Familiar food, but with a global twist in Breckenridge
There are plenty of sandwiches to be found around Summit County. Few menus, however, feature the usual BLTs and turkey clubs rubbing shoulders with combinations inspired by French, Vietnamese and other international styles. One such place is Park and Main, found at the south end of Breckenridge’s Main Street in La Cima mall. The doors opened in June 2012 and ever since the restaurant has worked to bring a global influence to the food on its menu.”We source the best ingredients we can and get that in between two pieces of bread and present it to our guests,” said co-owner and corporate chef Todd Nelson. Nelson worked with his brother, Ken Nelson and their partner Chris Galceran, on the concept for Park and Main for nearly a year before its opening last summer. This isn’t the first food-based venture for the Nelson brothers. They also manage Giampietro Pasta & Pizzeria, Empire Burger and Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon. Todd, as a classically-trained chef, covers the main food aspects of the various restaurants. His main job, he said, is menu development and training. Lately he’s been putting a lot of work into Park and Main, not only because it’s the latest venture, but because it also hosts the most changeful and experimental menu.”We wanted to bring in global flavors, use high-quality ingredients that you see on very high-end menus, but bring it down to a level and to a price point that was approachable for a wide audience,” said Todd, about the Park and Main concept. “And then bring in those global flavor profiles that we felt were kind of missing in Breckenridge, (that) were not represented well. Not that we’re doing any traditional styles, Asian or Mediterranean or anything else, but bring those flavors in and put it into the marketplace in Breckenridge where I thought it wasn’t really there.”Park and Main offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a variety of options. Breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches segue into a large variety of lunch sandwiches in addition to soup and salad options. In the evening, customers can continue to order sandwiches or choose from a list of dinner entres. Rather than being fixed, the entre list changes from day to day, offering returning customers different options each time. One example of how Park and Main puts a twist on its food is the flat iron steak. At a restaurant like Briar Rose, Ken explains, ordering a flat iron steak would be a typical American-style meal. At Park and Main, however, it comes with a spicy carrot slaw and red curry sauce, adding a different kick and flavor to an old favorite.Much of what Todd works on with his menu development is mixing and matching various flavor profiles, searching for just the right combination. “This is the laboratory,” he said, explaining that the concept behind Park and Main is to put new, different or international twists on food. “Having the global influence and flavor profiles that we do allows us to really take chances and do different things on a continual basis. We’re continually changing.”
In the year of planning before Park and Main opened, Ken and Todd decided that they needed to conduct some research on different food styles and flavors. So, they took a trip to New York. “The glamour and the fun part is creation,” said Ken, of starting up another restaurant business, “and eating food in New York and coming back here with a camera full of photos, and also stories.”The brothers did their research and then spent ten days eating their way around the Big Apple.”You can only eat nine or ten meals a day,” said Ken of the experience. “We had a marathon of eating,” Todd added.They visited as many places as they could, including breakfast shops, hole-in-the-wall sandwich and pizza joints, and whatever else they could find, all with the purpose of discovering some new and different ideas for putting food together, something that would represent a variety of international flavors and styles.”You try to find out what makes that business successful and can I take part of what they’re doing and translate it to Breckenridge and bring some of that here and make it work,” Todd said.While he didn’t copy any New York recipe exactly, he said he found plenty of inspiration, which has made its way into menu items at Park and Main. Two examples are the zucchini parm and the roasted salt and pepper sweet potato sandwiches. “So, conceptually, those were two really unique items that we saw, tasted and kind of made our own and brought to Breckenridge,” Todd said. “That’s part of the creative process,” Ken agreed, “is taking those ideas that have been already done somewhere and then twisting it your way, adding it to your direction.”
In studying the market before bringing Park and Main into being, the partners focused on the perceived needs and unique aspects of Breckenridge. There’s a lot of walking traffic, for instance, which makes portable take-away sandwiches a perfect meal for many. A wide variety of backgrounds make tastes and preferences challenging to discern.”It’s very dynamic,” Todd said. “We really have a global draw, so we certainly want to deliver to our local clientele, something they’re looking for, but we also have to take into account we’ve got people from different backgrounds and ethnicities and parts of the country that are coming in.”Ken added that the palettes of locals also tend to be more sophisticated than they have been in the past and therefore more accepting of more international or exotic foods.”People are looking for those flavors,” he said.While creating its unique flavor profiles, Park and Main does its best to focus on sustainable, organic and, as much as possible, local ingredients. The entre menu will change depending on seasonality and availability of ingredients. Soups and stocks are made from scratch and vegetables are pickled in-house. Preference is given to produce and products from local or nearby vendors.”It’s nice to be able to spend our money with the guys who are next door,” Ken said. “The closer we can keep it, it just feels right.”
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