Chef de Cuisine Chris Royster
Chef de Cuisine Chris Royster Flagstaff House's Chef de Cuisine, Chris Royster, a 30 Under 30 as awarded by Zagat, came from a family who appreciated good food. Growing up in Hyde Park, NY, his mother had a cake decorating business when he was young, and his father and grandfathers, being avid hunters, taught him to hunt and fish, and showed him how to make things like sausages and jerky, as well as utilize the entire animal.
Chris's older brother Adam has also been an avid cook, then chef, and the two have influenced each other's cooking their whole lives.
They both had their starts at a local modern American restaurant called The Twist, first as dishwashers, then working their way up through various positions until they were Co-Chefs at the ages of 18 and 19.
Adam went to the CIA in Hyde Park, eventually securing an externship at Flagstaff House in Boulder, CO, which developed into a position as Chef de Cuisine. Chris followed his brother to Colorado, first working at Red Rocks Amphitheater, then cooking at various restaurants through the Three Leaf Concepts entities, including as Sous Chef at Zucca, then Executive Chef at The Huckleberry Café. "The Huck" offered invaluable experience, with a bakery, a catering company, and a busy breakfast, lunch and dinner service. In 2011, Chris joined his brother at Flagstaff House, first as Sous Chef, then when Adam moved back to NY, as Chef de Cuisine.
"I absolutely love working with (co-owner and) Executive Chef Mark Monette," he says. "I've learned everything I knew from researching on my own, and people around me, but I now finally have the mentor I've been looking for. He teaches me new things on a daily basis. We work really well together, coming up with new dishes, pushing the envelope… and he makes it really fun."
Chefs Mark and Chris make changes to the menu daily, depending on which products their purveyors bring to their door, as well as creating new tasting menus from time to time.
Next to cooking, fishing and traveling (and trying new foods while traveling) are his favorite things to do.
"When it comes to food, I love to take classic dishes and recreate them, anyway I can," he says. "I do like molecular gastronomy, as it gives chefs the chance to enhance ingredients to a new level, as well as transform them into something new and creative."
He continues: "I love to use game animals as much as possible. I always loved venison and rabbit growing up, so I like to incorporate those into my menu whenever possible. I also love to go to the farmer's market and just walk back and forth looking at all the foods available from different farms. It's inspiring to see the wonderful array of food that's so fresh and beautiful, and the best part is that it comes right from our backyard. Most of the dishes I have worked on and created have come from me walking around the farmer's market and then sitting down with my sous chef Ben, beers in hand of course, just brainstorming the different ways to prepare specific ingredients I thought looked beautiful. Eventually we create a complete plate that we find to be interesting and inspired."
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