We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Vargoshe and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting your own business takes a lot of energy, time, money, sweat, tears and in some cases blood. Why did I do it? Freedom. I wanted freedom from the grueling restaurant lifestyle, freedom to create my own brand and financial freedom. I knew it was going to take a lot of work but in the end, it would be well worth it.

The thought of learning new cuisines and techniques, creating a different dish everyday, and escaping the toxic restaurant environment became more a reality the more I though about it. It was after a trip to Costa Rica, which included some much needed relaxation and reflection, that I decided to make the change. I left the restaurant and launched Elevated Cuisine. It has been fantastic. I now have time to test and develop recipes, experiment with different ingredients and travel to study different cuisines. It has also given me time to organize “table to farm” dinners as well as provide consultation work.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Talking about yourself is tough! That being said, creativity, knowledge of seasonal and local ingredients, and level of professionalism would be the main characteristics that set Elevated Cuisine aside from others.

The road to where I am professionally has certainly not been easy by any means. My first time in a kitchen was scary. I was 15, washing dishes, getting smacked with sides of striped bass as hazing rituals, getting “antiqued” and the many other glories of being a greenhorn in the kitchen. I loved it. The comradery, the realness of everything and everyone, the dangers of fire and sharp knives-it was exhilarating.

In college, I studied film and I feel that plays a major role in a lot of qualities I have developed throughout the years. After attending schools in Vermont, Utah and graduating from the University of Rhode Island, I worked in different kitchens before deciding to move to Colorado in 2009. I had a couple friends that lived in Steamboat Springs so I decided, why not? After getting settled and walking into the backdoor of every restaurant in town, I finally got a job. It wasn’t my first choice restaurant but it was a job. It didn’t take long to make friends with some cooks from my first choice restaurant. I began going to clean the kitchen after the shift for free until they gave me a job. For the next 11 years I busted my ass and learned as much as I possibly could. After climbing to the Executive Chef position, it took only a few years before I began thinking about falling into “the rut” or getting burnt-out. It was happening and I needed a change. Enter Elevated Cuisine.

All of this has taught me the importance of staying calm, improvisation, and networking. Another piece of advice I was given is that when things are rushed and poorly planned, they often fail. I guess the moral of this whole little story is that if you put your head down to achieve a goal, it can happen.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The activities you can do vary depend on the season, so lets say you’re visiting in the Fall, my favorite time of year. Things to do during the day would include fly fishing the many great spots along the Yampa River, hiking and foraging in the Flattops Wilderness Area, visiting Strawberry Park Hot Springs and throwing some frisbee golf. I will be sure to cook one of the nights so we’re also gonna have to stop into Steamboat Meat and Seafood to see Billy and Max for the freshest products around. Then its off to Bee Grateful Farms to say whats up to Jason and Hethir for my favorite produce in the valley. Having friends in the restaurant industry across the town has many benefits, we would have to visit Chef Joe at Mambo, Besame and Yampa Valley Kitchen (he’s a busy dude). Also can’t forget to say hi to Chefs Kate and Andy at Cafe Diva for the best fine dining in town. For the late night scene, if we’ve go any energy left, Sean at The Old Town Pub has the best live music in town. All that being said, Steamboat is a magical place and continues to awe with each changing season.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to start out by shouting out my wonderful fiance Megan for supporting me throughout this journey. As far as my culinary studies, theres a lot. Just a few from the top though- Dave Arnold, founder of the Museum of Food and Drink and host of the “Cooking Issues” podcast. He has inspired me to study the science behind cooking and what makes things taste good (and bad, for that matter). Listening to his podcast has brought me to learn the teachings of Harold McGee author of “On Food and Cooking” and Kenji Lopez-alt author of “The Food Lab”. These books should be a staple in any chef or person who is serious about cooking’s library.

Website: www.elevatedcuisinesteamboat.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elevated_cuisine_steamboat/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elevatedcuisinesteamboat

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