there was no space, and how everything could work better. Its so nice now there should be a table for people who want to have dinner in the kitchen.Summer resident Marc Seriff wondered how Splendido could possibly improve on their already crowd-pleasing formula.

Its hard to get excited about the food getting better because of where they started from, Seriff said. What got me most excited was how excited David was hes like a father with a new kid.Splendidos lamb always remains popular among guests and residents, but Seriff loves Walfords occasional specials, like buffalo tenderloin and lemon souffle with blueberries.Its not only one of the best in town, its 40 yards away, he said. Weve got a gem right here in the building.Walford plans to start off slow in the new kitchen but eventually ramp up new offerings as the winter season moves into the mountains.I think well keep it conservative and get used to the new arrangements rather than being too bold, he said. Well get bigger and bolder in the winter, maybe experiment with big parties and weddings.

Walford has enjoyed watching the contractors work their own artistic magic as they install custom features like the wood-fired oven, self-cleaning hood system, heated plate cabinets and personalized, lock-and-key drawers for each cook to keep his or her knives and tools. To thank them and test-drive his new kitchen, Walford threw the contractors a dinner party the night before Splendidos re-opening.Ive seen real talent in these contractors the stainless steel guys do things I couldnt imagine, he said. How the electricians and the plumbers make sense of all those wires and things and tie it all together so cleanly is just amazing. If diners get curious about the new cold station or are interested in the retractable brass heat lamps, they neednt wonder in vain: Simply ask the chef for a tour.Lots of restaurants have this attitude of, oh, you cant come back here, sir, please back off we invite people in, Walford said. Theres nothing secret we keep it clean and safe. If I were eating at a restaurant, Id want to check it out. We see people peeking in, and we love saying, hey, come on back, and they love it, too.Im proud to have people come back into my kitchen.Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism