22 Jan 2015, 10:02am
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Chef Bud Creates an Elevated Dining Experience at Mountain Lodge Telluride

Chef Bud Thomas at The View at Mountain Lodge

Chef Bud Thomas at The View at Mountain Lodge

“We’re delighted to have Chef Bud with us,” says Neil Hastings, Sales and Marketing Director for Mountain Lodge Telluride during a recent dinner at this renowned place of lodging in Mountain Village. “He really elevates our food and wine experience here at The View Bar and Grill.”

Ever since word began to leak out this fall that Chef Bud Thomas was leaving Rev, the signature restaurant of the Hotel Madeline and the establishment he catapulted to Forbes Travel Guide five-star and AAA five-diamond standing over the course of the more-than two years he worked there as Chef de Cuisine, diners in-the-know have been abuzz about this unexpected change.

The Breathtaking Great Room and View of The View

The Breathtaking Great Room and View of The View

“I’ve really come full circle,” Chef Bud tells me as we munch on savory appetizers and sip drinks within the spectacular Great Room of Mountain Lodge where The View is situated. “I think this is closer to my roots,” he continues as he fills me in on his trajectory which took him from working in a family fish restaurant in Phoenix to a Michelin-starred establishment in London and then eventually to Telluride where he first worked at The Peaks. “I do well at high-end properties, however, this is where I’m really comfortable,” Bud tells me with his irrepressible enthusiasm and high energy. “I’m genuinely really excited about being here.”

And he’s here at the Lodge in full force. As Director of Food and Beverage (or Chef and B as they say in the food biz), he oversees all from what’s happening in the kitchen to what’s doing behind the bar and in the front of the house. In the short amount of time he’s been at The View, he transformed the restaurant into a stunning dining room resplendent with glittering glassware, candlelight, cloth napkins and Laguiole cutlery. He even brought in his high-tech sound system from home, which gives this remarkable space a real vibe. Depending on who’s working the bar, the music ranges from a funky, lounge-y mood to light rock. “We’re trying to play to the room,” adds Steve Togni, General Manager of Mountain Lodge, as we nibble on our apps.

“Everything but the ketchup is house made,” Chef Bud tells me. Fresh tortilla chips skirt the Chips & Queso, a luxurious green chili cheese dip crafted of Emmental Gruyère, Parmigiano Reggiano and Wisconsin jack and cheddar cheeses. Flavorful and crunchy honey-sriracha chicken wings serve as the perfect accompaniment to watching an afternoon game from one of The View’s big-screen TVs. More refined small plates include bresaola, air-dried beef from Utah served with house made fennel mustard as well as marinated mushrooms and grilled flatbread topped with herb goat cheese, baby kale, candied pecans and fig syrup.

A New Year's Eve Après-Ski Toast at the View with My Guy Steve Togni and Family

A New Year’s Eve Après-Ski Toast at the View with My Guy Steve Togni and Family

Arrive while it’s still light to enjoy the alpenglow against the majestic San Sophia Ridge. Windows and glass doors reach seventy-five feet up from the stone floor to the wood-timbered ceiling, providing some of the best panoramic views in Telluride. As night falls, you’ll be wooed by the play of blue light and steam emanating from the Lodge’s outdoor pool and hot tub as snow-covered gondola cabins sail by. Dining at The View’s black-lacquered tables is swell but be sure to carve out time to sink yourself into one of their big, comfy velvet couches fireside. No other place in Telluride offers such a handsome ski lodge ambiance and their four-way fireplace is indisputably the biggest and most impressive within our beloved ski town.

By now Chef Bud has brought out two bottles of pinot noir, an A by Acacia and an Orogeny, two delicious reds at very different price points, representative of the thought that’s gone into The View’s carefully honed wine list. Both offset our main dishes beautifully. I reveled in the braised lamb shank, served with creamy polenta, Brussels sprouts and pistachio gremolata. This impressive piece of caramelized Colorado lamb, which had cooked for close to ten hours, revealed a complexity of flavors worthy of a high-brow dining establishment. But best of all, I tasted a lot of love. Really.

Isn’t that what good food is all about? There’s no doubt that Chef Bud and his team at The View put heaps of it into everything they do and serve here. They opened the season with a Thanksgiving spread for over 125 people consisting largely of the crew of “The Hateful Eight,” Quentin Tarantino’s film that’s being made in Telluride, They’ve been staying at Mountain Lodge as well and they were among the first to discover that Chef Bud has created a bastion of good food and fun at The View.

“Now I’m hoping that word will catch on with the locals and second home owners,” Bud tells me.

“No doubt it will,” I respond as I nibble on his signature dessert, a salted caramel popcorn sundae dressed with dark chocolate sauce, chili peanuts and homemade chantilly cream. “Your cheesecake is off the charts, too,” I add as I savor a lemony bite of this creamy delight.

“It’s topped with Grand Marnier-macerated berries,” Bud adds.

We conclude the evening with Prosecco toasts to Chef Bud’s new life at Mountain Lodge Telluride.

“The wow factor of the food now matches the wow of the room,” I say.

Elevated indeed.

Mountain Lodge Telluride:  A Great Place for Dinner and Lodging

Mountain Lodge Telluride: A Great Place for Dinner and Lodging

The View at Mountain Lodge Telluride is open to lodge guests and others daily throughout the winter season for breakfast from 7:30 to 10:30a.m.; après ski from 2 to 9p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9p.m. The bar remains open according to the crowd.

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