Tahoe’s West Shore Cafe: New chef, innovative menu

THE LAKE TAHOE AREA’S NATURAL beauty and laid-back lifestyle has long been a draw for accomplished chefs and restaurateurs from all over. Back in the ’70s, Douglas Dale, the chef and owner of Wolfdale’s in Tahoe City, worked in big cities but he said he was “bedazzled” at Lake Tahoe’s “jaw-dropping” beauty and decided to stay. And he’s still at the helm.

Since then, a long list of culinary talents have come to the area—John and Nyna Weatherson of Restaurant Trokay, who relocated from New York; Jacob Burton of Stella restaurant, who graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco; and Andrew Shimer of Christy Hill Lakeside Bistro, who trained under some of San Francisco’s top chefs.

This winter, the West Shore Café in Homewood has a new executive chef—Kristi Ritchey, who was a chef at popular restaurants in the Los Angeles area and in Napa Valley. At age 26, while at the Murano Restaurant and Lounge, LA Direct Magazine named Kristi one of Los Angeles’ top chefs.

Kristi plans to bring her creative fusion of Italian and French cooking styleswith a fresh twist to the West Shore’s menu this winter. She plans to focus on fresh, healthy options—possible in winter thanks to purveyors such as Produce Plus, dedicated to supplying chefs with year ’round fresh, organic produce.

“I want to focus on fresh, local, seasonal products,” says Kristi. “Whether a simple salad, soup or a composed entrée, it has to be the best.”

Some menu items include roasted cauliflower and pomegranate salad (baby arugula, romanesco, crispy prosciutto and shaved Pecorino); kale salad; and acorn squash soup (spiced pumpkin seeds and marble rye breadcrumbs).

Entrées include cioppino, spiced prawns, duck confit cannelloni and short rib.

New this winter, the West Shore’s “brunch-ish” lunch hours are a hit, with the café doors opening at 10 a.m. Menu items include a baked apple pancake with vanilla yogurt sauce and candied nuts. After a big day on the slopes of Homewood Mountain Resort, skiers and riders can jump across the street for West Shore Après Ski specials and complimentary s’mores.

(Photo: West Shore Cafe)

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