Dude Ranch Life- The spotlight is on Chef JT

winter staff luxury guest ranch vacation

Every once in a while, Chef John Thompson– also known as “JT”– steps out from behind the kitchen doors.  Even though they rave about his culinary creations, many of our guests don’t get a chance to meet him during their stay.  JT is the yin to Chef Chol’s yang, and how they complement one another is the key to the success of our culinary program.  We interviewed him the other day so you can all get to know him a bit better.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Hanford, CA.

Q: What brought you to Colorado?

A: I moved to Boulder so Erica, my wife, could go to grad school at CU Boulder, and for me it was a chance to jump into the incredible food scene in that city.

Q: Did you think you would be a chef when you were growing up?

A: No, being a chef was not on my radar as a kid, but my mom and grandma were incredible cooks, and I spent tons of time in the kitchen with the both of them.

Q:  How did you get into the culinary arts?

A: I was offered a job as a prep cook while visiting a friend at the restaurant where he waited tables. The chef said, “What are you doing today?” My answer was, “I’m out looking for a job.” He asked me if I could start tomorrow, and so here I am–15 years later.

Q: Who do you admire in the culinary world?

A: Some of the leading chefs I follow are Sean Brock, David Chang, Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Daniel Humm, David Kinch, and Corey Lee.

Q: How would you describe your style of cooking?

A: I love American food.  I think of America as a melting pot–it has a very unique style of food and a rich history of using local and in-season ingredients to recreate the food of all our ancestral past as our own.

Q: What is one tip you think everyone should know for cooking at home?

A: Keep your tools in good shape and always use the best produce and ingredients you can find.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: I spend time with my wife Erica and our baby Althea.  I am an avid angler (the ranch staff teased us that we would name our baby “Brooke Trout”), so I still find time to fly fish with my fishing buddy/dog Goldie every chance I get.

Q:  How has ranch life been for you and your family?

A: Finding the ranch is the best thing that ever happened to me and my family. Our “ranch family” makes being so far away from our real family much easier. I look forward to going to work every day as much as I look forward to being in nature on my days off.  It’s a very unique opportunity to be a chef in such an amazing setting. I love that I can take a 10-minute break to hang out with my family and that they are only steps away from the kitchen.