Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is showcasing area chefs in a new series called “Meet Your Chef” so you can learn a bit more about those creating art in the kitchen. If you’re a local chef and would like to be a part of this series, please email Tricia Swenson (email@example.com) and Sean Naylor (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q: What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?
A: I’m Shelby Lewis, owner and personal chef of Eat Dank Food. I work in Vail, Aspen and throughout the Colorado Rockies.
Q: How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?
A: I’ve lived here for 11 years and came for a chef’s apprenticeship helping to open The 10th in Vail at the age of 19.
Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
A: I was apprenticing at an organic vineyard and winery at the age of 19. When more apprentices came, someone needed to do the cooking. I started growing all of our produce and served three meals a day to a group of hungry workers. It was so fulfilling, and I got hooked.
Q: Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
A: A lot of line cooks that I’ve encountered throughout the years with their quirky tricks and obsessive nature have been an inspiration. That energy is infectious. I also apprenticed under chef Paul Wade and he taught me that I didn’t need a culinary degree and he also taught me the importance of integrity in my food.
Q: What’s your favorite spice?
A: Pepper. Black pepper, white pepper, pink pepper. It sounds simple because it is. They’re all so different and can really change a dish for the better.
Q: Favorite protein?
A: I love anything that falls into the ‘gamey’ category. Grass fed beef, lamb, pheasant, rabbit. I like the less mainstream cuts and really encourage my clients to try something they may not have had before. When they end up loving it, that’s the best.
Q: Favorite fruits and veggies?
A: I love beets. I like to smoke and pickle them. It’s an umami bomb. My favorite fruit would have to be blackberries or raspberries; mostly because they pair nicely with my cheese plates!
Q: Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.?
A: Nothing is more satisfying than a bowl of cheesy grits.
Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: I crave Congee way too often, a Japanese rice porridge. With some mushrooms, a runny egg, and plenty of fish sauce; don’t knock it till you try it.
Q: Is there anything else about you we should share?
A: I create each menu custom and put a great deal of effort into creating a unique experience tailored to what my clients are envisioning. I also love the opportunity to help others Eat Dank Food even if they have limitations in their diet!