As seen on our menu: Huidekoper Ranch Salad – baby swiss chard, baby beet greens, pomegranate seeds
Q Roadhouse and Brewing Co. just released its winter menu with a focus on lowering the price points on the menu to make it more affordable and reminiscent of a gastropub. That being said, the fare itself didn’t suffer a hit whatsoever in lowering the prices, with local purveyors still the driving force behind Matty Melehes’ eclectic menu.
At first glance, a mixed greens salad, while fresh and delicious, might not look to be the most exciting item on his new menu; however, the story behind the Huidekoper Ranch salad is incredible. Alex “Liability” Feher, a Fine Dining employee at Osteria, began working at the Aspen’s Market years ago and managed the produce department. He decided he wanted to supplement the produce he was ordering with locally grown greens (this in the days before the Vertical Harvest). Liability, Feher’s given metal name for his radio show “Heavy Metal Massacre,” grew greens for a year in a greenhouse behind the Aspen’s Market. His yield was enough to provide greens for the salad bar and more than enough to get him even more excited about farming and what is possible in this high alpine desert climate.
Beyond providing for the salad bar at the market, Liability began growing and harvesting micro greens to sell in the produce department. Already friends with Melehes, he decided to bring some samples over for Chef Roger Freedman (and him) to try at Q Roadhouse. The chefs were blown away at the intensity of flavors these micro greens possessed and immediately bought his supply. The micro greens popped up all over Melehes’ menu, adding a fresh splash of flavor to his creative cooking style.
Liability began selling his micro greens to other restaurants, but the small greenhouse at the Aspen’s Market was barely able to keep up with the high volume of customers these restaurants cooked for in the summer months.
Midway through the summer, Liability went to a rally hosted at the Huidekoper Ranch on Teton Pass (backcountry skiers will know this area as the place where you hitch hike from when you ski out Old Pass Road onto Trail Creek Road). For some reason, the rally was cancelled, but Liability stayed to hang out with Brent Tyc and Nate Fuller, who run the ranch. As the sun set on the field where the guys shared a beer, Liability said to himself, “This is the perfect pasture with a slight gradient.” This is when they began talks over growing produce at the ranch.
Prior to meeting Liability, Huidekoper Ranch only stabled horses, though Tyc had wanted to turn the ranch into an organic farm. Liability and Tyc both recognized the quality of the fertilizer from the presence of horses on the ranch. The guys decided to fix and add onto the already existent greenhouse so they could produce more greens. A wood stove heats the greenhouse all winter long, allowing us to offer local greens on our winter menu. All Huidekoper Ranch greens are hearty down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but they all do much better in the heat from the wood stove. Tyc gets up every few hours to stoke the fire throughout the night, truly epitomizing the labor of love that goes into these greens.
“Our goal isn’t to be doing greens and micro greens: we want to do permaculture work. We want a multi species perennial agricultural system that will last well after we’re gone with as little management as possible, while offering food that doesn’t exist in this valley yet,” says Liability. Melehes plans to stick with Huidekoper Ranch as they grow and help them to achieve their ultimate goal while using their quality produce to elevate his menus.