When Hideout Chef, Sheena Ernst, isn’t in the lodge prepping her next delicious creation, you can often find her working in her garden down by the Trapper Creek property. Hideout salads and meals frequently feature the fruits of her labor; fresh herbs, salad leaves, radishes and eggs from the Hideout-owned hens have all graced salad plates this season. Sheena looks forward to adding her very own squash and tomatoes to the menu later on in the year.
Since coming to The Hideout in April, Sheena has made a commitment to employ as many local Wyoming ingredients as possible when planning her lunch and dinner menus. She explains, “I want to know where my food is coming from. With local meat, I know the farmer that raised the product, and am aware of what type of feed and supplements, if any, that have been given to the livestock.”
With freshly butchered, tender Wyoming beef and lamb often featured as the main course here at The Hideout, it’s hard to imagine a better way to eat meat. Guests have responded to local meat with enthusiasm, commenting on how nice it is to be aware of food’s origins and the enrichment it brings to their Western experience.
Local food has been a part of Sheena’s culinary experience since a young age. Growing up in Wyoming, Sheena would often fish in the Big Horns, hunt local elk, eat local beef and enjoy vegetables from her family’s garden. Even now, Sheena returns to her family home on the weekends, picking mint, rhubarb, asparagus, chives and Swiss chard to include in the Hideout menu for the following week.
Before coming to The Hideout, Sheena had the opportunity to work with local ingredients in other kitchens. During her time working abroad in England, she had the privilege of working with fresh seafood and used an abundance of local ingredients while working at Larkspur Restaurant in Vail, Colo.
While discussing the advantages and disadvantages of local ingredients, Sheena points out that, while it’s difficult to buy local food in bulk and still get wholesale pricing, it is priceless to know the source of your food. Wyoming meat and produce travel less distance to get to The Hideout, and the fresh taste and quality is well worth the extra cost.
Sheena adds that, while local food has the reputation of being more costly, there are ways to raise your own produce, even have egg-laying hens, for a fraction of the cost. “There’s something satisfying about going out in my back yard and picking five pounds of asparagus for free,” Sheena adds, “While local food can sometimes be perceived as more expensive, there are ways to grow quality food on your own.” Thanks to her garden and the hens at the Trapper Creek property, The Hideout has a small source of sustainable food coming from right down the road.
To those who still have yet to join us for one of our fantastic Hideout dinners, there is much to be enjoyed! From good company to good local food, the only thing that will leave you wanting to leave your seat each night is the promise of another meal the following day.