Meet the mastermind behind the delectable dishes at The Lodge & Spa Brush Creek Ranch: Executive Chef Drew Anderson, a Colorado native whose culinary style reflects his love of the Rocky Mountain region where he grew up. Chef Drew has an unparalleled knack for creating extraordinary meals, while keeping things approachable and he is passionate about crafting menus that include fresh, local ingredients. We recently caught up with Chef to find out more about what inspires him in the kitchen and what we can look forward to this season at Brush Creek Ranch.
Q: When it comes to cuisine, what sets Brush Creek Ranch apart from the competition?
CHEF: What sets us apart is the multiple ways in which we prepare all the food here on the ranch. Whether it’s a smoked brisket, roasted rack of lamb or a whole smoked suckling pig, we do everything with a little bit of a ranch twist to it. We have five separate venues (Trailhead Lodge, Chuckwagon, Creekside Camp, Yurts and Falcons Peak) that we use on a weekly basis to serve our guests. We cure and smoke the vast majority of our own seafood in house, we use Berkshire and Chester White pork from Colorado, Colorado Lamb (the best in the world in my opinion) and Certified Prime Black Angus Beef. We even cure some of our own meats in house including duck and goose prosciutto, pancetta, porchetta and bacon.
Q: What is your culinary vision for Brush Creek Ranch?
CHEF: My culinary vision is quite simple – to stay true to the ingredients. You won’t find a dish here with twenty different items on a plate (unless it’s something a guest wants of course). I want our guests to experience as much of the local food from the mountain West region as possible and for those ingredients to be fresh, seasonal and cooked perfectly. In the end I want our food to be approachable and at the same time, I want to give our guests the opportunity to try something they wouldn’t otherwise try at home.
Q: How do you get creative with cuisine at Brush Creek Ranch?
CHEF: I get creative when I’m with my team and we all start bouncing ideas off of each other. It’s the off season period that really gives us the opportunity to try out new ideas or put our own twist on something we’ve seen or tried in the past. I’d say our biggest inspiration comes when we get time to work with new ingredients or try preparing something in a completely different way than conventional cooking has taught us.
Q: Tell me more about the variety and quality of food offered.
CHEF: We have a wide range of offerings for our guests during breakfast, lunch and dinner. It may be a corned buffalo hash for breakfast, and for lunch – slow smoked pork ribs, brisket, and whole carved chicken with all the fixins. To cap the day off, we make a trip down to Creekside Dinner Camp with Carved Prime Rib, tea brined chicken, grilled Scottish salmon, along with a fresh salad bar, cowboy potatoes, venison chili, and freshly baked breads and desserts.
I really like to incorporate game meats into our menus as well – things like venison, duck, goose, bison and elk. Our venison chili is an all time favorite and that’s an example of how we might prepare a dish in a more familiar way to appeal to someone who’s never tried venison before. And as much as we love our meat out here in the west, we also take great pride in offering a variety of options for vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions. Non meat eaters will be equally as satisfied with the flavorful dishes we create.
Q: Tell me about the special experiences you create using different themes and locations around the Brush Creek Ranch property. How does the dining experience unfold?
CHEF: My favorite venue is definitely Creekside Camp. It’s a classic outdoor setting with two huge grills that we use hickory and pecan wood to cook on. We have cowboy cookers set up and use dutch ovens to cook on and an old wagon that we built to use as a cold station for appetizers like ceviche and salad with every topping you can imagine. All the guests sit at picnic tables around a huge campfire and we serve them straight off the grill. We have live music that adds something really special down there as well. We have two full bars with beer, great wine and cocktails with kid friendly drinks as well. Throughout the evening you can try some fly fishing or roping with our guides and wranglers on hand. After dinner, help yourself to housemade desserts or pull up a seat by the campfire and make some gourmet s’mores before heading back to the saloon for some late night fun.
Falcons Peak is another one of my favorite smaller venues. It’s great for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres or smaller gatherings for dinner. Falcons Peak is just fun because of its awesome views of the Platte River Valley and the surrounding Medicine Bow National Forest. Accompany that with a fresh raw bar of oysters, smoked scallops, snapper ceviche, tiger shrimp cocktail, and a nice glass of wine – it can’t be beat.
Jim’s Yurt is our most secluded and peaceful venue to do a meal at. It’s surrounded by lodgepole pines and aspens. The yurt has wooden floors with a beautiful gable at the entrance and out back there is a perfect firepit to get a nice campfire started. We do all kinds of different menus at the yurt and have live music there as well. A fun way to get to the yurt is on horseback, and then we’ll transport you back to the Lodge after dinner.
Thanks Chef Drew! Stay tuned for more news and updates from the Food and Beverage Department at Brush Creek Ranch including a sampling of Chef’s menus, profiles of other members of our culinary team and a glimpse into our wine cellar.