Nomadic Table adds great dining experiences to outdoor adventures
When Justylyn Alair arrived in Steamboat Springs in December 2020 to take a position with Sauvage Restaurant, she brought with her a passion for fine food and a wealth of culinary experience.
Nowadays, the personal chef is hoping to leave her mark on the community she has come to love with her new endeavor, Nomadic Table, featuring taste profiles born from her family’s Filipino background. She also relies heavily on lessons learned when she was part of the Greenbrier Culinary Apprenticeship Program and from positions she has held in the past.
“Nomadic Table is live-fire cooking, and essentially, it’s collaborating with outfitters to add to their guests’ experience,” Alair said. “Everybody had a great time going out horseback riding, fly fishing, bike riding or whatever that experience may be, and I want to continue that experience with an amazing meal.”
For Nomadic Table, Alair will bring an Argentinian-style grill to a given location, along with the tables and other items needed to enjoy a meal. She said the Asador grill allows her to explore different taste profiles based on the type of wood and techniques she uses.
Alair has been offering her services to private groups for the past year, but in August 2022 after having a conversation with Corey Piscopo of Ride Workshop, she decided to venture into offering her skills to outfitters looking to add to their guest experience.
She said she learned to cook with live fire at Greenbrier, where apprentices were often asked to prepare meals at off-property lodges and serve guests without the comforts of a modern commercial kitchen.
“There was one property where we didn’t even have an oven, so all we had was a grill,” Alair said. “So, I had to basically cook for these people … they would be outside enjoying the wilderness, enjoying the beauty of the Appalachians. I got very good at doing off-property cooking where I didn’t have a lot of resources. I learned how to cook over fire just because I didn’t have gas, and that’s where I developed those types of techniques.”
Alair, who is an avid cyclist, feels like she can add to other activities visitors are coming to Steamboat Springs to enjoy.
“I think one of the things that’s great about this area is the fact that the experiences found here and what is found in the outdoors is very much unique to itself,” Alair said. “I wanted to carry over that concept of enjoying that experience with your friends and family to what I’m doing. My functions will be very intimate, so I chose to do more communal family-style eating versus plated, just because you can pass that plate around, enjoy your time with your friends and even sit on the floor Moroccan style if that’s the type of table you choose.”
Her goal is to provide a communal dining experience that allows the group to be surrounded by the beauty of the area.
Alair said her versatility comes from her grandmother and mother, who passed along their Spanish and Chinese influences from the Philippines, and from her experience growing up in the Tri-state region, where she got a firm grasp of Latin American cuisine and was introduced to fine dining at high-end clubs.
She also worked in Boca Raton, Florida, running a steakhouse and learned the art of making sushi. More recently, she worked at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, where he rediscovered homeland Asian.
During her journeys, Alair has rubbed elbows with top chefs, and she has used those opportunities to sharpen her own skills.
“When I was in Florida, I was all about the Caribbean and all about Haitian food because it had the French influence, and still it still it was very African,” Alair said. “When I was in New Jersey, I grew up with a lot of Latin Americans — you know, Columbians, Spanish and Puerto Rican — so I knew my sofritos, and then, basically being out in Vegas, I started dabbling full course in homeland Asia.”
Because of those experiences, Alair can offer clients a wide variety of options and work with them to come up with tastes she knows they will enjoy. In her time in Steamboat, Alair has already developed a following that she hopes to carry into her new business.
“(This week) she’s doing a four-course Italian dinner for us with a master sommelier and all Italian wine, and then the following week, she’s doing a sushi evening with us,” said Mike Lang, one of the owners of the Collective Wine Bar Steamboat. “She’s very versatile. Her skill is deep, and her food acumen, it is amazing. We’re blessed that she even wants to work with us, and we’re hoping that we’ve tapped into a resource that we can use in the future for our many different events.”
Alair has developed several menus utilizing locally sourced ingredients from places including Mountain Bluebird and Hayden Farm Fresh.
She said her menus are ethnically influenced with inspiration coming from different regions, and right now, clients can choose from menus including Old School Steakhouse, Classic Italian, A Touch of Persia, Into the Wild or Hand Rolled Sushi.
“The whole purpose of it is having that great intimate experience with your friends and family carried over with your meal,” Alair said. “I think it’s the smallest experiences that you’ll always remember.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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