Bryan Moscatello is the Executive Chef at The Little Nell Hotel (a favorite haunt of ours) and knows Aspen like the back of his hand. Here’s what he has to say about this stunning mountain town.
How long have you lived in Aspen?
Aspen is where I truly feel at home. Years ago, I worked my way up in The Little Nell’s kitchen for 12 years and when I was ready, decided to move away in search of a new challenge. I have recently returned to Aspen to take the helm at element 47 at The Little Nell, and to continue this great legacy of food and wine in Aspen.
Why did you decide to become a Chef?
Honestly, I grew up in an Italian family in New Jersey so as you could guess, food was always of the utmost importance. I spent my childhood on a step stool helping my mother and grandmother to prepare Sunday dinner so when it came time to enter the workforce, there was no other option for me, it was the restaurant business. The rest, as they say, is history.
Where does food fit into Aspen’s cultural scene?
Food is a large part of every culture around the world, and that is no different in Aspen. Dining is still very much a social activity where people gather to share stories, but we also have a practical side to consider. In this mountain environment, where the active lifestyle is in the forefront, it is a necessity to have enough energy to experience everything Aspen has to offer. When visitors and locals alike are ready for that sustenance, they don’t want food that will simply sate their appetites, they want something that also offers a true sense of place, they want to feel like they are in the Rocky Mountains. That is why we provide distinctive, alpine cuisine at element 47.
What would a traditional Aspen meal look like?
A traditional Aspen meal consists of local game meats such as venison, rabbit, trout and game birds, paired with fresh garden vegetables and greens during the summer months, and local root crops during the winter months. Preparation can be done very simply over a wood fire and we recommend our fare to be enjoyed with family and friends.
What was your favorite food to eat growing up?
Sunday Gravy, all the way. This is a compilation of hot Italian sausage, three meat meatballs and braised pork neck in a San Marzano tomato sauce with rigatoni pasta and fresh ricotta cheese.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I don’t have any specific favorite because I’m happiest doing something different all of the time; I like to create.
Does living in Aspen influence your cooking at all?
Of course, we source the majority of our products locally. Our environment, the surrounding elements and the seasons really dictate where I go with the seasonal menu.
What is your favorite time of year in Aspen and why?
I really enjoy Autumn here in Aspen. The brilliant gold of the Aspen leaves, the weather as it begins to get brisk and the smell of winter in the air. You feel in your bones that it’s about to snow, but it’s still warm enough to get in some good single track riding or a fantastic trail run.
In your opinion what do you think makes Aspen such a special place to live and work?
It’s a utopia! We have serious culture and great career options, all within a year-round playground we call the mountains; its the best of all worlds.