Imagine feeding thousands of skiers at a dozen locations across five mountains every day? That's the life of Jodie Rogers. An Australian skier who found Utah over 20 years ago, Rogers brings a jovial spirit to her role as director of food and beverage for Deer Valley Resort - staying on top of food trends, and making sure there's enough turkey chili at every lodge.
As skiers, it's easy to take lunch for granted. But at a resort that has historically been acclaimed as a leader in food and hospitality, Rogers leads a team that innovates how to bring culinary art to the slopes every day - breakfast, lunch and dinner.
From morning oatmeal and coffee at the Deer Valley Grocery ~ Café to the taco station at Silver Lake Lodge, gooey chocolate chip cookies, and melting Swiss raclette cheese in a stone fireplace at Fireside Dining, Rogers is at the epicenter of on-mountain cuisine.
How did she get from Australia to Deer Valley? What does it take to transform snow-covered, on-mountain lodges two or three times a day? Listen to Jodie Rogers as she takes you inside food and beverage on the mountain at Deer Valley Resort.
Childhood memory of skiing?
We drove six hours to the ski resort. I think I was seven years old at the time. We got in the back of this truck. So two families, about ten people. We put all the mattresses in the back with all the ski gear, everything we possibly could. Pillows, blankets, heaters, dogs, I think we had in there as well. And we drove the six hours to Perrisher in New South Wales. And that was my first experience of skiing in Australia.
None of us have lived this, so it's still so real to me. Everything about this is surreal, but it is also exciting. This team here has done the safest thing in educating themselves and setting up the protocols. The ultimate goal is to get everyone back in the healthy, fresh, crisp air that we have. We have been creative and we've had to really change everything in food and beverage.
What made the difference for you coming to Deer Valley?
My love of culinary and teaching, is what it came to when I walked into the kitchen here. I felt very much at home here. Deer Valley employees that have been here a long time - it's home, it's their family. That just always resonated with me. I loved to cook. I love to teach cooking. There were plenty of people here that wanted to learn and I felt respected and loved.
What inspires you about hospitality?
Food just tells a story. You can get so creative with it. It just excites me in a way that I can look and feel what that particular product wants to be. And then I can also take what I learned from the people around me.
Listen in to Ski Utah's Last Chair episode with Jodie Rogers to learn more:
Tune in to Last Chair: The Ski Utah Podcast presented by High West Distillery on your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to get first access to every episode.
Tom Kelly: |00:00:08| Welcome back, Utah skiers and riders, and thank you for joining us on Last Share, the Ski Utah podcast presented by High West Distillery. It's holiday time in Utah with some nice powder falling as we head into Christmas. As always, thanks to Utah's own Pixie and the Partygrass boys for kicking it off today. Ski Utah's Last Chair podcast is brought to you by High West Distillery, Utah's first legal distillery since 1870. High West's passion is crafting delicious and distinctive whiskeys and helping people appreciate whiskey, all in context of our home here in the American West. I'm hoping Santa is actually bringing me a bottle of Campfire for Christmas or if, I've been especially good, maybe one of those hard to find bottles of Midwinter Nights Dram. If you're visiting this winter, join me at one of High West's three must visit locations in Park City and Wanship just a short distance out of town. This episode of Last Chair is also brought to you by Stein Eriksen Lodge and Deer Valley Resort. I was just out on the hill at Deer Valley yesterday. Wonderful day with amazing early season skiing, actually, and nice blanket of fresh snow falling as I left that afternoon. Deer Valley is well known for its hospitality and dining, and I just love the diversity of offerings. From the Grocery Cafe on your way to the hill, the turkey chili at Silver Lake Lodge and Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge in the evening. Today, we'll meet the smiling chef who is responsible for managing one of the most diverse food and beverage operations you can imagine. Jodie Rogers grew up passionate about skiing and learned to cook at an early age, from Australia to Utah with a stop on the way in London. She landed to Deer Valley in 1997 and quickly rose up through the ranks, being named food and beverage director five years ago, an award winning chef and hospitality manager. She's a popular leader for her team and I honestly don't know how she juggles at all. Ever wonder how many gallons of turkey chili Deer Valley serves in a day? Well, we'll see if Jodie can tell us today. Let's head to Snow Park Lodge at Deer Valley to meet Jodie Rogers.
Tom Kelly: |00:02:22| And I am here this afternoon at Deer Valley with Jodie Rogers and Jodie, thank you so much for joining us here at Deer Valley at a wonderful ski day. A lot of terrain open. I hope you've had a chance to get out there.
Jodie Rogers: |00:02:34| You know, on my plan, I said, you know, I'm going to go out today and then it didn't happen. Tomorrow, is it? Tomorrow is the day. However, I did walk from the snow with my three year old. So I think that counts, right?
Tom Kelly: |00:02:46| Well, that totally counts. She was on skis, so I was just pulling on.
Tom Kelly: |00:02:50| So are we dragging you out of the kitchen this afternoon?
Jodie Rogers: |00:02:54| Actually, I'm going there tonight. That would be my position tonight is to go and help the kitchen or the furniture. Whoever needs me, whoever wants me, you drag me out of my office, which is even better.
Tom Kelly: |00:03:06| Are you actually spending a lot of time on the line or are you more in a managerial role?
Jodie Rogers: |00:03:11| I think more managerial now. I so miss the kitchen. The last few weeks with all the opening, it's been exciting for me because I can get to go see everyone and play a little bit and be be my kitchen person again. But I'm going to tell you, my family is very appreciative that I'm not cooking anymore because when I get home, I do cook. So they get to eat well. Now, before they didn't eat very well at all.
Tom Kelly: |00:03:36| Have you taught the kids to cook?
Jodie Rogers: |00:03:37| Absolutely. Yes. Yes, we have. I have Graham, who is 16. He makes the best tacos on Tuesdays and eggs for breakfast. Remi likes to do the pasta. She's my 14 year old and then my three year old. We're actually teaching her those little knife skills right now. So at the age of two, all my kids got a little knife and that was how they contributed just by chopping bits and pieces.
