Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Buffalo Horn Ranch - I

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries:
A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

Hey y'all! Greetings from Buffalo Horn Ranch in Meeker, Colorado. I'm sorry I have to respond to you all at once, but it would just be the same letter over and over. I've seen and learned many subtle things just in the few days I've been here (i.e. when driving in the middle of nowhere at night, drive down the middle of the road over the yellow lines--that way if a deer jumps out, you have more room to swerve to either side!) I've also learned to appreciate shit beer. At the bar we have Coors, Coors light, Michelob, Michelob light, Bud, Bud light, Amstel, Amstel light...mmmmm. Somehow, I'd never drink this stuff in NY, but out West it's OK.

So on Saturday, I got on a 6:25 am flight, arrived in Denver at 10:00 am mountain time, drove 5 hours to the ranch, had ten minutes to put my stuff down before I had to prepare dinner for 20 people!! Luckily it was successful...and everything since has been too. I've gotten lots of compliments. Even the wild game turned out marvelously. For never making venison before, I have to pat myself on the back for that one. It was tender and delicious!

I've been working long hours...9am-10pm...but it's fun so far, and I'm learning a lot...and fast--often having to make stuff on a moment's notice that I've never made before. But so far there've been no disasters!

It's so quiet here. I don't know if I've ever experienced such silence. The stars are bright, the coyotes howl at night, and at every chance I have to step outside for a few minutes, I spot a deer or elk just grazing off on the hillside behind the lodge. The mountains here are gorgeous--but not as tall or dramatic as some I've seen. What's beautiful here is that the hills are covered with scrub oak, a shrub that turns bright shades of red, orange and yellow this time of year. So far I haven't had much time to myself to go exploring, but I can't wait to get out into this beautiful countryside.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the cowboys! Yes, real ones. With big rodeo belt buckles that do rope tricks and wear old weathered hats. Not old haggard ones, neither. Young, cute ones who talk with drawls and all have perfect teeth and manners. But it's funny how cultural differences can separate people. It can be hard to communicate with people who have a different vocabulary for everything (cowboys do) and I find myself occasionally feeling like Frazier or Niles (note to mom--these are stuffy intellectual TV characters) among these folks. They ask me lots of questions about the big city and seem puzzled by some of my clothing...

Everyone's very nice, but like anywhere there's a fair share of "office politics". I guess when you get 25 people out in the middle of nowhere, personalities can flare sometimes. I think I might even have an enemy! The bartender is quite rude, and I told him so!! But he's rude to everyone, not just me....gee, don't he know where his food's coming from? Don't piss off the chef, pardner!

Well friends, it's time to go start lunch. I'll send more news later... hope you're well!! I'm having a great time!



1 comment: said...

Sara, I am a former employee of the BHR. I am 48 and live in Louisville Ky. I would love to trade Jim -Gayle - Marty -Whit -Lyle stories with you. I remember them talking about the Chef that ran Marty off the road. I worked there from 7-04 thru 12-04. I was there when Whitt sold the place at auction. The guy that submitted the highest bid couldn't come up with the money within 60 days and Whitt kept his good faith money. He was a local guy and I swear he was drunk when he bought the place. I felt sorry for him. I went to Rifle,Craig and Glenwood Springs on the weekends also.