The Gant ups its culinary offerings
After stepping away from his 18-year position as general manager at Matsuhisa in Aspen, Todd Reese wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue a career in food and beverage.
Then an old friend and colleague, Lou Eppelsheimer, director of sales and marketing at The Gant, reached out and offered him its director of food and beverage role.
“You know, I was taking a much-needed break and trying to figure it out when Lou called,” Reese said. “What can I say? I love a challenge, and the idea of building something was appealing to me.”
He’s worked for 28 years in many of Aspen’s top restaurants. Before Matsuhisa, he was the food and beverage director at Maroon Creek Club, opening Todd English’s, then Olives at The St. Regis, and was acting restaurant manager at The Little Nell. A New Mexico native, Reese grew up in Dallas and studied hotel and restaurant management at Texas Tech University before moving to Aspen in 1994.
When he accepted Eppelsheimer’s offer, he was given the green light to bring in Kristen Babich as events director.
Aspen Skiing Co. recruited her from Nantucket in 2015, and she worked at several restaurants, including Ajax Tavern, Limelight Aspen, Limelight Snowmass, and Sam’s. She also has served at Kenichi, Matsuhisa Aspen, Hotel Jerome, and W Hotel Aspen, and gained sous-chef and event-planning experience with an array of private chefs in he area.
In celebration of The Gant’s 50th year, they are making incremental changes and elevating what the venue has to offer in terms of food, beverage, and event experiences on-site.
Reese and Babich, affectionately known as “the dynamic duo,” alongside Chef Chon Bogarin unveiled new culinary offerings for the winter season in the Gant’s eatery, Pepperjacks, rolled out a daily après menu, and are offering a private food and drink experience in their roof-top igloo.
Some of the highlights of the new Pepperjacks menu are the new flatbread pizzas; the spicy fried-chicken sandwich, which is hand-cut in house, marinated for two days in a house-made blend and then hand-breaded; and the kale salad with quinoa and a zesty honey-lemon dressing for a healthy yet hearty option.
Daily après is from 3-6:30 p.m. at the bar at Pepperjack’s and pool- or hot tub-side. Patrons can sip on seasonal local and regional craft brews, an array of wines, and spirited libations. Reese recommended the Colorado Mudslide, their take on the French 75 with the Gant ’73, paying homage to the year of the resort’s founding, for bubbles with a twist, and the Rocky Mountain Bloody Mary. Après bites include breaded fried pickles, charcuterie, beef sliders, pretzel bites, and more.
But perhaps the coolest addition to the resort is the charming, heated rooftop igloo with fabulous views of Aspen’s Silver Queen Gondola. This is a great place to unwind after a long day of skiing, while being surrounded by nature with a few friends, a bottle of bubbles, and some elevated snacks.
Menu standouts include coconut-fried shrimp, salmon tartare, Kobe beef sliders, and an Italian charcuterie board. On the lighter side, patrons can choose a grilled Caesar or kale and quinoa salad. Mains feature a half pound lobster pasta, house-made ravioli, a 12-ounce ribeye steak, lamb lollipops, and chicken piccata with desserts showcasing a mixed berry cobbler, banana crème brulee, tiramisu, and Colorado’s Bonfire Coffee. Libations include the Gant ‘73, Espresso Martini, and Ajax Spicy Mule.
Reese acknowledged that he and the team are just getting started and has lots of ideas on fun ways to enhance guests’ experience at The Gant, but, for now, he’s enjoying the ride and basking in the fact that they already won first prize in this year’s Soupsköl competition with Chef Bogarin’s Pepperjack Cafe Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese.
“That was just awesome and just the beginning; there’s more to come.” said Reese.