Local chef Christy Rost’s culinary career keeps her busy. As an author of three books, a television personality, an entertaining pundit and a cooking teacher, Rost spends a lot of time in the kitchen — either hers or someone else’s.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to take a passion and turn it into a career, and that’s what I’ve done,” she said.
Rost the author
Rost is one of three finalists in the Culinary Book category for this year’s High Plains Book Awards. The awards recognize regional authors and literary works that reflect life on the high plains, and the winners will be announced on Oct. 26.
“They will have a multi-day book festival, and it culminates in this High Plains Book Award banquet, so I will be attending with fingers crossed,” Rost said.
The book that was nominated for the award, “Celebrating Home: A Handbook for Gracious Living,” is Rost’s third.
“‘Celebrating Home’ is the result of finally being able to write about all the things I really love, everything about home I really love,” she said. “My other books were primarily cookbooks with little entertaining tips. Buw with ‘Celebrating Home,’ my publisher saw my to desire to talk about not just the cooking but the other elements that make a home joyful and peaceful.”
Recipes are adapted for both Texas, where Rost previously hosted her own cooking and lifestyle TV series, and the Colorado High Country.
“It works just as well in the plains as it does at high altitude, so if adjustments are necessary, they are reflected in my notes,” she said. “Besides that, I was also able to illustrate decorating ideas for the home, tablescapes, flower arranging and ways to welcome your guests and make them really feel warm and at home and that kind of thing.”
The additional elements incorporated into “Celebrating Home” were important to Rost because she thrives on entertaining.
“I’ve been known for my sense of hospitality, and I absolutely adore spoiling our guests, so in ‘Celebrating Home,’ I showed all those little touches that separate one event from another that make it really special, make my guests at ease and make them feel really spoiled.”
Rost the chef
This past weekend, Rost was a guest presenter at the Snowmass Culinary and Arts Festival, showcasing the natural flavors of Colorado cuisine.
“This is (the festival’s) fourth year, and I have been there since the beginning,” Rost said. “So each year, my role has increased a bit, and I go there for two things: I always present a cooking demo, and that’s when I get to talk about cooking with local ingredients and feature flavors of this beautiful state. And I do the Palate of Pairings, which is a two-hour food and wine extravaganza.”
Both events take place in one very full, very fun day, Rost said.
“This year, my demo was deconstructing the recipe I was using for the Palate of Pairings, and it was fun; I had a blast,” she said.
The seminar was titled “Deconstructing Delicious: What Makes the Flavors of Colorado So Fabulous?” and the recipe was a grilled smoky beef hanger steak with fire-roasted chilies and peppers served over field greens with dark sweet cherry balsamic vinaigrette. The dish took advantage of Colorado beef, locally grown onions, peppers and chilies, local greens and balsamic vinegar infused with flavor from Denver, Rost said.
“One guest told me, ‘I heard about this at the other end of the festival,’ and to me, that’s one of the greatest compliments,” she said. “The other is to see a guest come back for the fourth time — that’s high praise when they keep coming back because they love it.”
Students from Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge’s apprentice program help Rost with her various culinary projects, from food preparation for the Snowmass seminar to preparing and plating dishes to photograph for her cookbooks.
“I love to give the students opportunities that they might not have to do other kinds of things, see other ways that the culinary industry functions, through cookbooks or through culinary festivals and not just restaurants,” Rost said.
From featuring her restored 1898-era Breckenridge home, Swan’s Nest, in “Celebrating Home” to emphasizing Colorado produce and meats, there are touches of the High Country in all of Rost’s work.
“Living in Colorado definitely affects the recipes I create and the way I serve them,” she said. “I’m a frequent shopper at the Dillon Farmers’ Market, but I also love to buy local, even in the supermarket. When it says ‘Colorado grown,’ I’m there, that’s what’s in my basket.”
Rost said there’s a casual sense of living in Colorado but there’s also a really wonderful sense of hospitality here — neighbor helping neighbor, neighboring inviting neighbor to share what they have. She also puts a lot of focus in her books on recipes that can be made ahead so people can take advantage of their mountain surroundings and not spend the whole day in the kitchen.
“I do a lot of advance-preparation recipes, not labor intensive at the last minute,” she said. “They afford the person creating the recipe to go take a hike for the day and then come back and finish up. … So this is all part of embracing the lifestyle up here in the mountains.”
Whether it’s writing a book, teaching a seminar or cultivating the next generation of chefs, Rost approaches her work with enthusiasm.
“I’m so very fortunate to be able to do this in Colorado and in Summit County in particular,” she said. “I think there are great restaurants, chefs and food artisans up here anyway, and I get to enjoy that along with everyone else — and how fun!”