Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lodge Chef: Born to fish, forced to work

Head Chef Paul Raddon is serious about fish. And not just cooking it.

"On a good day, I’ll bring in 30 fish,” boasts Raddon, Alta Lodge chef since 1968.

And he’s not talking about the dozens of freshly bought fish he regularly loads into the lodge's walk-in refrigerator. Raddon prefers hooking his own.

Raddon—who prefers his nickname Cheffie—is an accomplished fly fisherman.

After decades of casting flies and learning the intricacies of the sport, Cheffie explains his motivation simply:

"I fish because the voices in my head tell me to."

Fishing the Provo River near Alta year-round, his most common cold-blooded adversaries are Cutthroat Trout and Brown Trout, which he catches by the dozens on good days.

But even on a bad day, a resolute Raddon refuses to be shut out. He’s spent too many days sharpening his skills on rivers from Yellowstone National Park to Hawaii—sniffing out new recipes all the while—to head home defeated.

“On a really bad day,” Cheffie concedes, “I’ll catch just one.”

But whether 30 fish hop into his boat or only one, each fish will live to swim another day. Cheffie practices pure catch and release; not a single fish he catches will hit his frying pan.

Other fish, however—those destined for the taste buds of Alta Lodge guests—won’t be so lucky. At least they'll go out in a flourish of the finest flavors.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Video: The Alta Post-Powder Day

Fresh tracks can always be found in Alta. Sometimes you just have to work harder to get them.

On Friday morning, Alta skiers awoke to find their favorite slopes--from High Rustler to Catherine's Area--cool and cozy under a blanket of snow 12" deep.

Several hours and thousands of powder turns later, the fresh tracks of the morning were only a memory. Powder thirst still not quenched, that's when many skiers strapped on their beacons, grabbed their shovels and probes, and headed to the Alta backcountry.

In this video shot today, local chef Jeff Moore takes the powder turns he earned on the trek up:

Powder Run in the Alta Backcountry 1/10/09 from WPP on Vimeo.

Check out more Alta skiing videos on the sidebar to the right.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pow Day Gets Rave Reviews

"We didn't think you'd make it!" Ryan said when he saw me, still covered in snow.

"I was super lucky," I admitted.

I only realized just how lucky I was when I arrived home at the Alta Lodge at 6:45pm. Earlier that day the forecast was only calling for a few inches, so I descended the canyon at 1:00pm for a doctor's appointment in the Salt Lake valley. But the snow gods smiled, and while I was in the valley it snowed almost a foot! As a result, the Utah Department of Transportation decided to close the road to Alta at 7:00pm. I did make it back--with a mere 15 minutes to spare--but I missed some great skiing today.

"So much fun!" is all that Jason, a local bartender, could say of the ski day.

With 21" of beautiful powder in the last 24 hours, I believe him.

Other rave reviews of the ski day heard around the lodge include:
  • "Four runs on Wildcat, first tracks, no problem." -Ryan, Front Desk
  • "So sick today!" -Steve, Cook
  • "We did 13 High Boy runs in a row; we started at noon and caught last chair." -Paul, Baker
  • "I skied really fast. It was hero pow." -Brian, Dining Room
  • "Sick, sick." -Ben, Dining Room
Up to a foot more snow is forecasted for tonight, so the skiing tomorrow promises to be even better.

THIS is an Alta winter. Stay tuned for more pow updates.

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