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.

Comment on this post
View comments

No comments: