Filed under: Grubbin, Lifestyle, Travel | Tags: new mexico, snowboarding, taos ski valley
Yes, I’m frostsmitten. Winter’s barely over and I already miss snowboarding. This season I made it out to some amazing resorts in New Mexico, among them the steep-steeped Taos Ski Valley. The family-run resort is largely expert terrain, but who knew it served up talent on the slopes and in the kitchen?
It turns out the cooksmith who designed and delivered the delectable dishes at resort restaurant Rhoda’s is a 21-year old Kansas kid named Vincent Reif. What a McTwist! The Pop caught up with him between runs to get the scoop…
How’d you end up at Taos Ski Valley?
I was living in Alaska snowboarding, working my first cooking job and looking for something different. I just kind of picked a place on the map.
Alask-huh? I thought you were from Kansas.
I grew up there and we didn’t have mountains. Every two years my dad would take me. I never had snow gear, I was always in like, jeans and a shirt. As soon as I left home I was like, I’m moving to the mountains to snowboard. I was 18. I left the day of graduation, two hours after. I jumped on a plane, went to Florida for a week, and went straight to Alaska. I stayed at Alyeska, an amazing mountain with different terrain and unbelievable powder. In Alaska, there’s also a lot of back country. This is my first year on this mountain.
How do you go from a seasonal job to running the show?
Um, I’m really quick learner. I’ve been fortunate to work with really good chefs. And then there are the 90 hour weeks. Combine those and I ended up here.
Is your menu all stuff that you like to eat at home?
There is actually stuff on the menu that I’m allergic to and have never eaten, like my Tortilla Crusted Chicken. I’m allergic to corn.
But you’re in New Mexico!
Right? I have never eaten it. It just sounded really good in my head and everybody seems to love it so there’s that. My Crunchy Fried Steak is breaded in three different types of flour. One is maseca which is corn flour so I can’t really eat that. I just kind of nibble and get rid of it.
Where does the inspiration come from?
I have about $500 worth of cookbooks that I like to stroll through. Everybody’s like, “I bet you cook so much at home,” but I’m in a kitchen 14 hours a day. I go out to eat. That’s another place where I get a lot of my ideas. Some people would say that’s ripping off but I always twist it up and do my own thing.
Do you do your thing in the terrain park?
I’m not a big park rider but I have been wanting to hit the tabletops and the jumps lately. I’m not a fan of grooms. I like getting off the trails, in the trees, and just going fast.
Describe the snowboarding vibe at Taos Ski Valley.
The snowboarders here are a little more mellow. Maybe it’s because they just got the mountain open [to snowboarding last season] and are trying to play it safe right now.
How often do you get to ride?
I didn’t get up til after the first of the year because I was getting the restaurant together. I have been up pretty much every day since. At work, I cut down from six to seven nights a week to six to five. I’ve been coming in the morning getting everybody set up and then I take off for the mountain. I come back and get ready for the night.
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