Stella in Truckee to become destination for culinary arts

Stella Restaurant Executive Chef Jacob Burton on Saturday announced a plan to “take Stella Culinary to the next level” that will make it a destination for culinary arts: not just dining but hands-on cooking classes, themed dinner parties and a full scale R&D kitchen for culinary enthusiasts.

We also interviewed Jacob about the changes, which we believe will further raise Truckee’s visibility as a culinary destination, akin to culinary adventures that have drawn visitors to picturesque small towns in Italy and France for years.

“At the beginning of January I approached Patty and Jeff Baird, owners of the Cedar House Sport Hotel and Stella Restaurant, and told them that I wanted to go in a dramatic new direction,” Burton said in an email and podcast to its Stella Culinary followers (including our magazine). “After five years of running Stella as a well respected fine dining restaurant, I felt it was time to finally pursue my life’s passion: teaching others how to cook.

“After much discussion, I’m excited to announce that Stella Culinary will be taking over the Stella Kitchen, teaching hands on cooking classes, doing themed ‘underground’ dinner parties, and turning into a full scale R&D kitchen that’s working year round to develop new content and recipes for the Stella Culinary community.

“Sunday, April 19th will be the last night of regular dinner at Stella Restaurant, so please make your reservations now by calling 530-582-5655. While we will be discontinuing nightly dinner service after April 19th, there will still be plenty of opportunity to dine with us, as my team and I work on developing themed underground dinner parties and hands-on cooking classes (including our signature boot camp). Stay tuned for upcoming dates.”

A podcast of Chef Jacob’s announcement is here.

We are excited about the changes because they are multidimensional — not just dining with Chef Jacob and his team (which will remain intact) but hands-on cooking classes and a kitchen that’s working year round to “develop new content and recipes for the Stella Culinary community,” as Jacob put it. The 40-seat restaurant will be available for private dinner parties and weddings. With its expansion, Stella’s highly popular culinary boot camp will be a big draw for culinary tourists.

We also think the plan fits with Cedar House’s strategy to create an “active lifestyle hotel” centered around culinary and outdoor adventures and comfortable, eco-friendly accommodations. The hotel also includes an in-house touring company, Tahoe Trips & Trails, that offers outdoor adventures to visitors. The Bairds’ broke ground on the hotel in 2004. It is influenced by their experiences traveling in the European Alps.

We continue to remain optimistic about the Tahoe winters, suffering from a drought this year. On the other hand, with some people’s concerns about global warming, it never can hurt to offer a wide array of activities for visitors, including culinary adventures. We’ve always been big believers in the “lifestyle” around skiing, not just the sport itself.

(Photo: Shea Evans)

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