FEED ME! Friendly ghost of restaurant past returns

By on April 23, 2015
arah and Chris Pittenger are the organizers of a special JH pop-up dinner. Chris worked as a server/sommelier at Restaurant Terroir and today is a winemaker in California. (Photo: Sarah Pettinger)

arah and Chris Pittenger are the organizers of a special JH pop-up dinner. Chris worked as a server/sommelier at Restaurant Terroir and today is a winemaker in California. (Photo: Sarah Pettinger)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Get your tickets now. There will only be about 50 seats at what is sure to be one of the best meals of the summer. June 29, 14 guys (sadly they are all men) that worked together at Restaurant Terroir between 1998-2001 are having a reunion at Terroir’s former space, which is now Bistro Trio.

Tickets for the six-course meal — each course is paired with wine or a cocktail — are $150 and all proceeds benefit the Trust for Public Land.

“We’ve all talked loosely about getting the group back together for years, but it’s hard to make it happen with everyone so busy with families and careers,” said Chris Pittenger, a former server and certified sommelier at Terroir who, with wife Sarah, spearheaded this effort. “At times I think herding cats is an appropriate analogy,” said Pittenger, who, today is the winemaker and owner at Gros Ventre Cellars on California’s Sonoma Coast.

The menu? “The chefs bounced around lots of ideas, like country Japanese, Southern-inspired, Malaysian flavors, and all sorts of crazy stuff,” Pittenger says. “We settled on the theme ‘Foods of the Earth’ (Terroir) and each of the three chefs will put his own style on it.”

While Terroir’s chefs weren’t particularly distinguished back in their Terroir days — many of them were just starting out their careers — in the decade-plus since Terroir shuttered its doors, many of them, as well as servers and expeditors, have gone on to quite illustrious careers.

“This ‘family’ has gone on to do some pretty cool stuff in food and wine, all from our start at Terroir,” Pittenger said. “We had a great connection and a lot of fun the years we worked together, and big dreams. Seeing how everyone’s careers have unfolded from those dreams has been pretty amazing.”

Ken Fredrickson, a Terroir partner and its head sommelier, is now based in Chicago and is one of only 129 master sommeliers in the U.S. He also owns vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina, and operates an artisanal wine and spirits wholesaler in Chicago.

Chef Jeff Osaka is a 2014 James Beard semi-finalist and is the chef/owner at one of Denver’s most acclaimed eateries, Restaurant Twelve.

Chef Jason Barwikowski is now living in Portland, Ore., and in 2012 The Oregonian named the restaurant he helmed, The Woodsman Tavern, Rising Star of the Year. Eater magazine has proclaimed his upcoming restaurant Tastebud among “The 33 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2015.”

The list just goes on.

Other Terroir alums have gone on to own restaurants, make wines, and own wineries or distilleries. The renegade is Ben Roth, who was a partner in Terroir and today is an artist, owner of Ben Roth Design, and the designer of the labels Pittenger uses for Gros Ventre Cellars’ wines.

What was in Jackson’s water back then?

If you don’t have $150 for the pop-up feast at Trio, the following evening, there’s a wine tasting event from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bin22 for only a nominal fee. Fredrickson will be there as will Pittenger, Brian Smith (Jolie Folle, Loca Linda Wines and Club W) and Matt Courtney (formerly of Marcassin and currently with the new Ferren Wines label).

Reservations are required for the pop-up feast at Trio.

Pittenger wasn’t sure how Trio would react when he brought up the idea, he said.

“How would you feel if someone that used to live in your house popped in and took over the kitchen and slept in your bed?” he said.

But the Trio crew being the Trio crew, of course they were awesome and supportive of the idea from the start.

“While I can’t speak for Paul [Wireman, one of Trio’s owners], I feel like there is something about that Trio/Terroir restaurant space that has a bit of a fraternal element to it,” Pittenger said. “We’ve all worked hard over the years under that roof to elevate the JH dining experience so this is perhaps a nod to the past and a look to the future of the food and wine movement that is exploding right now in this town.”

Terroir Pop-Up Feast, 6:30 p.m., June 29 at Trio, 45 S. Glenwood St. $150. Call 734-8038 for reservations.

About Geraldine Mishev

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