Tom Kelly: |00:04:00| So you gave the two year old a knife?
Jodie Rogers: |00:04:04| So I know you're looking at me a little weird and I'm feeling a bit I don't know, maybe I'm not very good mother right now, but they're good. They're very safe. And I'm thankful that I haven't had to go to the hospital for any stitches or lost fingertips.
Tom Kelly: |00:04:20| I am holding up my left thumb. About a year ago, I finally broke down and I got some really nice, nice chef's knives. And one night I was low light, hadn't bothered to turn the light on. And I'm chopping shallots and all of a sudden - chunk there went the thumb.
Jodie Rogers: |00:04:38| So yeah. Yeah. Were they able to stitch that back?
Tom Kelly: |00:04:42| Oh yes. It's just it, it's still I don't have the right sensitivity to it and that'll, that'll be.
Jodie Rogers: |00:04:48| But you know what, if you had dull knives, it would have been way worse.
Tom Kelly: |00:04:52| Yeah. And you know, the problem is, now it is a dull knife. I need to get it sharpened.
Jodie Rogers: |00:04:58| I know someone who knows someone who can sharpen knives.
Tom Kelly: |00:05:01| Yes. I may be talking to you about that. So, you know, one of the things that has been wonderful for me and I know a lot of others is we are back skiing. And I remember March 14th, Saturday, I was here at Deer Valley. I remember having my beer and blueberry pie and my ski day down in Snow Park Lodge. And that was it.
Jodie Rogers: |00:05:22| It was that was like, you know, none of us have lived this, obviously. And so it's still so real to me, even though we're, what, nine months after or so. And God, it was just surreal. Everything about this is surreal, but it is exciting. We planned from that day forth, we have met as a team here and we've done nothing but plan. And we never really thought there wouldn't be a twenty, twenty one season. We anticipated we were going to go for it no matter what. You know, there's lots of rumors out there, but I feel like this team here has done the safest thing in educating themselves and setting up the protocols. And it's unbelievable what is happening out there.
Tom Kelly: |00:06:09| My own personal experience just going to Deer Valley and other resorts in Utah is there's been a lot of innovation. We'll talk about that a little bit more with you. But innovation and dedication to make everyone feel comfortable. And at least so far, I've seen the skiers really responding to that and responding in kind people could be. Yes, could be difficult during this time. But everybody seems to be working together. I know you've had a lot of innovations here. We've talked on the podcast about what some other resorts have done, and I just feel good to be out there skiing.
Jodie Rogers: |00:06:44| Yeah. You know, I think that's the ultimate goal is to get everyone back in the healthy, fresh, crisp air that we have so that, you know, maybe that's a way to fight this pandemic. But we have been creative and we've had to really change everything in food and beverage. I mean, I'm not sure we haven't changed something somewhere to make it a better experience, give it a guest experience that I guests. No, we didn't want to falter on that. We didn't want to keep taking. We wanted to keep giving. And I feel like we've succeeded pretty well so far.
Tom Kelly: |00:07:16| Did they teach you anything about this at culinary school?
Jodie Rogers: |00:07:21|Oh, my God. The. That's when I cut my first
finger. Yeah, you know, I wish they had.
Jodie Rogers: |00:07:26| I do what I am thankful for is having the smarts about us in culinary school to give us the education on. You know, we're an industry that has people's lives in our hands daily. And I know that sounds very harsh in the way you say. It's not like a ski patrol. Obviously, that's a real life. But with so many allergies out there and so many health concerns and, you know, the salmonella, the listeria, everything, we are educated. We're a team that really has to have that on the forefront of their mind all the time.
Jodie Rogers: |00:07:56| So I think I'm going to answer with a yeah, they kind of did teach me in culinary school, look how I just got to that in some indirect way.
Tom Kelly: |00:08:05| They did prepare you for this moment. I should thank them.
Tom Kelly: |00:08:09| So, Jodie, let's go into your background. And I know from your accent that you didn't grow up in Utah. Give us a little bit of an idea on how you got into skiing, first of all, and how you got into culinary arts and hospitality.
Jodie Rogers: |00:08:22| This couldn't come at a better time, this question. Lately, we've been doing some, you know, pondering of our past and our childhood in my family because the dear friends that we grew up with are becoming older in their lives. And, you know, we're all just kind of growing up and reminiscing anyway. The first couple that took us and my dad and my family away, arrived at our house at oh, it was probably midnight on a Friday night. And we drove six hours to the ski resort. I think I was seven years old at the time. Maybe I was nine. I'll go with seven. I feel like a skied longer than that. And then we got in the back of this truck and the truck had on the side, Gosford Shoplifters. I grew up in Gosford. The company was a cabinetry company, so he had named it Gosford Shoplifters. So two families, about ten people put all the mattresses in the back with all the ski gear, everything we possibly could. Pillows, blankets, heaters, dogs, I think we had in there as well. And we drove the six hours to Perrisher in New South Wales. And that was my first experience of skiing in Australia.
Tom Kelly: |00:09:29| In Australia.
Jodie Rogers: |00:09:30| So, you know, you've been there. I know you have. And we don't have mountains. We have hills. But that was hard at that age.
Tom Kelly: |00:09:37| Well, yes. And I grew up in the Midwest where we have even smaller hills. So there you go. Yeah, 300 feet was actually pretty good back there. So this is really quite a difference. How about on the hospitality and the culinary side? Was there a point as a young girl that you kind of fell in love with that?
Jodie Rogers: |00:09:56| I think I always had that love for it. Both my grandparents were great cooks. My dad's mom was a phenomenal baker and did wedding cakes. So I want to say that my first experience with culinary cooking is admiring her fancy work in the fondant. I got up on a chair and stuck my thumb in it and never regretted anything more in my life. However, I've been cooking ever since, so kind of funny how that ties through now.
