by Morton D. Rosenbaum | January 01, 2006

Steven Topple

"Just trust the chef. If you have a theme, let us work with it.”

Steven Topple, executive sous chef at The Lodge at Vail (Colo.), a RockResort, is something of a favorite chef among small, luxurious properties. His enviable career has led him from his hometown in England to some of the country’s finest resorts. M&C talked with Topple while he was gearing up for the launch of his new cookbook, So You Want to Impress (Authorhouse).

What’s the most exciting thing you’re doing at work? This summer, we started a four- to six-course blind-tasting menu. The guests just tell us what they don’t eat if someone doesn’t like olives, say, or fish, or if someone is a vegetarian and we surprise them. Everyone seems to love it.

Have you enjoyed living in different parts of the world? It’s one of the greatest things about being a chef. I was in culinary school in England for three years, then Scotland, then Lake Placid Lodge in the Adirondacks, then in San Francisco with Wolfgang Puck. At the Lodge at Sea Island [Ga.], every room had butler service. When I came here from Georgia and saw all the snow it was beautiful.

What should planners know about your job? I’d ask them to just trust the chef. If you have a theme, let us work with it. Last month, we created a whiskey-themed dinner for one of our clients, and it was terrific fun.

What should diners never say when you ask about the meal? The worst is when people say, “It’s all right.” If it’s good, then of course I’d love to hear it. But if it’s bad, then tell me so I can fix it!