In a new feature to the site, we’ll be talking with chefs from across the state, to find out a little bit more about their restaurants and themselves. With Deer Valley’s Goldener Hirsch Inn now back open for the Summer season, we thought it was a perfect time to sit down with chef Ryan Burnham; bonus points, the restaurant recently also won the 2016 Best Of State award for European cuisine too.
If you haven’t been before, this boutique hotel/restaurant is one of Utah’s most unique dining destinations; modeled on it’s centuries old namesake in Austria, the cuisine is a mix of robust alpine food with a dollop of New American sensibilities.
The restaurant is open 5.30 p.m. – 9 p.m. through till October 1st and right now is the perfect excuse to beat the summer heat down in the valley.
Q: What attracted you to a career as a chef, what brought you into the kitchen?
I started washing dishes at a bagel shop when I was 15. I always had restaurant jobs, I loved the camaraderie of the restaurant people, that became especially true once I got serious about cooking. It’s very much like the team sports I grew up playing that were such a part of my life. The fast pace of the kitchen, the intensity of a busy service, the challenge day in and day out to be your best. All of these things combined with a love for food, I was hooked!
Q: Tell me about your career, how you reached the Goldener Hirsch
I have been very fortunate, I have had the privilege of working for some amazing chefs and restauranteurs, in some of the most amazing properties in the country. From the Clift Hotel in San Francisco, to the Fountainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, to Stein Eriksen Lodge and Bill White Restaurant Group here in Utah. I was able to train under some of the best chefs as well like Alfred Portale (Michelin Star) at Gotham Bar and Grill in NY, Eric Hall and Dru Scheidell in Philadelphia, and Zane Holmquist and Bill White here in Utah.
Q: Tell us about the menu at the Hirsch, the Austrian original/inspiration etc?
Well, the menu has a few dishes that you will always see. The Cheese Fondue, Wiener Schnitzel and the Apple Strudel to name a few. We play around with seasonal variations on these dishes, but the core of these dishes don’t change much. What I would say about the food in general here is, we get the best available ingredients, and let them shine through solid technique and consistent execution. There is naturally a European vein, because that is the most prevalent part of my training, but I draw inspiration from reading and especially from cooking with my team and at home.
Q: What about your own approach to the menu, anything you feel strongly about?
I think the most important thing for a chef, is to understand your clientele. As chefs, we sometimes get too caught up in trends or trying to do something just for the sake of proving you can. It’s an ego thing, that doesn’t work. Of course we need to challenge ourselves, but we need to remember the big picture of who we are cooking for and why we got into this in the first place.
Q: For newcomers to the Hirsch, recommend the perfect first meal
I always tell people to get the fondue. It’s very good and a great dish to share. Then I would go to a salad. We almost always have some form of a warm mushroom salad, that features wild mushrooms that are in season at the time (right now morels for example) or we also have a market salad that features a combination of vegetables and preparations that we come up with daily based on whats available and what sounds good to us that day. Then I would split a fish entrée and a meat entrée. We get the most beautiful seafood from all over the world, from Arctic char to Mediterranean bass to scallops from Maine. Also the lamb and duck we get is some of the best available. Again the preparations change often so as to keep us excited about what we are cooking and keep our in house guests wanting to come back every night they are staying with us.
Q: Where might we find you eating?
I love all kinds of food. Right now, my wife and I have been on a Korean barbeque kick. Once we find a new place we like we tend to obsess a little. I also love sushi and Mexican food. A few of the places we love are Shoyu (Park City), El Sombrero (Kamas), Sam Hawk (Korean BBQ, Provo). The Utah dining seen just seems to keep getting better. What I love are all of the smaller “Mom and Pop” places that are making food from a specific region of the world.
7570 Royal St, Park City, UT 84060
Founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review. Former restaurant critic at the Salt Lake Tribune. Stuart is largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words he doesn’t understand. Ate all the pies.