Tom Kelly: |00:10:27| It really is. I think back often as to where I got the interest myself and I really can't pinpoint it. I do remember that someone sent me a cookbook when I first moved away from friends and went to a new city where I was really on my own. Somebody sent me a cookbook and then I started getting bills for the cookbook and I didn't really know what to do. But I said, you know, I like this cookbook.
Jodie Rogers: |00:10:52| Let's say you keep saying I love it.
Tom Kelly: |00:10:55| Yeah. So I figured, well, it was worthwhile. And it actually I think was really a good investment. So you're a long ways from it in Australia. So how did you eventually make your way here to Utah.
Jodie Rogers: |00:11:10| So I'm going to go back just a little bit to set the tone. I was 16 years old and young, silly and in an assembly at school where this company called AFS and that stands for American Field Service. And they came and gave us this great spiel on being an exchange student. And I just stood there and said, well, I'm going to do that. And next year, a year later, after the whole selection process here, I found myself in Argentina. So I didn't know any Spanish. I didn't know anything. It was kind of daunting, actually. So I spent the year there. I went to school, came back. The condition of going there was coming back and finish high school. So once high school hit, I had to make a decision. Wow, what am I going to do next? You know, I had the travel bug and I'm thinking, oh, I had two options that I could figure at that point. One was to apply for an apprenticeship with a hotel in Sydney, the Sydney Boulevard Hotel, and the other was to join the police force. And I would say I'm rather thankful that the apprenticeship came up first. And I succeeded in that because I've traveled the world.
Tom Kelly: |00:12:16| How did the police force come on?
Jodie Rogers: |00:12:18| I have no idea. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Where I was born in Gosburn is where our police academy is, and so we would travel back in their fourth and then my cousins and my uncle. So I have family members that are in there. My cousin still does the mounted police. So I think it was just that fascination. And I would have been OK. I was doing karate at the time. I thought I was pretty tough.
Tom Kelly: |00:12:42| Do you still know karate?
Jodie Rogers: |00:12:43| I still know it.
Tom Kelly: |00:12:44| OK, look out, folks. It doesn't serve me so well. Well, I was going to ask if you use it in the kitchen.
Jodie Rogers: |00:12:51| No, I have a knife.
Tom Kelly: |00:12:54| That's even better. Now, you did a stop in London as well, didn't you?
Jodie Rogers: |00:12:57| I did. So after my apprenticeship, I did all of that - went to Charlottes Pass, which is in New South Wales. Worked there a few years on and off. And Michael Witnall, who's still a ski instructor here, was recruiting. So I found myself, in the matter of a year or two, with a round the world ticket, first stop Deer Valley - first visa people that ever came here. That was myself and to others at the time, Michael, and then my friend Donna, we were the only visa people here for H-2B. We worked the season and then I kept traveling one way round the world. I ended up in London. When you're part of the Commonwealth, you get visas to work anywhere. So we're pretty darn lucky. So I opened up a little restaurant there called TOAST in Hampstead Heath and did that for a while. And then I just used that as my little area to travel around the world. It was super awesome.
Tom Kelly: |00:13:47| So when you eventually landed in Utah, what was it that made you say to yourself, this is where I want to stay?
Jodie Rogers: |00:13:55| You know, I'm still not sure I ever said that. You're still here. I'm still here. So deep down, I knew it. You know, I think my love of culinary and teaching, I think is what it came into when I walked into the kitchen here, it was a small crew and they did a phenomenal job. And they still do, obviously. But I was able to bring in new types of cooking and new types of cuisines because I had done a lot of traveling and I felt very at home here. I think that's really what it was. Deer Valley employees that have been here a long time and a short term, they they just it's home. It's their family. And I think that that just always resonated with me. I loved to cook. I love to teach cooking, though. Plenty of people here that wanted to learn and I felt respected and loved.
Tom Kelly: |00:14:54| So you've held many different roles in your tenure here, and you've been here, I think, since around 1997, right?
Jodie Rogers: |00:15:00| Yes this is actually my 25th year. In 96, 97 season.
Tom Kelly: |00:15:07| And you know what's interesting about Deer Valley and I don't know if this is very common, but the longevity of employees here is really amazing.
Jodie Rogers: |00:15:15| It is. I have employees that have been here since inception, before we even opened in the food and beverage department. And I learn from them every day. But you're right, I have had many roles. I started in the kitchen down here and I'm going to tell you a story I don't think I've shared in a long time. I came here and didn't tell anyone I could cook. I had a certificate and everything, and I just didn't want anyone to know. I came to ski. Then within two weeks of the kitchen, they put me in the employee dining room and I just couldn't hold back. I was like, oh my God, this is so frustrating. I want to do it. I want to do it. So I ended up running the employee dining room my first year here and I haven't looked back. So from there I went into the kitchen and I did the day restaurants and I've done a little bit of everything. I helped open up Empire Lodge after the Olympics or during the Olympics, actually, right before. And then, you know, I met the man in my life, had a great family and voila, I'm right here now. And very lucky that Julie Wilson was my mentor the entire time. And she believed in me probably more than I did. And that's how I ended up right here with you today.
Tom Kelly: |00:16:18| Did anybody in H.R. ever come back to you and say, Jodie, that was never on your resume?
Jodie Rogers: |00:16:26| You know, I don't think they looked. They just wanted bodies.
Tom Kelly: |00:16:30| That's how it is.
Jodie Rogers: |00:16:31| You know, I hate to say it. I was H-2B visa and we're looking now. We lost them this year. And they're critical to the industry, I think, in many different ways, don't just in beverage, but the ski instructor. So I think that if we could ever have that moment back in life, we definitely do it.
|00:16:49| You know, I don't want to go too far down this path. But it is interesting that you came here as an H-2B
Jodie Rogers: |00:16:54| I did.
Tom Kelly: |00:16:54| That's a controversial topic. But H-2Bs and other visa categories are really essential to the lifeblood of resorts.
