SNOWMASS VILLAGE - I know that some Villagers will say there's more than one, but there's really only one young lady in Snowmass that goes by the name The Village Tart.
"I really like dessert," said Lynn Olson, the creator and owner of The Village Tart, a gourmet catering business based in Snowmass Village. "I wanted (the name) to do with Snowmass, and I wanted Village in there. I had two or three, and this won out."
Time and again we hear stories about what locals do to live in the beauty and splendor of Snowmass. Many work multiple jobs, including 18-year Snowmass resident Lynn Olson.
"I have my summer job and my winter job, and I needed something extra, and that's how I came up with the catering business," explained Olson.
In the summer, she works for Jeff Sivess and Snowmass Lawn and Care, making the gardens of Snowmass beautiful.
"Jeff's awesome," said Olson. "I love the job. I love working for him."
In the winter, Lynn is a longtime employee of the Aspen Skiing Co., working in the guest services division to coordinate group events.
With an experienced local history of cooking and catering, Olson launched The Village Tart earlier this summer.
But the start of the business really began when Olson moved to our local mountains. Following a familiar pattern, Olson moved to Aspen/Snowmass 20 years ago after college at the University of Florida as a history major.
She spent her first time west of the Mississippi working a summer at Glacier National Park in Montana. Then, returning home, she arranged for a job in Aspen through the mail, working and living at the Boomerang Lodge for longtime owners Fonda and Charlie Patterson.
"That's kind of how I got into cooking," Olson said. "Working the front desk at night, Fonda had these old 'Gourmet' and 'Bon Appetite' magazines, and I used to look through them and copy down the recipes." Now, Olson rarely needs to measure anything in her cooking.
After a stint at the old Charcuterie in Aspen, Olson began working in the kitchen and cafe at Anderson Ranch, one of the valley's true lunch spot secrets. She cooked at Anderson Ranch for 12 years and was in charge of the kitchen for 10 of those years.
"The Ranch (and the cafe) is a beautiful spot surrounded by interesting people," said Olson. "They give you the freedom to cook different things every day for different people whether they eat meat, or are vegetarians or vegans.
"The idea for the Village Tart had been in my mind for some time," she continued. "I applied to Mountain Fair (in Carbondale) this spring, and I got in. I shared a booth with Back Alley Roasters and did dessert. And I had a booth earlier this summer at Chili Pepper and Brewfest where we did bratwurst and mac and cheese."
At the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, Olson will cook and serve three different varieties of gourmet mac and cheese, a pasta salad and cookies.
"I'm going to keep it simple and do just three types of mac and cheese," she explained. "There's a Cajun Mac with crawfish and andouille sausage, a Mountain Mushroom Mac with leeks and Gruyere cheese and a basic Cheddar Mac that you can add bacon to. And then I'm doing a Caprese-like pasta salad in case it's warm and two cookies, chocolate chunk and oatmeal."
To assist her, Olson has corralled her husband, Picasso, a local food salesman, her brother and sister-in-law and friends. And it's a huge effort. Using a local commercial kitchen, Olson and her team will prepare approximately 1,000 servings of gourmet mac and cheese from 200 pounds of pasta, 200 pounds of cheese (10 different varieties), 10 gallons of creme and assorted other special treats.
A longtime fan of the Labor Day Festival, Olson will struggle to keep one ear tuned into the music, especially when Michael Franti is on stage.
"I think Sunday is going to be a good show," said Olson. "I'm also excited for Mumford and Sons, and I saw Steve Miller the last time he was here, and he was awesome. I love going to the shows, we've been going for years, and the food has always been one of my favorite parts."
So during the festival this weekend in Snowmass Town Park, stop by The Village Tart for an order of their gourmet mac and cheese, a salad or a cookie.
The Village Tart booth, dubbed the Mac Station, will open at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival when the doors open: at 4 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"It's going to be a lot of food and a lot of work, and it's going to be great," said Olson with a smile as her husband and 4-year-old son, Riley, arrived on the scene.
Steve Alldredge is the former assistant editor/writer for the Snowmass Sun. He now runs a local communications company whose clients include Related Colorado. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.