Apr. 14—Chef Mark Maccherola has been exploring the local produce and meat of the Flathead Valley since taking over the kitchen at Logan's Bar and Grill.
He's been using those fresh ingredients in his kitchen, but also taking the time to meet the farmers growing the produce and talk with the butchers in their own shops. Maccherola has been the executive chef at Logan's Bar and Grill at Grouse Mountain Lodge for the past two years.
"I love using good local ingredients," he said. "I like getting food from local sources and talking to the farmers and actually getting to talk to the butcher."
He says it's a positive experience he's been able to enjoy after moving here from the desert of Arizona where that wasn't a possibility. Maccherola previously was the lead culinary instructor at the Arizona Culinary Institute where he was able to share his passion for food with students.
Though, he says, teaching at the culinary school and leading a kitchen aren't all that far apart. Both offer the opportunity to teach.
"I've worked in kitchens for so long that I'm always teaching," he said. "At the culinary school you're teaching from a book, but I'm always teaching on the line. I'm always teaching the fundamentals of flavor and presentation."
"I have a love for food and I like sharing that," he added. "Food is an art."
While Maccherola is teaching in the kitchen, he says he's also learning constantly.
"I've seen a lot of different things, and you take the good and keep it," he said. "I have a lot of gratitude for those chefs who have come before and for the cooks that are right beside me. I have the best crew."
The culinary arts was a career change for Maccherola who spent 13 years working for America West Airlines before making the switch by earning his degree at the Arizona Culinary Institute. He now has 22 years of experience in the kitchen.
"I knew I had a passion for food," he said. "I was great at what I did at the airline, but I just knew I wanted to work in a kitchen. It's been a great ride."
On his day off, Maccherola likes to get out on the open road on his bike and has participated in triathlons. He says this has been a bit of an adjustment in Montana where the weather doesn't allow for year-round riding.
He's also beginning to try his hand at growing his own produce recently planting seedlings in the greenhouse.
"I look forward to Sundays when I get to work in my yard and till the garden," he said. "We have a couple of acres where I can get out and I'm loving it."