21 Jan 2019

Chefs of the Month: The Two Great Culinarians Behind Aspen Ski Co.

Chef of The Month

Chef Jim Butchart & Chef Matt Zubrod: The Two Great Culinarians Behind Aspen Ski Co.


I’ve always been a food lover. For me, it’s about the experiences that food can help us cultivate, whether it’s a big holiday meal shared with family, a quiet dinner at home or an evening out, sitting solo at the counter chatting with the chef as he or she prepares dishes for hungry restaurant-goers. Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite things about working at Seattle Fish Company involves building relationships and getting to know our talented customers in Colorado, Kansas City and beyond.

I’m humbled and impressed by their passion, creativity and incredible work ethic. Designing a menu, sourcing the best ingredients, training a staff and being a leader in the kitchen is no easy task, and that’s only part of what they do. Seattle Fish Company is lucky enough to get to work closely with these men and women every day, and we want to give you the opportunity to get to know them, too — which is why we’re excited to announce our new Chef of The Month series.

This month, we’d like to introduce you to Chef Jim Butchart and Chef Matt Zubrod of Aspen Skiing Company. Aspen Ski Co. and Seattle Fish Company share many of the same values, including a passion for sustainability, the use of local, high-quality ingredients and preserving our food sources for future generations. Let’s get to it.

Meet Chef Jim Butchart, Culinary Director of Aspen Skiing Company’s Mountain Division.

Jim Butchart, Culinary Director, Mountain Dining

Jim Butchart is the Culinary Director of Aspen Skiing Company’s Mountain Division, where he oversees the ten company-operated eateries on Aspen Snowmass’s four mountains. In that role, he has ushered in a new era of on-mountain dining with an industry-leading focus on local and sustainable meat and produce.

When he began his tenure in 2010, he spearheaded a quest to bring local grassfed beef to all of the local mountain restaurants. This was an extension of a program begun at the restaurants of The Little Nell, an Aspen Skiing Company-owned hotel. “We decided to quickly expand to ten restaurants, and it was a big undertaking,” says Butchart. “We took a big hit to the bottom line to make it happen, but the ownership was convinced that this was important, and they’ve stood behind it.”

Burgers were just the beginning. Now, even the hotdogs are made from grassfed beef, and it hasn’t stopped there. Local organic produce is featured whenever possible (it’s surprisingly possible, even in winter), and salmon, while not local, is source-verified. Beyond the plate, the restaurants have made a commitment to cutting down on single-use items in and out of the kitchen, and making sure disposables are compostable — all while expanding the restaurants’ composting capabilities.

The 2018/19 ski season has expanded the program to include another important menu item: “Every chicken, from the tenders all the way to whole rotisserie birds, will be all-natural,” says Butchart. “Kids don’t notice, but this is about making impactful decisions throughout the whole mountain restaurant system.” Next, he says, he’ll be working to leverage partnerships with soda and coffee vendors, pressuring them to use more environmentally sound practices.

Maine lobster with sunchokes, maitake and Sauce Américaine at element 47 at The Little Nell. Chris Council and Emily Chaplin photo.

Butchart began his career in the French tradition, and developed his signature style through stints at Mark Miller’s Coyote Café in Santa Fe, and four years in Savannah at the Sapphire Grill, The Chatham Club, and The Ford Plantation. In 2003, Butchart was appointed the opening Executive Chef for The Greenbrier Sporting Club in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Soon after, he became the company’s Corporate Chef, overseeing culinary operations in the Turks and Caicos, British West Indies, and Jackson Hole. He was lured to Aspen in 2008 to helm the relaunch of The Little Nell’s Ajax Tavern, and to run The Little Nell’s summer banquet program.

Meet Chef Matt Zubrod, Executive Chef at The Little Nell.

Chef Matt Zubrod, Executive Chef, The Little Nell


Chef Zubrod joined The Little Nell, a luxury five-star hotel  property in Aspen, in April 2015 as Executive Chef, overseeing all culinary operations for the hotel’s restaurants, banquets and in-room dining.

Matt began his career with Ritz-Carlton, initially working in Aspen, Naples and Boston before moving on to the historic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego as Executive Sous-Chef. In 1999, he took over The Vail Cascade Resort as Executive Chef and opened The Ritz-Carlton, Aspen Highlands as Executive Chef in 2001. As a departure from the corporate world, he branched out into the independent restaurant scene to open Dish Aspen as Executive Chef and Managing Partner.


The Little Nell is Aspen’s only Five-Star, Five-Diamond, ski-in/ski-out hotel. Image credit: Shawn O’Connor photo.

He next moved to Hawaii where he opened Monette’s at Mauna Kea Resort, which he ran for several years. A short stopover in California at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa brought Matt, his wife, Denise, and their children, Bode and Finn, back to the mainland. In 2013, they returned to Aspen where he served as Executive Chef at BB’s Kitchen until joining The Little Nell. He also has a daughter, Christine, who resides in Ohio.

Salmon Nicoise with fingerling potatoes, anchovy and tomato confit at Ajax Tavern at The Little Nell. Image credit: Chris Council and Emily Chaplin photo

“Matt’s style of Colorado Contemporary Cuisine encompasses a variety of flavors informed by Alpine and coastal influences from his time working in the Rocky Mountains and by the Pacific Ocean,” said The Little Nell’s Managing Director, Simon Chen. “As Executive Chef at The Nell, he promotes our farm-to-table cuisine, incorporating regional and seasonal products and a commitment to approachable yet memorable dining experiences.”

The hotel’s signature restaurant, element 47, has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, nominated several times for Outstanding Wine Program.

About Aspen Skiing Company

Aspen Skiing Company is located in Aspen, Colorado. We are a values-driven company, owned and operated by people who share a common appreciation and respect for the pristine environment in which we live and fully embrace the Aspen Idea centered around the renewal of Mind, Body, and Spirit.

We respect and nurture the delicate balance between “resort” and “community” that makes us unique. The combination of our values-based company with unparalleled mountain sports, community, history, culture and environment gives us a unique market niche.

Learn more at www.aspensnowmass.com

About The Little Nell
Cosmopolitan yet intimate, contemporary yet timeless, The Little Nell invites guests to experience Aspen’s only Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond, ski-in/ski-out hotel – a Relais & Châteaux resort. For more information and for reservations, please call 888.The.Nell (888.843.6355) or visit www.thelittlenell.com

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