Friday, December 14, 2018
Sun Valley Resort Chef Gears Up for Another Winter of Tradition
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Jim Snyder, third from right , helped cook up burgers and brats with his co-workers on the Warm Springs patio during the 2018 U.S. Alpine Championships.
 
Friday, November 16, 2018
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

When Jim Snyder was a youngster, his grandmother would send him out with a wooden bucket to collect raspberries and marionberries growing around her home in St. Helens, Ore.

She then showed him how to make the perfect pie crust using a 50/50 blend of butter and lard.

It’s an experience that stuck with Snyder as he went on to make pies for Marie Callender as a teen-ager and, later, a hearty turkey pot pie that he couldn’t keep on the shelves at Four Points Lodge in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

 
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Jim Snyder will help oversee the renovation of the employee cafeteria, which will feature a pizza station and more goodie.
 

Snyder ended up making food his career, working for 30 years in the ski industry after beginning his career as executive vice president of Good Earth restaurants, a pioneering concept in the natural food industry.

Today he’s Sun Valley Resort’s food and beverage director in charge of 350 employees who work in Sun Valley’s 20 restaurants.

“We’re really glad he’s here,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, director of marketing for Sun Valley Resort. “People are enjoying his food offerings.

Snyder was lured away from Steamboat Springs, where he oversaw 80 restaurants in six North American resorts for Intrawest, just in start for Sun Valley’s 2016-17 winter ski season.

“What sets Sun Valley apart is its tradition,” said Snyder. “It’s particularly festive over the holidays with its Christmas Eve ice show and torchlight parade, the carolers strolling from restaurant to restaurant and all the Winter Wonderland things. So many other places focus now is on modern, modern, modern.”

Sun Valley’s kitchen and restaurant facilities are also far better than any place else Snyder has worked—right down to the caliber of the chairs.

“And it’s not commercialized here. Other resorts have sponsors written in neon everywhere you go. Sun Valley is classy. It’s very classy,” he said.

Snyder has reaped many fond memories working in the food industry. As vice president of food and beverage director for American Skiing Company based in Park City, Utah, he oversaw the “Today” show venue at Canyons Resort during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

It meant getting going at 3 every morning since the “Today” show crew began broadcasting to the East Coast crowd at 4 a.m. But he got to meet all the medalists who had won the night before as he escorted them to the Green Room.

“Katie Couric was the nicest woman.  After the show was over, she would stand behind the omelet station asking people what they wanted on their omelets as a way for all her fans to get a few minutes to talk with her,” he recalled.

Snyder has presided over the remodel of the iconic Ram Restaurant, where the Hokey Pokey was invented. He helped preserve its heritage while sprucing it up.

He added some of his personal favorite Italian dishes to the menu at the Village Station when it opened last winter.

And he’s tried his best to make sure every restaurant sports a signature dish, as well as some affordable items.

“At Four Points Lodge we made 300 turkey pot pies a day and we still ran out,” he said. “I want the kind of thing where, when your cousin comes in from another state, you say, ‘You’ve got to go to River Run Lodge to give such and such a try.’

“People are basically looking for familiar dishes done in exemplary ways. Everyone wants to cut corners on items like pot pie. But if you do that, it’s no good. You have to have consistency. You have to make sure the carrots are cut the same way for each pie, that each pie has just as much turkey as the other, and that that you have a good roux made from scratch.”

He spearheaded the introduction of Konditorei Warm Springs to give people a place to get their espresso and cappuccino fix when the Warm Springs Lodge reopens following the devastating fire that followed the ski season last April.

And he will also introduce a few new salads to the restaurant, including a chicken and avocado salad and the Mother Earth salad that proved so popular last winter at Seattle Ridge Lodge.

One of his biggest surprises is how the Village Station sells more wine than beer, despite its all the beer on tap. Not to say that beer sales aren’t robust, he hasten to add.

“A lot of people are loving the Village Station—it’s affordable and fun. And, while the chicken piccata is the most popular dish there, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of takeouts there--people love taking a couple pastas, salad and cheesy bread home with them.

The Ram is doing well, as well, said Snyder.

“We did double the business last year. Mrs. Holding did a nice job of keeping the tradition but updating it.”

The Snyder family loves living here, Snyder said, with the children taking to band and basketball and his wife setting up her interior design business.

“I love the passion of the locals and visitors and second homeowners,” he added. “They’re very, very local to the Sun Valley brand.”

 

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