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Noble Chef Series: Chef Thomas Hartwell of Gateway Canyons

Noble Chef Series Chef Thomas Hartwell Gateway Canyons

The executive chef of Gateway Canyons’s Entrada restaurant in Colorado dishes out his dream kitchen equipment, chefs who have inspired him, and his favorite recipe for you to take home.

Chef Thomas Hartwell
Chef Thomas Hartwell

What drew you to the food industry? How did you get started as a chef?

A love for the kitchen instilled in me by my grandmother and mother drew me to the food industry. The first job that really got me going was at a restaurant called Matisse in Santa Rosa, California. I was offered a dishwasher job and was so grateful for the opportunity to work in wine country with a serious team.

Have you traveled at all for culinary inspiration?

Yes, extensively – Germany, France, Jamaica, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Spain, and 15 cities in the United States.

Do you have a signature ingredient that gives your cooking a unique, personal touch?

Yes, “love” and “enthusiasm.”

What is your all-time favorite dish to make?

I have not found my favorite dish yet. I like what we are doing today at Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa, which is paella.

Do you have a favorite wine pairing for the dish?

Light white wines, Alborino, or hard apple ciders.

What is your dream piece of cooking equipment?

Grillworks wood-fired grill and our Yoder Smoker, the grill of choice for serious smoke masters.

Is there a chef (or multiple chefs) that inspired you along your career path?

There are a lot of professional people in my past that have inspired me: Chef Armando Ramirez of Zuzu in Napa; Chef Kuan Kang of Tyson Research and Development; David Chang of Momofuku; and Dan Daughtry, food and beverage director at Edgewater Hotel in Seattle.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not busy in the kitchen?

I like to spend time with my wife, take my dog for walks, and practice fly fishing.

What is your favorite part of being a chef? Biggest challenge?

All of it! I look at challenges as opportunities.

What are your favorite things to do around Gateway?

I love to kayak the Dolores River, go to the shooting range, and take my dog for walks.

What would be your alternative career choice?

I cannot imagine doing anything else, but if I had to choose, I could see myself possibly becoming a food and beverage director or general manager someday.

Chef Thomas Hartwell's BBQ Brisket with Baked Beans and Cheddar Corn Bread

Chef Hartwell’s BBQ Brisket with Baked Beans and Cheddar Corn Bread

Part 1: Cheddar Corn Bread

12 oz.cornmeal

12 oz.all-purpose flour

3 oz.granulated sugar

1 Tbsp.baking powder

1 tsp.baking soda

1 tsp.salt

24 oz. buttermilk

6 eggs

8 oz.oil

6 oz.corn kernels

6 oz.cheddar cheese (grated)

4 oz.seeded, diced jalapeños

  1. Sift together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Stir together buttermilk, eggs, and oil, then add to the flour mixture.
  3. Fold in the jalapeños and corn kernels, then transfer batter to pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees until center of the bread bounces back (approximately 20 to 25 minutes).

Part 2: Quick Southern-Style Baked Beans

8 slices bacon, halved

1 medium onion, cut into small pieces

1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small pieces

3 28-oz. cans pork and beans

3/4 c. barbecue sauce

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. distilled or cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and set heat to 325 degrees.
  2. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan until bacon is partially cooked and has released about ¼ cup of drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes). Add beans and remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  4. Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by-9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup (about two hours). Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

Part 3: BBQ Brisket

8- to 10-Ib. brisket, untrimmed

2 c. apple juice (in spray bottle)

4 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. ancho chili

1 Tbsp.  allspice, ground

1 Tbsp. celery seeds

1 Tbsp.  coriander seeds, ground

1 Tbsp.  garlic powder

1 Tbsp.  mustard seeds, ground

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp.  smoked Spanish paprika

1 Tbsp.  freshly ground black pepper

  1. Mix the spices together in a bowl. Liberally rub the entire brisket with the spices, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove the brisket from the refrigerator one hour before beginning the smoking process to take the chill off, and remove the plastic wrap.
  2. Get your smoker running at 225 degrees with hardwood charcoal and a few handfuls of soaked wood chips (we suggest pecan or peach wood chips). This temperature should be maintained throughout the entire smoke.
  3. Place the brisket, fat side up, on your smoker grate and close it up for the long smoke.
  4. Open your barbecue smoker every hour or two and spray the brisket liberally with apple juice to help keep the meat from drying out (also keep apple juice in the water pan if you are using a water smoker).
  5. When the internal temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees (after about four hours), wrap the brisket in aluminum foil and continue to cook for another three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half hours. This little trick helps make the meat more tender.
  6. Once the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees, the brisket is done. Take the meat out of the smoker and let rest 20 minutes before removing foil and slicing.
  7. Serve with the baked beans and cornbread.

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