Longtime chef puts idea in motion | SteamboatToday.com

Longtime chef puts idea in motion

Drunken Onion may open this month

Blythe Terrell

— Ben Stroock has spent years forming the concept for his Drunken Onion Get & Go Kitchen.

He designed his kitchen to serve his cooking purposes.

He designed his menu to include foods that have been a hit elsewhere.

He designed his business model to meet the needs of tourists and locals.

The business is approaching opening day – he’s aiming for mid-month – and Stroock is optimistic that he’s got a handle on his audience. He has learned a lot through working as a chef at Market on the Mountain and Steamboat Yacht Club. He also worked at the kitchen in Old Town Pub and co-owned The Main Dish for its nearly three-year run.

“I’ve been a chef in Steamboat for 15 years, and I’m looking forward to staying in the valley and doing something a little different outside the normal envelope of restaurants,” Stroock said.

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The Drunken Onion’s initial hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will serve quick lunches, such as soups and sandwiches, and the restaurant will include a small seating area for that crowd.

The focus, however, will be on takeout dinners. Customers will buy chilled or frozen entrees and side dishes to reheat.

“I know what I think of as attractive food items that would fall into this category,” said Stroock, who worked in that milieu at Market on the Mountain. “I know what food would work, that this could be cooked, cooled and reheated.”

The Drunken Onion is in Wildhorse Marketplace, off U.S. Highway 40 between the mountain and downtown. Stroock thinks the location will help him grab customers from both ends of town.

Most of the items served will be chilled. Stroock said his menu would include some favorites from The Main Dish, such as meatloaf with mashed potatoes, pork chops and applesauce and apple-habañero chicken wings.

“All the things people still remember and stop me on the street to ask about,” he said. He also will offer daily specials.

Stroock plans to sell individual and family-size portions. Lunch typically will cost less than $10, and dinner will be about $8 to $12 a person, he said.

The Drunken Onion will do some catering but won’t be involved with serving or delivering food, Stroock said. He eventually might start delivery, probably on the mountain, of chilled items for customers to reheat.

“I think the concept will be appreciated by locals and tourists alike,” he said. “Locals need a night off, and tourists have condos with kitchens but don’t necessarily want to buy every single ingredient to cook a meal.”

Stroock has been working on the idea for four years in his head, he said. He attended culinary school in San Francisco and moved to Steamboat in 1993. He is married and has two children, 1-year-old Koen and 4-year-old Ella.

Stroock said he expects to be “ridiculously busy” at first but hopes to have time for his family. The skiing and mountain biking enthusiast is excited about the future.

“I look forward to sending my kids to college and growing old in this town,” Stroock said. “I think Steamboat is a fantastic place, and I’m lucky to make my way here doing what I want, which is food.”

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

On the ‘Net

More information and a menu is available at drunkenonion.com