Q&A with Kevin Erving, Executive Chef at The Sebastian – Vail

The culinary team at The Sebastian – Vail is thrilled to welcome a local seasoned chef to head the food and beverage program at the resort. Kevin Erving of Eagle Vail Colorado will take over as Executive Chef of the resorts signature restaurant, Leonora as well as the guest and local favorite Leonora Bar in mid-February.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Kevin began his culinary career with Four Seasons Resorts over 30 years ago as a 19-year-old cook shucking oysters and making salads.  Chef Kevin’s career with The Four Seasons propelled him to progress his skills in premier locations such as The Ritz Carlton Chicago, The Four Seasons Vancouver, The Four Seasons Manele Bay and The Lodge at Koele on the tiny island of Lana’i, Hawaii.

Kevin and his family moved to the valley in 2014 to join The Four Seasons Vail in the coveted position of Executive Chef. In short order Kevin grew accolades in the successful enhancement of the resorts renowned restaurant Flame and ultimately conceptualizing and launching the Remedy Bar, an innovative dining experience in the promenade of the hotel.
Chef Kevin joins us from Beaver Creek’s luxurious Beano’s Cabin after 5 years as Executive Chef with impressive accolades including the complete transformation of Allie’s Cabins menu to a Northern Italian style.
Chef Kevin is passionate about food, quality, and the use of seasonal ingredients. “My philosophy on food is simple; treat each ingredient with the respect it deserves and don’t over complicate it.”
Bryan Austin, The Sebastian – Vail’s General Manager expressed his excitement with the addition of Kevin Erving stating “The resort is thrilled to welcome Kevin. Erving brings a level of talent and expertise that will elevate the creativity of the menu, growth of our internal team and overall culinary experience for guests and locals alike.”

Learn more about Kevin in this questionaire:

What is your name, where do you cook and what is your official title?
Kevin Erving, Executive Chef at The Sebastian; Leonora & Leonora Bar.

How long have you lived in the valley and what brought you here?
This will be my 8 winter season in the Valley. I relocated with Four Seasons Hotels from Hawaii in 2014. Leaving Hawaii wasn’t easy, but as a kid, I always dreamed of being an executive chef at a mountain ski resort.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
I was seven years old and went to work with my mother one day who was a restaurant manager.  I got to stand on a stool and help the chef stir in the roux to a 40 gallon batch of clam chowder with a whisk that was taller than I was!  I was hooked and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a chef!

Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
As a kid I grew up watching the Frugal Gourmet and the original Iron Chef, but my favorite show was Rick Bayless Mexico One Plate at a Time.  As an adult, I have had many great coworkers, collegues and mentor chefs in my career for which I am grateful. I’ve lived in many places and have had some incredible food experiences along the way.

What’s your favorite spice?
Dried Chiles, Ancho, Guajillo, Chipotle.  Fresh Lemon, Thyme, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro? It really depends on the dish, but I definitely don’t shy away from flavor.

Favorite protein? 
Currently I would have to say Pork Belly, but as a chef you have many favorites, and for me its more about treating each ingredient with the respect it deserves.  That can make them all favorites!

Favorite fruits and veggies?
I’m not sure I could pick just one or five.
I get really excited by the change in seasons and the ingredients that are at the peak of each season.  I love winter and hearty braised dishes with parsnips, celery root and roasted beets. Then spring comes along with baby carrots, strawberries, mint and rhubarb.  Summer is also be a favorite with corn, Heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and anything on the grill.  Then fall brings it full circle with apples, mushrooms, squash, and pickling the best of summer.  Then its time to do it all over again.

Name your carb: pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, etc.? 
Tough one.
I really like polenta/grits and the multitude of flavors that can be infused into them to compliment a dish.  But then I can always be persuaded by freshly made Lyonnasie potatoes loaded with butter, onions and thyme!

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Tacos, Tacos, Tacos!  You can put anything in a corn tortllia with a little salsa and it can be amazing!
Also, after a trip to Italy a few years back, pizza cooked in a true wood- fired oven could make it a close tie.  That trip inspired my quest for a great pizza. One day, I made 13 different pizza dough recipes until I found the perfect one!

Is there anything else about you we should share?  
I am passionate about food and building a team of like-minded people who can offer our guests an incredible culinary experience. As with every local business recently, we are adapting, retooling, and reinventing what it means to offer a quality experience.  I’m looking forward to bringing The Sebastian back into the conversation of places to eat in Vail.