Caprari brings new flavors, old passion to Breckenridge
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS
BRECKENRIDGE – The summer Jeremy Caprari was 12 years old, he got into trouble, earning himself a punishment that would eventually change his life. That summer, Caprari, his brother and a friend went out with a BB gun Caprari’s brother had gotten for Christmas to shoot birds. Caprari thought he’d gotten the best shot of the day when he hit a bird perched on a nearby power line.
“So this bird lands right in front of my little brother and his friend and they freaked out and called my dad,” Caprari said, laughing at the memory.
Dad, a chef who split his time between restaurants in Naples, Florida and Long Island, New York, wasn’t happy and as a punishment, put Caprari to work in his kitchen.
Caprari never left.
As years passed and Caprari learned to cook under his father, the punishment became a passion and the passion eventually became a career.
“That’s pretty much where I started my career was getting in trouble,” Caprari said. “By the time I was fifteen I was one of (my father’s) head cooks. I began to gain this huge passion for it and I wanted to soak up as much as I could learn. I wanted to be better than anybody around me.”
Caprari went on to culinary school at Johnson and Wales in north Miami and spent the next several years working under celebrated chefs all over the country.
In March of 2010, Caprari was following in his father’s footsteps, splitting his time between restaurants in Michigan in the summer and Aspen in the winter, when he got the call he’d been waiting for. The executive chef at the Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center in Breckenridge offered him a job as sous-chef. Caprari took the job, returning – with his wife and 1-year-old son – to the town where he was born and spent the first few years of his life. Months later he was promoted to executive chef.
Caprari’s parents were “ski bums” who owned a restaurant in Breckenridge until he was 3 years old, when they moved to Florida.
“It was so surreal,” Caprari said of his return to Breckenridge. “I’m so happy to settle down. I’ve been looking forever for a place in Breckenridge.”
Now, Caprari is settling in at Beaver Run. When Caprari became head chef, his former employees followed him to Breckenridge from all over the country, allowing him to staff his kitchen with a team of people with “the same passion for what we do,” he said.
A fourth-generation chef, Caprari learned to cook by watching masters at work, but said with his own staff he tries to avoid the hot-tempered leadership style he saw in his father and mentors in the kitchen.
“I worked for a guy, he was one of the most amazing chefs I’ve ever met in my life, but he drank all the time and he would punch holes in the walls,” Caprari said. “And I always thought in my mind, this is not the way I want to run my kitchen. I more or less run my kitchen now by empowering my people.”
The system at Beaver Run, free from the rigid corporate structure of a larger resort, gives him the space to empower his staff, to encourage their creativity and to use his own. Caprari designs the menus at Beaver Run and has the freedom to experiment with recipes or introduce new ones.
“(They) really let me be me here,” Caprari said. “I have that authority here where I can run my own show. It really is an enjoyable place to teach, to be creative and to impress a lot of people.”
Caprari has a daughter from his first marriage who lives in Florida. His son is already a regular in his father’s kitchen. Caprari said he will probably start teaching his son to cook as soon as he’s old enough to read the recipe book. But as for fifth generation chefs in the Caprari family, nothing has been decided yet.
“I can’t wait for the opportunity to be able to pass on some of my knowledge,” Caprari said. “But it’s a lot of work. I’d like to see them do something that involves a little bit more money.”
SDN reporter Caddie Nath can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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