ple would travel to just for the food. Two years later, Eamonn became the final piece needed to complete that vision. Kinnick, who lives out of state but still owns the inn, happily affords his star chef complete autonomy. O’Hara, along with his wife of 23 years, Lynda Hackleton, arrived in Rico following two years of kitchen duties in the überrural town of Dunton, CO. Prior to that it was four years as a chef at The Peaks in Telluride. Before that, it was LA, where, in 1981, what was supposed to be a vacation to the West Coast turned into something fateful after Eamonn landed a position at the prestigious Hotel Bel Air in Beverly Hills. “It has been one hell of a vacation,” he said, adding that while he loves the small-town lifestyle of Rico and has no plans to leave, he still has a fondness for Southern California. “I showed up in Telluride for my interview and people were thinking, ‘Who is this guy in this three-piece suit? He must be from the IRS.’” But that is what people did in those days; they dressed up, at least in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, it was in kitchens in Liverpool (not exactly a culinary destination) where as a young child Eamonn moved with his parents from the west coast of Ireland and began his career. But sourcing his career choice to an exact point and time is not that easy. Back in the day, Eamonn likes to remind you, cooks either came from the military or were just blokes trying to stay out of jail. (And which one is he? Well, he didn’t serve in the military.) “And it wasn’t my mother who influenced me. She was an awful cook. Except for her soda bread,” he said, his eyes softening, returning to that kitchen table in Liverpool. I can see it, at that moment; he can taste that soda bread. I am convinced that it is good. I want to try it. But it wasn’t until the Hotel Bel Air that his real culinary education took root. Fast forward to Rico: Eamonn in front of the stove at the Argentine Grille, seasoning mashed potatoes and whipping up a chimichurri sauce for fall-off-the-bone James Ranch short ribs. He is not sure how many guests to expect tonight: Two? Ten? It is the dead time of year. “What more can I want?” Eamonn says. “I have a roof over my head, a warm place to work, and food.” Unbelievable food. Start your car. At 6:00, two regulars show up. They drove over from Dolores, not a short haul. Nothing is close to Rico. But then, nothing is really too far.
Beet and Carrot Strudel Ingredients 8 baby carrots, cut in half lengthwise 8 baby beets, tops removed 2 teaspoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper ½ cup goat cheese 4 sheets phyllo dough 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted Pumpkin seeds, toasted Method Preheat oven to 400°. Drizzle beets with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with olive oil until each piece is coated, then sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer carrots and beets to a baking sheet and roast until tender. Allow vegetables to cool, then peel and finely chop the beets. Mix with the carrots and goat cheese. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside. Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet and brush it with melted butter until 4 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch-wide row of the vegetable mixture along one edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up and tuck in the sides to make a strudel. Brush the top with butter and place the strudel on a sheet pan. Cover with parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Slice and serve.
Telling the story of local food throughout Southwest Colorado and The Four Corners.