Jodie Rogers: |00:17:02| To any seasonal resort. I think that's where you get your professionals that want to keep around, stay around. And that's what their life is. It's their passion. So it comes natural to them.
|00:17:12| So what is it about hospitality and food that really strikes a passion in you?
|00:17:19| Oh, my gosh. I think food just tells a story. And I think that it could get so creative with it. And it just excites me in a way that I can look in and just I can feel what that particular product wants to be. And then I can also take what I learned from the people around me. And what I really, really like is if you get a group of chefs together, don't know if you've ever sat in a kitchen and done this, and the one person comes up with an idea and then in the next ten minutes you have a dish that's completely different. But it was a team effort. And so I really think it's that camaraderie that I love so much. And the food is just a bonus of it.
Tom Kelly: |00:17:58| You know, I think many people I'll use myself as an example, you start cooking off of recipes and you get recipes from mom or from a magazine or the Internet or wherever you get them and you start cooking them. But eventually you start using those recipes more as kind of guidelines.
Jodie Rogers: |00:18:13| They are a guideline. And that is so funny. We get asked for recipes here quite a bit and for the most we can produce them. But for soups and things which everyone loves, there's no recipe where we're winging it. And you're right, I remember the first recipes I learned I could probably rattle them off right now. Chocolate caramel slice. I knew it by heart and now I don't even look at a recipe. I would never know how to read it anymore. It's so bad. It's just a guideline.
Tom Kelly: |00:18:41| So I'll go to the grocery store and my wife will call me and say, what are we going to have for dinner? And I said, I have to wait till the food speaks to me. Yes. So you're a culinary manager. How does the food speak to you?
Jodie Rogers: |00:18:53| You know, I think you can see in ... let's take a steak, for example, you know, for me, I'll go to the grocery store or when we're lucky, we get good product here. So we have specs and stipulations that we're looking for. So within our kitchens here, we'll tell our purveyors, you know, I'm looking for this. I don't want this. And and I think as you start to cook over time, you learn to know what things look and feel and taste like. So you can take something that's raw and you can imagine that finished product. And so I think it takes time and ten years to be able to have this the food speak to you. But, you know, I can look at a nice marbled piece of Wagyu beef right now and know how fabulous it is. And then I'm going to add the foie gras to it, which, you know, the L.A. people probably won't like, but a lot of people still do. So I think it's something that you learn over time. It's like tying your shoes. You don't know straight away how to do it and you can't figure out how mum does it. You'll figure out your own way. So. I don't know if that's a hard question, really.
Tom Kelly: |00:19:54| So when you look at what you have to do here every day, you have a number of your venues where you have a set menu. It's the menu for the season and you've got to stick with that. And you have some venues where you can be a little bit more creative every evening.
Jodie Rogers: |00:20:07| Correct. And so that helps us. Actually, what that does not only gives the guests an amazing experience like Fireside and Seafood Dining, they will change menus every two weeks. It used to be every week, but right now it's a little hard to do that. So, yeah. And for that, we want to keep the creativity. And I say that we need those restaurants and we also need the stability of what the skipper expects during the day. And what that does in the background is that helps us grow employees from, you know, that little bud that came into us at 14 years old that is still here at 35 years old and is now running the place. And we get to teach and nurture them in such a way. So the way we have our restaurant set up really, really is conducive to that. And that's probably why we have a 60 plus percent retention rate was so lucky. So I think I love the way we do it here.
Tom Kelly: |00:21:01| So you have to do all of that every day in a mountain environment where you have the elements, you have lodges that are not that accessible. How much of a challenge does that put into what you do?
Jodie Rogers: |00:21:16| You know, I think that you have to, you have to adapt over time. You know, I'm not ordering today for tomorrow. I can't do that. I have to be ahead. And so, like, we spent the whole summer on our COVID plan, we spent the whole summer figuring out what we wanted to change on the menu, what has to be stable. And we also re-evaluate what we've bought in the past and try and upgrade it all the time so that it's always the better experience. For example, you know, turkey chili, we need a lot of turkey for that. So we go out and we have a great company that does it for us. And we work with them to make sure that there's no fat in there, that's mostly white meat. We keep the bone so we can make stock. And so there's so much background work that people don't know to get the food on the plate. But I think that's what keeps us all going as well, especially when many, many of our guests are sustainably and environmentally mind set. So we can give that story. And I think a story is amazing when it comes to food as well.
Tom Kelly: |00:22:16| The other challenging thing that I've noticed over time, you have a couple of really amazing evening dining experience. One Fireside Dining at the Empire Lodge up in the mountain and then the Seafood Buffet here as Snow Park. I don't think people realize sometimes when they come in how you've had to completely transform an entire building in a period of an hour or two.
Jodie Rogers: |00:22:39| It is. It's a theatrical experience. And I remember one of our old chefs, Steve, he was here forever. And he was so artsy and crafty. And if people that don't know food and beverages are very creative profession. And so what the chefs have to do is they have to turn the stage over. And that's how we look at it. We've got the stage during the day and then at night it has to become this fashion parade. So but instead of using clothes and shoes, we're doing it with food. And it's unbelievable what these guys can pull off. And and not only that, the experience they get here, they're not going to get anywhere else because I don't know any resort that really does that, you know, changing over and utilizing a whole large environment to make a beautiful dining restaurant at night time with sleigh rides even.
Tom Kelly: |00:23:31| Yeah, it is amazing. The sleigh ride is wonderful. It is. It really is. I know there's no such thing as a typical day, but Jody, what's a typical day like?
Jodie Rogers: |00:23:40| You know, it's as typical as it gets. You know, I'm always on call. I always wake up to a few texts, a couple of phone calls. No problem. They're always usually pretty easy or just saying, hi, I'd like to get up. And I generally go to the gym. I get changed. I head to Deer Valley Grocery Cafe. Go visit the guys. Good coffee, that's why that's my first stop. And then it depends on, you know, like today the ski count's a little higher and it's a little later in the week where people have checked in the been here a few days. So we just opened Empire. Now that's going to be popular. So I'll head up there for a little bit. Maybe I've gotten a phone call during the day with Silver Lake, so I guess we're a little short on staff, can you come fill in with them. Same at Snow Park. I office at Snow Park so I spent a lot more time down here, but I do like to go and see everyone who works for us and to make sure that they don't need anything from me and I can't offer them anything. So I like to touch each point every day.
