The air is crisp, the snow is melting, and the buzz around McCall is simply palpable. But not for the change of season and excitement for summer ahead but instead, for possibly more important matters: it’s Culinary Festival time! This weekend, four of Idaho’s top chefs are here in McCall to delight guests in three days of high-end cuisine, world-class wine, expert education and some seriously fierce competition.

The 2nd Annual Shore Lodge Culinary Festival kicked off tonight with a bang. This year, we welcome two new-comers to the event: Chef Chris Kastner of CK’s Real Food in Hailey, and Chef Aaron Wermerskirchen of Juniper in Boise. Chef Kaster and Wermerskirchen join Festival veterans Chef Wiley Earl from Alavita and Fork restaurants in Boise and of course, Shore Lodge’s own Chef Steve Topple.

Tonight, the four chefs opened the weekend of events by giving a sold out house the rare, exclusive opportunity to learn from the masters themselves. The chefs hosted simultaneous cooking classes, allowing attendees to ask questions, try their hand at culinary techniques and, yes, enjoy tasting the fruits of their labor. The energy was vibrant and the educational value was immense.

Chef Kastner taught guests how to create the perfect steam bun, advising that when rolling out dough, it’s important to leave a small mound in the middle to create the desired thickness. Chef Earl emphasized the importance of proper tools, explaining that an extra sharp knife is essential not only for technique, but for stability and safety when cutting. Chef Wermerskirchen wowed the crowd with an easy but impressive appetizer, showing how a cool little trick like frying mint for garnish makes a big difference. And Chef Topple showcased the proper way to break down a lobster, helping guests understand that there is more meat to indulge in beyond the claws and tail.

Expert tips like these and many more all came together to produce four extraordinary dishes:

  • Chinese Baked Hoisin Chicken Buns by Chef Kastner
  • Scallop Citrus Ceviche by Chef Earl
  • Slow Roasted Lamb Phyllo Cups with Rhubarb Chutney by Chef Wermerskirchen
  • Butter Poached Lobster Tortellini with Saffron Cream Sauce by Chef Topple

Mouth watering yet? Keep following this blog where we will be releasing the full recipes for each of these dishes soon.

Though it was all friendly fun tonight, tomorrow the kitchen really heats up. Our chefs will go head-to-head in the Culinary King of the Mountain Competition. Modeled after the Food Network’s hit show “Chopped,” the battle will consist of three single elimination rounds in which teams will have to create dishes from a basket of mystery ingredients. The event, which is free and open to the public, kicks off at 9:30 a.m. in the Upper Pavilion. Come on by and cheer on your favorite chef.

During the competition we will also be hosting a free public Farmer’s Market in the Lower Pavilion. Local purveyors will be showcasing the finest foods, wines and culinary wares in Idaho. Enjoy shopping from great vendors such as Long Valley Coffee, Northwood Buffalo, Bella Kitchen and many more.

Day two of the Shore Lodge Culinary Festival is expected to be better than ever and we look forward to seeing all of our foodie friends there. For more information please feel free to call 208-634-2244.