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Mountain Lodge Telluride, Executive Chef Tom “Tommy” Tompkins

The View Restaurant & Bar, Mountain Lodge Telluride
 Executive Chef ProfileTom “Tommy” Tompkins

Name:  Tom “Tommy” Tompkins
Date of Birth:   June 26, 1968
How long have you been in Telluride?  I came to Telluride 25 years ago from West Chester, New York.
How long have you been in Food & Beverage? 25 years!  I moved to Telluride in order to ski.  And to support my skiing habit, I initially took a job as a dishwasher!  That started my career in Food & Beverage.
What kind of education do you have?  A highschool degree, plus a Culinary degree.
Which Culinary School & where?  The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hydepark, New York.
Current Restaurant: The View Restaurant & Bar at Mountain Lodge Telluride.
Title: Executive Chef & Beverage Director.

Q:  How long have you been with The View Restaurant & Bar
A:  I’ve been with The View Restaurant & Bar at Mountain Lodge Telluride 1+year now.  Prior to that I worked at the Telluride Conference Center as Executive Chef for the past 6-7 years.  The View is my first step into the Food & Beverage world of running a restaurant, as I was strictly an Executive Chef previously.

Q:  What was your “ah-ha” moment or experience that made you realize that you could make F&B your profession?  
A:  I started working in restaurants in order to afford skiing when I first moved to Telluride 25-years ago.  In the course of my career, one of the Chefs I worked with was a Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate. He explained that the CIA is considered the world’s premier culinary college and recommended that I consider attending to become a Master Chef.   Eventually I applied and studied two years in Hyde Park, New York.

Q:  How would you describe your menu? (Home cooking, Insanity, Pure Bliss, Total Confusion, etc.?)
A:  I like to consider the menu I’ve created for The View Restaurant & Bar as ‘Tavern Fair with a High-End Flaire’.

Q:  Going back to the beginning of your culinary career, do you remember the first meal that you made of your own creation? 
A:  Let me get back to you on that... 

Q:  Tell me about your restaurant.  How did you decide on the menu & beverages you serve?
A:  The View Restaurant & Bar offers a relaxed ambiance, featuring a vaulted 50-foot high timbered ceiling and massive stone fireplace with the charm of a luxurious, western log cabin home. Its cozy atmosphere is perfect for high-end comfort food with incredible views of the San Sophia Range of the San Juan Mountains, as well as casual relaxed faire for poolside dining.  It’s perfect to relax with a great burger and an ice-cold beer after a day outdoors enjoying all that Telluride has to offer.  I’m not trying to specifically compete with other restaurants, so I decided to base the menu around providing good, reasonably priced menu items.

Q:  What specialties do you feature at The View Restaurant & Bar? 
A:  Our most popular menu item is our burgers, which have great toppings.  The menu at The View Restaurant & Bar is more simple in summertime to accompany the casualness of the season.  In winter the menu is more entrée style.  We have a full bar, including wine, beer, and spirits.  Our margaritas are perfect poolside!

Q:  I’ve heard a lot about Colorado’s west slope ‘Palisades peaches’ and ‘Olathe Sweet sweetcorn’…
A:  Western Colorado, where Telluride is located, boasts some really rich growing regions.  In particular Palisade (or the ‘Banana Belt’) is especially good for peaches, grapes, and corn.  Palisade’s climate is mild (78% of days are sunny), and the region’s night winds reduce chances of spring frosts, making stone fruits particularly sweet and juicy.  The temperature differentials between night and day further accentuate the growing cycle.  The western slope features hot days (in the 90’s) combined with cooler nights (a drop of about 25 degrees) which makes Olathe Sweet corn particularly sweet and tender. 

At The View Restaurant & Bar I’ve created a great corn chowder to showcase the Olathe Sweet sweet corn.  While the Olathe Sweet season is short, it’s worth a trip-in to try the chowder.  While we feature the corn chowder year-round, it’s particularly amazing during the Olathe Sweet season; the Olathe Sweet is that good!

Q:  Do you have any new projects in the pipeline that you would like to share with the readers?
A:  In time I want to evolve into a greater dinner menu that compliments the atmosphere as well as the seasons.  Currently we don’t feature any Colorado wineries, and I’m looking into perhaps showcasing some since our growing region is becoming so well established.  For example, the most popular Colorado winery is Sutcliffe Cortez, which has a very good chardonnay, and comes recommended by vintner Stephen Kolpan. 

Q:  Tell me more about your half-yards of beer.  When did you get them?
A:  The View Restaurant & Bar features half-yards (12 of them!) which we debuted in Winter 2010.  Our half-yards are very cool and have wooden stands for good measure.  They definitely are for the serious/stylish beer lover.

Q:  Is there a special process to pour the ½-yards?
A:  Bartenders all have their own tricks to pouring.  I can't reveal my 'secret-sauce' recipe!

Q:  What beers do you serve?  Do you feature any local Telluride brewers?
A:  We have a large selection!  ON TAP: Colorado Native (Golden, CO), Smugglers IPA, Smuggler’s Oatmeal Stout, Smuggler’s Rye (award winning beer), Blue Moon, Stella Artois. BOTTLES: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, Michelob Ultra, Corona, Heinekin, Red Tail, Bass, New Belgium Blue Paddle, Red Hook, and Red Tail.  But don’t forget that we have a full bar, including wine, and spirits, too.

Q:  What menu items do you recommend to go with the beers you offer for anyone wanting to try your half-yards?
A:  Try our Fish & Chips with Smuggler’s Oatmeal Stout, or a Burger and Chicken Wings with Smuggler’s IPA or Smuggler’s RYE.

Q:  What one thing stands out (besides the views!) for a first-time visitor to at The View Restaurant & Bar?  
A:  Some people are initially surprised by the close proximity of the restaurant to the front desk.  Once they realize how our property is laid out, they soon get the beauty of it.  We have two large wide-screen TV's at the bar, plenty of comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, all with amazing views.  Our pool and sauna are heated, and we have outdoor firepits at night.  Plus we have hammocks out on the knoll that can be seen from the gondola. Having a casual menu fits all of our guests’ needs, both those staying here and those venturing out just for a bite.

We also host private parties, including weddings.  Poolside we can accommodate a BBQ for 125 people, or if you desire something butler passed, we can accommodate approximately 75 people.  Contact Heather Nelson of the Mountain Lodge Telluride for more info on a private party.  It might be a good idea for locals to call ahead and make sure we’re not hosting a private party before taking the gondola up to visit us for lunch or dinner.


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