Tom Kelly: |00:24:33| Do you ski around the mountain?
Jodie Rogers: |00:24:34| Yes, I wish I could. I've done that. And when the cabins are open, I'll totally go back to doing that. And what I do like is my kids come up and I'll meet them and then we'll ski between a lodge. So the answer's yes, but not often enough.
Tom Kelly: |00:24:47| So you are also in a world where trends are. Constantly changing. Oh, yes. How do you stay on top of that?
Jodie Rogers: |00:24:56| I cheat a little bit. Now I'm going to have to share, aren't I?
Tom Kelly: |00:25:01| Yes, you are.
Jodie Rogers: |00:25:02| So most of us know when you're from Australia, we're a season ahead of everybody else. And that's key for me. I definitely keep in touch with a lot of friends that are in the industry there. I read a lot of magazines and I always feel my job is to keep everyone educated on what's coming next. So for me, that's the exciting part about not cooking and having to sit in my office and answer emails. I can double down and research what's coming. And there's some great areas in this country that are also ahead of the game and researching as well. So I make sure and follow the right people and look at what trends are happening everywhere. There are some really good resources and I've got some really good contacts. So that's how it helps me. But really, it's the Australia connection.
Tom Kelly: |00:25:44| What are some hits you've had the last few years with new additions to your menu that have been really popular?
Jodie Rogers: |00:25:51| You know, I think Silver Lake's been our biggest hit up there. A few years ago, we did a remodel, if you recall, and we added in a pho station that was a pizza station before. But what we found is the pizza was in one room and the family wanted burgers in the other room. So we took all those fun items, put them all together and gave us a trendy, fun, healthy option in the ski resort. So that is a very, very popular thing. We changed. The other thing we added was the taco station up there. We took the deli station away, put in the tacos. And I'll tell you what, they are so popular. I think I hold the record for the amount of tacos sold on one day. The tongs were getting very heavy.
Tom Kelly: |00:26:32| I loved what you did with the taco station. That's awesome. I was right up my alley and I couldn't believe you did it for the price you did it.
Jodie Rogers: |00:26:39| We did. We did. And then you know what a lot of people didn't know secret inside a tip. You don't have to get all three. You can get one. You can get two. You can get six if you want.
Tom Kelly: |00:26:48| I never got to six.
|00:26:50| No, I think that's why we fill them up. We stuffed them.
Tom Kelly: |00:26:53| I had three for sure. Yeah. I have to ask you about one, about one other item and I suspect it probably has been on the menu, but I only noticed it this year. But you've got a hot dog on your menu.
Jodie Rogers: |00:27:03| We do. We have a very famous hot dog on our menu. And we have people that come and buy it by the case because they love it so much and we've always had it. It's all beef, hot dog. It's nothing fancy. It's just what we just did a research to make sure it had the least amount of artificial flavorings and all of that. So it's an all natural beef hot dog and it comes with, you know, the mushrooms and onions and cheese and onions, whatever you want. But I didn't try and keep it a secret. I am surprised you've been here so long.
Tom Kelly: |00:27:33| I was just distracted by ...
Jodie Rogers: |00:27:35| The kids. Love it.
Tom Kelly: |00:27:37| Well, I was just distracted by the stews and the turkey. They kind of go-tos, you know, so I get it. But I'll give it a try. You didn't bring any with you.
Jodie Rogers: |00:27:46| Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm sure I know someone.
Tom Kelly: |00:27:50| We're with Jody Rogers, director of Food and beverage at Deer Valley Resort. And we'll be back after this short break. And we're going to learn about the history of turkey chili.
Jodie Rogers: |00:27:58| That's right.
Tom Kelly: |00:28:04| One of the most wonderful places to visit during the holiday season is Utah's Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley, Olympic champion Stein Eriksen brought a special style with him from Norway to Deer Valley, a feeling that still pervades Stein Eriksen Lodge today. I try to stop in whenever I can to take a look at Stein's Olympic medals in the trophy case in the lobby or join lunch at the glittering restaurant. I was there last week to check out the amazing gingerbread house on display in the lobby. Make sure to bring the kids for that over the holidays. Stein's is Utah's only Forbes five star hotel and spa with a world renowned culinary team led by chef Zane Holmquist. My wife was quite pleased when I just told her we were going to Sunday brunch soon at Stein's. The legendary Stein's skier's buffet and the Sunday brunch are both available all winter long now being served family style. Little insider's apres ski tip. If you have the family in town with you for the holidays, bring the kids to the Champions Club Entertainment Center. After skiing, Stein Eriksen Lodge is located in Silver Lake Village, a great spot for lunch or apres ski. Now let's get back to our interview with Deer Valley's Jodie Rogers.
Tom Kelly: |00:29:20| And we're back at Deer Valley Resort in Snow Park Lodge today with Jodie Rogers. Jodie, everybody who's been to Deer Valley has had the turkey chili, and I don't honestly know the history, but do you have an idea of when it began and how it became so popular?
Jodie Rogers: |00:29:36| Yeah, I want to say Julie shared a lot of that with me. My memory's not so good. However, it was right when they opened up the first or second year, I believe, up in Silver Lake. They had a chef and like I mentioned before, keeping the creativity, having fun, letting the chefs be awesome at what they do. And one of the guys wanted to do a take on chili. He was just having some fun. So the chef up there came up with this turkey chili and it was a special and that's how most of our menu items come about, is we run specials. People love them, so we keep them and we will never be able to get rid of turkey chili. So, yeah, just a chef that was being creative.
Tom Kelly: |00:30:15| And is there have you ever been able to pinpoint what it is it'd mean? Do people feel it's a healthier version or something about the taste? What is it?
