With a sprinkle of innovation and a pinch of passion, Chef Culver is gearing up to transform dining into an après-ski experience that rivals the joy of the first chairlift ride of the season. Get ready to have your après-ski expectations elevated and your palates delighted, as our chef is all set to dish out a menu that's as thrilling as the mountain itself. Stay tuned, because Holiday Valley is about to become your go-to destination not just for the slopes but for the tales of culinary delight!
1. How did you get started in the culinary world and what inspired you to become a chef?
To be completely honest, I feel as if the culinary world found me, rather than me choosing it. Don’t get me wrong, I have created some remarkable situations in my culinary career, but I really feel like this path was predetermined for me. I got started in the culinary world because I was broke and hungry. Like most great cooks, I started washing dishes and in doing so, I realized that the kinetic energy I found in that setting was an incredible inspiration for me and kickstarted my journey to becoming a chef!
2. Can you share some highlights from your culinary journey before joining Holiday Valley?
There are many! My mentor from The Culinary Institute of America, Chef Xavier LeRoux, sent me to southern France to study in 2001. I was there for a year and it was an incredible experience. The Inn at Little Washington was the next stop on my journey! I really started to sharpen my knives there. Then I was chosen to work under Chef Eric Ziebol, in Washington D.C. He was the former Chef De Cuisine from the French Laundry. Probably my most notable accomplishment was an opportunity to interview for the sous chef position at the White House. During that process, I prepared a three-course meal at the White House. To this day, I remain humble and proud of that opportunity!
3. How do you anticipate working at a ski resort will differ from working in a traditional restaurant setting?
Nothing really changes! People are people. I’m looking forward to making people happy! From my staff to our guests, the goal is to make sure that people are enjoying themselves. Accomplishing that will bring me a lot of joy in my job.
4. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how have they shaped you as a chef?
This industry is extremely tough and the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to never give up. That lesson came in very handy when I became a father. Chef life is grueling and unforgiving, but I learned there’s nothing like trying to balance being a parent and being a chef. I feel truly blessed to always have had amazing support from friends and family.
5. Who have your mentors been?
Chef Xavier LeRoux- Escoffier Restaurant. CIA. Classical French Cuisine.
Chef Patrick O’Connell- The Inn at Little Washington. Refined American Cuisine.
Chef Erik Ziebold- City Zen. Refined Nouvelle Cuisine.
Chef Thomas Keller- The French Laundry.
My cooking style is deeply rooted in French and Italian Cuisine. However, I am well versed in many styles.
6. What is a dish that you created in the past that you’re particularly proud of, or one that you would say you are known for?
I always respectfully laugh at this question. Its like asking a musician what their favorite song is. I would answer this question by saying, “you be the judge! I just focus on proper technique for whatever dish I am creating.”
7. How do you keep up with culinary trends and how have you incorporated them into your previous roles?
In my opinion, culinary trends are often location-based. What might be a trend in one area, may not be in another. I prefer to listen to my customers and give them what they want. At the same time, I always make it a point to be true to myself and my cooking principles.
8. What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your culinary career?
To always believe in yourself and stay humble. We really reap what we sow! Show lots of love and respect.
9. Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently in your career path to get to where you are today?
Not one! I’m always trying to look forward!
10. Do you ski/ snowboard?
I love to ski!
11. What about this new opportunity are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to contributing and being part of my new Holiday Valley family. I am also extremely excited about applying everything I have trained for in the past 30 years!