December 6, 2018

Rocking It In the Kitchen

Chef Matt Zubrod brings passion and flavor to Aspen’s The Little Nell
Carrot steak with cauliflower and braised wagyu

by Hilary Stunda

The Little Nell is Aspen’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond, ski-in/ski-out hotel—a Relais & Châteaux resort. Executive Chef Matt Zubrod presents New American cuisine based on locally sourced ingredients. With a culinary flair informed by his time working in the Rocky Mountains and by the Pacific Ocean, he says, “I am more OCD on flavors and technique with a foundation of cooking classically. I like to introduce the best possible ingredients and techniques to perfect a dish. For example: Sous vide carrots cooked at 185° F for 35 minutes, then quickly charred on bincho-tan [a high-quality Japanese charcoal] produces better flavor than, say, blanching the carrots in stock, then charring. It’s precision cooking.”

What is your philosophy when it comes to the kitchen? Keep it simple; focus on flavor, technique and using the best ingredients possible.

Who is your favorite living chef? Jean-Charles Berruet

Who is your favorite deceased chef? Paul Bocuse

How would you describe the personality of your practice? Rock ’n’ roll

What is your practice’s main weakness? Overindulgence

What is the trait you appreciate most in a culinary masterpiece? Taste

What is the trait you most appreciate in a chef? Passion

What is the trait you most deplore in a chef? Arrogance

What has been your most challenging culinary request? Impressive vegan cuisine

What constitutes culinary joy? Hearing “This is one of the best meals I ever had.”

In whose kitchen would you most like to prepare a meal? Thomas Keller

If you could cook for three people, who would they be? James Hetfield, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan

What is your favorite flavor? Foie fat, star anise, roast chilies—depends on the cuisine

What is the most overrated cooking ingredient? Truffle oil

What is your most recent culinary epiphany? Improving vegetarian cooking; I created a great beet burger with turmeric aioli.

What talent would you most like to have? To play the drums like Metallica’s Lars Ulrich

What culinary tactics do you most overuse? Preaching simplicity and making things complicated

On what occasions do you lie? Sometimes I avoid annoying customers by saying “I’m busy.”

How would you like to die? In my sleep, after a great meal with my family