‘Elevated everyday dining’: Summit County picks local Matt Vawter of Rootstalk as best chef

'Elevated everyday dining' brings Summit-local success at Rootstalk in Breckenridge

Matt Vawter, head chef and owner of Rootstalk, won Best Chef for Best of Summit 2022.
Colorado Mountain College/Courtesy photo

As the weather changes, Rootstalk’s menu morphs, too. 

Dishes overflowing with the bright colors of summer harvests give way to plates decorated with orange, yellow and red produce. As winter sets in, the colors fade when braised meats and root vegetables take over. You know it’s spring at Rootstalk when the plates come alive again as fresh greens, morel mushrooms and rainbow chard get their time to shine. 

While head chef and owner Matt Vawter is always crafting his next set of five- and seven-course meals or a la carte items, one thing remains the same: technique-driven dishes and beverages made with thought and intention.

“I really believe that restaurants are all about the experience. It’s not just the food. It’s not just the wine,” Vawter said. “It’s all the little things that happen across the two-and-a-half, three hours you’re there.”

The kitchen lives by its concept of elevated everyday dining. 

Spanish octopus takes the forefront in this dish, created by Rootstalk owner and head chef Matt Vawter, featuring a spicy tomato broth, saffron aioli, fingerling potatoes and ‘nduja.
Matt Vawter/Courtesy photo

From the servers to the people behind the stove, everyone is tasked with creating a dining experience that brings both a sense of familiarity and excitement. 

“There’s memories behind food, right? … When you really have a special meal, whether that is at a restaurant or at home, you can remember all of the small details — what you ate, who you were with, what the conversation was about. I think that’s something we do,” Vawter said. “We want to create that experience for people.”

A Summit County local, Vawter fell in love with cooking after he worked at a diner at the age of 14. He quickly moved on to fine-dining establishments, soaking up skills and experience at various places for the past 23 years. 

He returned to Summit County from a stint on the Front Range to build a team and open Rootstalk in December 2020. 

“I can’t reiterate enough that the bigger successes at this point in my career is less about creating a dish or putting food on a plate. It’s more about seeing young cooks become really great chefs and honing their craft,” Vawter said. “That’s where I really see my role as being most influential.”

Rootstalk is located at 207 N. Main St. in Breckenridge. It is open daily from 4 p.m. to close. Visit for more information.

This story previously published in the Best of Summit guide. See complete results at

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