When it comes to jobs, there are human years and there are chef years. As intensely creative beings, chefs sometimes jump from workplace to workplace (and kitchen to kitchen) more frequently than, say, accountants or schoolteachers.
Today, Inn co-owner Marilee Spanjian announced that Tostrup will take his final bow on October 30, just before the Inn closes for stick season. When the first flakes begin falling, the chef will be sharpening his knives in a kitchen not too far away — Epic at Solitude, the fine-dining restaurant at Okemo Mountain in Ludlow.
"We can all agree he is an amazingly talented chef," wrote Spanjian. "But what you may not know is Jason's love and commitment to his wife and young children. This new position will allow him to be home at night. No more dinner shifts."
Tostrup came to the Inn almost a decade ago after stints at Colorado's La Renaissance Restaurant and Thomas Keller's Bouchon, and subsequently became one of the first Vermont chefs to energetically build relationships with local farmers. In 2008, Bon Appetit magazine named the Inn at Weathersfield a "Top 10 Culinary Inn," and in 2010, Fodor's Travel Guides called its Verterra "the best restaurant in Vermont."
Emeril Lagasse dropped in for some televised cookin' in 2009. Along the way, the perpetually effervescent Tostrup became a local leader in the local Slow Food movement.
Of his move to Epic at Solitude, which serves lunch and Saturday night "Snowcat Dinners" during the ski season, Tostrup writes in an email, "It was time to renew myself. I plan to showcase local foods. as well new, healthier options at the restaurant, bringing my unique style to the Snowcat dinners. In the future, I hope to help make Okemo Resort a true four-season culinary destination serving an incredible dining experience."
Chefs come in all sizes and stripes, but Tostrup has always been a first-class chef in a region that sometimes lags behind when it comes to fine dining. He takes things as seemingly simple as burgers and $1 oysters and makes them into delicious works of art. It's bittersweet to see him go — but we're glad he's not going far.
Consequently, the Inn at Weathersfield is on the hunt for a new chef, and is also compiling photographic and written memories of the chef for a booklet they'll put together during stick season. Anyone who wants to weigh in can contact the Inn.
File photo by Tom McNeill