Tabouleh bouleh! Cooking With…Eureka Mediterranean Grill’s Craig Sutherland
Eureka Mediterranean Grill, sister restaurant to Carl’s Tavern next door, is led by executive chef Craig Sutherland of England. Its meals and ambiance are from “across the pond” as well.
Having worked as Carl’s sous chef for three years, Sutherland was asked to be the brains behind the flavors of this new endeavor into Mediterranean cuisine. Sutherland’s stature in the blossoming local eatery is even more impressive since he’s a self-made restauranteur.
“I did it the hard way: dish washing, kitchen prep and spending a fortune on cookbooks,” says Sutherland, adding that he spent his spare time shadowing a butcher to learn that skill set. “I picked up a lot from different people.”
Believe it or not, Sutherland began his taste bud-driven career at McDonalds at age 16. From there, he managed a pub in England before moving to New York in 2005 and pursuing his dream of becoming a chef. Not fully understanding the difference between New York City and Steamboat Springs, he packed up his car and headed to the Yampa Valley, where he’s been cooking for the past 10 years.
“I love it here. It’s a great town,” Sutherland says.
In fact, there’s only one thing that competes for his affection for Steamboat.
“I’ve always loved cooking,” he says. “It’s one of the happiest times for me, being in the kitchen and cooking by myself.”
Sutherland specializes in Mediterranean foods, and he jumped at the chance to head a restaurant focusing on that niche. “I like this style because of its cleaner, brighter flavors,” he says.
One of Eureka’s staple offerings is the Lebanese Tabouleh salad. “It gives a good idea of what we’re aiming for,” Sutherland says. “It’s really bright, especially with grilled meats.”
The dish — which comes with a brilliant zing of lemon citrus and crisp-tasting vegetables, spices and garlic — can sub bulgur wheat for quinoa to become gluten-free, and Eureka often serves it with pita and hummus. Its flavors are at their best after the mixture sits for 24 hours, absorbing each others’ best qualities.
Sutherland adds that a steady string of customers, new and repeat, is showing that Eureka is meeting a need with their Mediterranean cuisine. Info: 700 Yampa Ave., (970) 761-2061, http://www.eurekasteamboat.com
Eureka‘s Tabouleh Salad
10 fresh tomato (small diced)
I red onion (small diced)
2 cucumbers (peeled and deseeded, diced small)
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh minced garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 cups fresh lemon juice
4 cups fresh parsley (finely minced)
2 cups fresh mint (finely minced)
3 cups bulgur wheat, fine ground (substitute 2 cups quinoa for gluten-free)
Soak bulgur wheat in warm water for one hour to “puff” the wheat and make soft. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Let meld together, covered, in refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. To make up to 24 hours ahead, combine all ingredients and keep chilled except for bulgur wheat (or quinoa); stir in just before serving. Serve with hummus and pita. Makes 8 or more servings; recipe can easily be halved.
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The 20th anniversary season of Opera Steamboat will kick off this month with a new series, the “Variations Piano Series,” bringing world-class pianists from across the country to Steamboat Springs.