Jodie Rogers: |00:30:26| You know, I think it's a little bit of all of those things. It looks different. It is different. It's a white version. Yes. People think the turkey is a lot healthier and it is a lot healthier. But the turkey chili, it's just different and fun. And I think it kind of melds together and kind of gives the Mexican community or the south so, you know, Southern cuisine, the people in the community were represented. And so I think it's a fusion for those immigrants that come in and the natives to the desert. It's an interesting concept.
Tom Kelly: |00:31:10| Do you have any idea how much turkey chili you go through a day or in a season?
Jodie Rogers: |00:31:15| Yeah, so I was asked to track this one year. It was just a couple of years ago and we were doing it for our employee information and we were going through on the busiest days at each lodge, anywhere from 50 to 100 gallons a day. And that's during the 10 day busiest, you know, Christmas period alone. So it's a little less on every other day. But that's a lot of turkey chili. If you take I think we have one hundred and twenty three days in the season somewhere around there. It's a lot. Millions, hundreds of thousands.
Tom Kelly: |00:31:45| I can't do the math that quickly. But that is a lot of turkey.
Jodie Rogers: |00:31:49| So it's a lot of kettles. We look at it in kettles because it's a 50 gallon batch. So it's like, how many batches have you made in each batch is four to five buckets. We talk in buckets and batches.
Tom Kelly: |00:32:03| You cook big.
Jodie Rogers: |00:32:04| Big.
Tom Kelly: |00:32:06| Very big.
Jodie Rogers: |00:32:07| Yes.
Tom Kelly: |00:32:07| Do you know the other item that I really like kind of on that same vein are the various stews that you put out.
Jodie Rogers: |00:32:12| Yes. The beef bourguignon down here is delightful.
Tom Kelly: |00:32:16| It's amazing. And particularly, I'm a big fan of Fireside Dining, the stews that you put out there as well.
Jodie Rogers: |00:32:21| You know, I remember when we came up with the veal stew, that was one of the staples that we wanted to have there. And that was a fun recipe to develop with the team. But you're right. I think to me, stews speak mountains, they're comfy food, they're homey food. You're out freezing on the mountain and you can come in and just warm up with that bowl of stew with your hands and tummy and what have you. And I agree. I think they do a fabulous job.
Tom Kelly: |00:32:48| Now, we've touched on a number of things that you have innovated here at Deer Valley Resort during covid. Yes. And. Maybe you could just go walk through some of those things and you know that all resorts are facing this right now. How to create a good customer experience and keep everybody comfortable. What has been your approach on food service and trying to continue to provide a good experience but do it in a safe manner?
Jodie Rogers: |00:33:12| Yeah, that's been a really big team effort. Like I mentioned earlier, we were very lucky. We have a great relationship with the health department. And so part of our job has always been the health and safety of any diner that we have. But now, you know, it's not just food services. It's people being around people and it's about crowding. So we've taken out the majority of our seats. We have about, you know, 30 percent to 40 percent of our seats that we would have had generally with definitely social distance. One thing, one huge change that's been you know, we're still adapting right now is all of our day cafeterias have gone to a la carte service. And so you'll come in and it's not like people can just move around and enjoy our beautiful life just like they could before they have to have a reservation. They can walk in and make a reservation, but you have to be greeted by a host set down and then the service will come and serve you. All menus are online, so we've got less contact tracing there. That's been a big thing you'll notice all over the floors as little dickheads with arrows. And that's how social distancing stickers of six feet. Our tables are at ten feet right now. So we really over thought it a little bit. But my philosophy behind all the decisions we made was let's try not to take anything away. Let's try and give them the guest experience, the difference, and really try not to take anything away so that that was how we kind of operated there.
Tom Kelly: |00:34:35| Were you able to also draw on the experiences of other partner resorts across Alterra?
Jodie Rogers: |00:34:41| Yeah, you know, we talk a lot, actually. We have monthly calls and we kind of brainstorm together on those kind of things. Unfortunately, every state is different. And right now, I think we're the only people serving inside right now due to the covid. So we're extremely lucky to have in in in facility dining sterile on decks or outside or grab and go. So, yeah, we have been kind of collaborating on all of that. It's been very hard. It's such that this industry has been hit so hard. It breaks my heart.
Tom Kelly: |00:35:12| You are very involved in the industry. I know. And do you stay in touch with colleagues around the country and around the world to see what they're experiencing? I do.
Jodie Rogers: |00:35:21| I do. I have lots of friends going back to my culinary days at the Sydney Boulevard Hotel, have people in England that I still keep in touch with. Some of them have moved over here to San Francisco and following the great people on Instagram. And what have we do before Facebook and Instagram? Right. That's how I keep up. And people that have come and gone from here, as well, have gone on to do wonderful things. So I feel really lucky to form some amazing relationships.
Tom Kelly: |00:35:49| You know, one of the terms - we've all learned a lot of new terms and covid and one that skier's have probably not used a whole lot in the past is grab and go. Grab and go is hugely important right now. What can I grab, put in the pocket of my parka and eat on a chair.
Jodie Rogers: |00:36:06| Absolutely normal around and find a table. You don't need a table, you just get on that chair lift. And what we're going to offer you is a great . We have Mediterranean vegetable wrap that you can throw in your pocket. We have our chicken Caesar wraps. We have a buffalo chicken wrap that you can put in there. We still have turkey chili. So you can grab that and take it in a cup and go, your coffee, anything like that. But we really tried to do that menu around what people could put in their pocket, get on the lift or even enjoy the scenery at the top of the mountain and eat it.
Tom Kelly: |00:36:38| You have been very active in the community, I know, and have been particularly interested in kids. Yeah, talk about your engagement here in the greater Park City community and how you have been able to give back to others.
