This weekend, NSCD supporters attending the 44th annual Wells Fargo Ski Cup will once again be treated to a menu crafted by Executive Chef Dace Voit, and Sous Chef Scott Smith, of Wild Horse Catering. Located in Tabernash and Fraser, Wild Horse Catering has been creating the meals served in the Main Tent at the Wells Fargo Ski Cup since 2006.
Owners Chris French and her husband, John Cribari, started Wild Horse Catering shortly after opening their Bed and Breakfast, the Wild Horse Inn, in Tabernash. “We started cooking out of the kitchen at Wild Horse Inn in 2003. John and I did all the cooking, if you can believe it!”, recalls French. “We were ‘trying on’ catering weddings onsite at the Inn and it just kept growing from there. We now employ about 80 people in the summer months and do hundreds of events each year now.”
As for planning a large event like the Wells Fargo Ski Cup, French told me, “we usually connect with NSCD to start planning around November. From there, we work with them to sort out any new ideas, changes in format, evolving equipment needs and resort participation”. The next step is menu creation. “Since we are feeding between 600-900 people per day, we have to create menus that work logistically as well as meet the budget needs for NSCD, since this is, first and foremost, a fundraising event. Our team then works through equipment, staff and logistics needs and puts a tactical plan in place”, said French.
“It used to be that both Chefs were heavily involved in the preparation, but since we’ve opened Solstice Winter Bistro in Fraser, and use the same kitchen for both catering and the restaurant, we’ve divided efforts a bit more”, said French. “Executive Chef Dace Voit will do most of the preparation for Wells Fargo Cup and Sous Chef Scott Smith will continue to have his main focus on Solstice.”
This weekend’s catering schedule includes lunch on Friday, which is new this year and they expect to serve about 100 guests. They’ll serve 300 breakfast burritos to hungry racers and guests Saturday morning, and, Saturday and Sunday lunches will see between 600-800 guests. Wild Horse Catering also donates 50 bagged lunches for volunteers on Saturday and Sunday.
The logistics of setting up for a large event like the Wells Fargo Ski Cup can be complicated. “Over the years, we’ve gotten our best practices down for this event series, so we’re able to be quite efficient. It takes several hours on the first setup day to get everything in place – it takes longer now, since we don’t have much access to a ski area ATV anymore and have to pull and carry everything into the tents”, said French. “We’ll setup for Friday lunch on Thursday, then on Friday, after lunch is done, we’ll expand the setup for Saturday and Sunday events. We have about 7 staff each day onsite. Some of our staff have worked this event every year we’ve done it! I love seeing the camaraderie that has developed between staff, NSCD and their volunteers.”
When I asked Chris why she does it every year, she told me, “We have always tried to find ways to support our community. The Wells Fargo Ski Cup is a really special event and we feel honored to be the caterer of record for this event year after year”.
To learn more about Wild Horse Catering, visit: wildhorsecatering.com.