Summit Right Brain: Copper Mountain chef offers new Moonlight Dine & Ski menu
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A 1999 graduate of Colorado Mountain College Culinary Arts program in Summit County, Chef Dave Taladay has been working at Copper Mountain since 2001. At the resort, he is the chef of the Copper One facility, which includes the banquet, catering and special events for Jack’s Slopeside Grill and Jill’s Umbrella Bar. New this year, Copper is offering Moonlight Dine & Ski events on three evenings throughout the season, providing guests the opportunity to ride the chairlift to Solitude Station, located mid-mountain, before having dinner and then skiing down the mountain under the moonlight. Chef Taladay is the mastermind behind the menus for the new dinners, and the first one will be Saturday, Feb. 13 — the day before Valentine’s Day.
Summit Daily News: Tell us a little about your culinary background.
Dave Taladay: My first experience in the kitchen came in 1992 while I was working at a pizza shop in my hometown of Fort Collins called Cozzola’s Pizza. We made everything from scratch — something that I really enjoyed and, of course, still do. Those early days in the kitchen really inspired me to consider pursuing a culinary career. Colorado Mountain College was a perfect fit — I was able to get my degree in culinary arts while snowboarding almost every day. I was trained in classical French cooking and was fortunate to be able to intern at some great restaurants and facilities, like the Alpenglow Stube, Garden Room and Keystone Conference Center while at CMC. I graduated in 1999 and accepted a sous chef position at Keystone Resort. I quickly realized that my true culinary passion is banquets, catering and special events. In 2001, I was offered an opportunity to join Copper Mountain Resort’s evolving culinary team. I decided to move over and have been with the resort ever since.
SDN: What was the inspiration behind creating the new Moonlight Dine & Ski events?
DT: Great food, live entertainment and full moon riding. The feeling of night riding under a full moon is awesome.
SDN: What will be the highlight of the evening on Feb. 13?
DT: I guess that you will just have to come to find out. Seriously though, we are always looking for new ways to offer our guests unique experiences. I think that the chance to enjoy some good food up on the mountain before skiing down by moonlight is definitely going to be an experience to remember. In addition to my spread of deliciousness, pastry chef Ben Willoughby is creating a special Valentine’s Day dessert and Summit County local Beau Thomas will be performing during dinner as well.
SDN: What inspires you when creating new dishes?
DT: I like to allow the natural flavors of the food that I cook to take center stage. I have a passion for travel and am truly inspired by the different local cuisines that I have been fortunate enough to experience. I try to stay up on the latest culinary trends as well, using the best possible ingredients and a bunch of creativity.
SDN: You have a French classical training — how do you think that is reflected in your food?
DT: It is truly the foundation of everything that I cook. I try to blend fresh, local ingredients whenever possible with the French techniques that I was trained in to create a Colorado twist on the classics.
SDN: What do you think is the best piece of advice you could give to aspiring chefs?
DT: Life in the kitchen is definitely not the same as what is often portrayed on reality television. It definitely takes a lot of hard work to be a chef, but don’t be afraid to follow your dreams — or do dishes.
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