Jodie Rogers: |00:36:52| I am very lucky that we've been in times where lots of non-profits have started to evolve around things that I'm passionate about. So I've been very involved in it. And I think most people around here would know that it stands for Eat Awesome Things at school. Many, many years ago when that developed, I was at the first meeting in the district to try to figure out how we could get from scratch cooking in the schools. That was the ultimate goal back then, but also how to educate kids on what's healthy, what's not really help them understand about gardens and vegetables and just the nutritional value. What we realized there was a niche that was missing, you know, this free and reduced lunches around here. And we wanted to be able to raise money so that they could eat, too. So since those days, the AIDS programs come on to have they have gardens in our vertical gardens, in every school. They have outside gardens, in most of the schools. The kids are being educated on it. I've gone in personally and taught classes on vegetables or how to cook or knife skills, you know, so they don't cut their finger. But I just love going in and teaching them what's natural and what's nice. And, you know, not all of them are lucky enough to be able to know a cucumber goes on a vine, you know, and you can pull that and eat it.
Tom Kelly: |00:38:14| They know they can go to the grocery store and it's wrapped in plastic. And to actually have a kid in front of you have that aha moment. Just it melts my heart. I do. I love it.
Tom Kelly: |00:38:25| We are really blessed in this community to have so many nonprofits that address these niche areas. But it's one that I've watched grow over the last few years. I know your engagement has been really instrumental for those kids.
Jodie Rogers: |00:38:38| Well, I'm very thankful that they are willing to listen to me. I think they really just like the accent.
Tom Kelly: |00:38:44| Well, that certainly worked that at work, that's for sure.
Tom Kelly: |00:38:49| Jodie, just a few thoughts in closing. You have been recognized, I know, with many, many awards. Is there one that really stands out for you, though, is something that really warmed your heart? There was.
Jodie Rogers: |00:39:02| And it wasn't that long ago, and it was right when I took over this position. So I wasn't cooking so much anymore. And it was the Utah from the Utah Restaurant Association awarded me with the Utah Chef of the year. Why that was so special is one, they kept it all from me. I mean, I sit on the board and I had no idea. The funny story behind it is I didn't really want to go that night. I just know, sometimes you just don't want to do those things. And anyway, my team was all coming. I had no idea I'd been forced into going down. I brought my daughter because my husband had to go to work. You know, it was a series of unfortunate events. And I got there and I had a wine. And the next thing you know, the awards start and I have a mouthful of food. And they're announcing, like what? I would think that's a top award first. And I about cried and choked on my meat, but it's like it was my name and I was like, oh, my God, that's why all these people are sitting by me right now. So that was really special for me.
Tom Kelly: |00:40:03| Those are really the best.
Jodie Rogers: |00:40:04| It was. And to spend it with my team and for them to do it all behind my back, I mean, there's no joking. Chefs cannot keep a secret. And they kept that secret. It was impressive.
Tom Kelly: |00:40:15| I do a lot of awards programs and I've tried to do that in the past and I have accomplished it. But it's really hard. Yeah, something like that. A secret. Yes, it is. Well, congratulations to you. Thank you. A few other thoughts before we get to our fun round of fresh tracks. You work in an industry that really has been under siege now for the last eight or eight or nine months. But you seem to have a very positive, forward thinking, optimistic viewpoint on things.
Jodie Rogers: |00:40:42| You know, again, I'm so lucky to be surrounded by so many intelligent people. I sit on the board for the Utah Restaurant Association as well, also the Park City Area Restaurant Association, and to be in the midst of a pandemic and watch people lose their businesses. It's heartbreaking. And I, I just can't stand it. I've always tried to be that positive, happy person that brings the best of everyone out. But I really look at this pandemic as an opportunity. I mean, you know, that's the only difference that they've taught me. And I think that we have to take these opportunities, learn from them and be the leaders. I mean, we right now have an opportunity to be the best again. You know, back in the 80s when we opened up, Deer Valley was it for food? And we now have that priority to make sure that we continue that with a pandemic and also achieve it and have those goals set.
Tom Kelly: |00:41:37| Do you see that there are some innovations or changes you're making now that will live on past the end of the pandemic?
Jodie Rogers: |00:41:44| Absolutely. You know, Royal Street this year, I still can't believe my aha moment there. We served on the larger deck. You know, we've always served over by Royal Street up there, and it's closest to the lift and small deck. You could only do like 70 something people. Well, we moved it out so we could social distance this year. We used the larger deck. We had more tables in there and we were more successful than we've ever been. So out of every pandemic comes something good. And we'll probably continue that.
Tom Kelly: |00:42:12| Well, I hope we don't have to test things up. Pandemics.
Jodie Rogers: |00:42:15| Me either.
Tom Kelly: |00:42:16| I do think that there will be some good things coming out of this. Any advice for guests coming here to Deer Valley Resort this winter for the holiday or whenever in the season?
Jodie Rogers: |00:42:26| Well, I think if people feel safe in traveling, Deer Valley is definitely a safe place to be. But be aware of the changes. And our website has every COVID web site to go in and educate yourself and know that we are doing reservations because we do want to keep people safe for restaurants. And then if you've got condos and you've got plans to come out here and you don't have a ski ticket, you need to get it now. Now's the time. Get online and get those key tickets.
Tom Kelly: |00:43:01| You can also get information at SkiUtah Dotcom, and they've done a great job at indexing that for all of the resorts across the state. One final note before we get to our fun round. What has the hospitality industry meant to you?
Jodie Rogers: |00:43:15| Oh, my gosh. I think the hospitality industry has helped me grown into the person I am today. It's helped me be patient. It's helped me be nurturing. It's made me proud to be who I am. There are a lot of things in the food and beverage industry that inhibits a lot of growth in women in leadership, women in leadership and devilly. And this industry is really helped me really be proactive in that. And I want to be the person that everyone wants to look up to, especially those young kids at a school. I want to go get them now. I want to teach them and knife skills at two years old. And I want to keep this business strong.
Tom Kelly: |00:43:53| Good, good words. Now we'll have a little fun.
Jodie Rogers: |00:43:56| Let's do it.
Tom Kelly: |00:43:56| Yes. OK, so we're going to move on now to fresh tracks, which shall we end every episode of last year with. And just a few fun things to learn a little bit more about you, Jodie. Simple one, your favorite ski run here at Deer Valley.
Jodie Rogers: |00:44:09| Solid Muldoon.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:10| I love Solid Muldoon.
Jodie Rogers: |00:44:13| It's hard. It's going to go straight, right?
Tom Kelly: |00:44:16| This is the thing I shouldn't say. But if you really go down Solid Muldoon ... Well, now I'm not even going to go there.
Jodie Rogers: |00:44:22| You're going to get us both in trouble because they'll know how I do it, too.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:25| Exactly right.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:27| Do you have a favorite run outside of Deer Valley?
Jodie Rogers: |00:44:31| Now, I God, I have to think I don't go anywhere else, and that's part of my problem. So I'm going to say I love Round Valley. I know it's not a ski run, but, you know, hiking. I got to go that route.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:44| Do you cross country ski at all?
Jodie Rogers: |00:44:45| Not yet. I'm going to it's on my bucket list.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:47| That's good.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:48| How about your favorite activity outside of skiing?
Jodie Rogers: |00:44:53| Hiking with the dogs, snowshoeing. I do like a good wine. Very good wine.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:00| Any suggestions?
Jodie Rogers: |00:45:02| You know, I'm into the roses right now.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:04| Roses have really made a bit of a renaissance.
Jodie Rogers: |00:45:07| They have and they can be, you know, so many varieties. You can go dry, you could go sweet, you can go bubbly, you can go mellow. Yes. So diverse. Just like me.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:18| So let's see, favorite restaurant outside of Deer Valley.
Jodie Rogers: |00:45:22| This is a question that could get me in a lot of trouble,
Tom Kelly: |00:45:25| It could but you can maybe spread it out.
Jodie Rogers: |00:45:27| Let's spread it out. Love, Shabu. I love the boys in the team. Riverhorse on Main is certainly a good one. And I can't not mention 350 Main.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:38| Really good collection. You have so many choices here, I know, and that's why I don't go very far.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:45| We like Riverhorse in particular.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:48| Your favorite Utah craft beer craft beer?
Jodie Rogers: |00:45:51| Saint Provo Girl. I know that's an old one.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:55| Wow. No one has gone there.
Jodie Rogers: |00:45:59| And everyone's thinking she's female and she likes that. Well, I got to tell you why you must have a story. I have a story.
Jodie Rogers: |00:46:06| I mean, I still have the signed poster of Alise, who was the St. Pauli Girl for Greg Shirff at Wasatch Brewery, right?
Tom Kelly: |00:46:15| That's right.
Jodie Rogers: |00:46:15| He did some fabulous things. And I ever since he did that one, I have just respected him immensely. I don't even care what it tastes like.
Tom Kelly: |00:46:24| Let's be honest, it is so much about beer is marketing. And Greg just was a wunderkind in marketing for those who don't know Greg. Sure. If he was the one who literally changed the state law in the 80s to allow brewpubs and he opened Wasatch BrewPub on the top of Main and the rest is history. Opened really a floodgate not just here in Utah, but across the country at resorts coast to coast.
Jodie Rogers: |00:46:48| There's no way we would have Three Wives Vodka right now if it weren't for Greg.
Tom Kelly: |00:46:53| That's exactly right. Or Polygamy Porter.
Tom Kelly: |00:46:56| But if you were back home in Australia, what would you like?
Jodie Rogers: |00:47:01| A VB - Victoria Bitter. It's a good one. Yes, it's a good one.
Tom Kelly: |00:47:05| Last question I pose to everyone. Groomer's Bump's Glades or Powder.
Jodie Rogers: |00:47:11| I'm a lazy skier, I'm a mom and I have to save myself all the time. I'v got to go groomer's.
Tom Kelly: |00:47:18| Groomer's are totally fine. Good. Maybe not so much for people I work with, but I like them.
Tom Kelly: |00:47:24| Let them go off to the Daly Chutes and you can hit Solid Muldoon.
Jodie Rogers: |00:47:28| That's it.
Tom Kelly: |00:47:29| Jodie Rodgers, it has been a delight to have you with us today. Thank you for all you've done here at Deer Valley Resort and in the community and for really providing a great experience for all of the skiers coming to Utah this winter.
Jodie Rogers: |00:47:42| Well, thank you so much for having me. It's been a blast.
Tom Kelly: |00:47:51| What great enthusiasm Jodie Rogers brings to her job at Deer Valley Resort. She oversees one of the toughest areas to manage at a resort right now and does it with a smile. Thanks for joining us, Jody. And to all of you listening today, thanks for joining us for another episode of Last Chair, the Ski Utah podcast presented by High West Distillery. This episode has also been brought to you by Stein Eriksen Lodge. Stop by this holiday season and see the Gingerbread House. And Deer Valley Resort. Happy fortieth anniversary to Deer Valley Resort in Park City. Deer Valley revolutionized skiing by offering first class service in the mountains 40 years ago. And that tradition still continues today to help make the most of your ski vacation. Deer Valley does limit the number of lift tickets sold each day. So do make sure to pre purchase your lift tickets in advance at Deer Valley Dotcom to guarantee access to the mountain day of onsite lift ticket sales will not be available this season at Deer Valley. Yes, things will feel a little different this year at Deer Valley, but its dedication to providing an exceptional guest service experience remains exactly the same. I've been out to Deer Valley a few times this year and I have had a great time skiing there. The Ski Utah last year podcast is brought to you by high U.S. distillery. Follow our whisky adventure on all social media platforms @DrinkHighWest and remember, sip responsibly. High West Whiskey 46 percent alcohol by volume. High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. If you enjoyed the podcast, hit the Like Button and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. We'll be back with plenty of guests over the coming months. Now let's turn it over to Pixie in the party grass boys to close out this episode from all of us at Ski, Utah. Have a happy holiday. Thanks for listening. I'm Tom Kelly, your host for last year, presented by High West. I'll see you on the slopes this holiday season.
Leave Your Comment