April 10th, 2013
Gary Kucy, Chef at Rupert’s Restaurant at Hotel McCall, has been selected as a semifinalist in the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Chef: Northwest. The award is the nation’s most prestigious recognition honor for professionals in the food and beverage industry. Out of a pool of over 44,000 online nominations, Kucy and 19 others were chosen as examples of chefs who have set new consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions.
Gary Kucy, James Beard Semifinalist – Photo courtesy Hotel McCall
Kucy was pleasantly surprised to hear of the nomination, which is a first for him. As reported by The Hotel McCall, Kucy stated, “I have worked with and admired many of the past nominees and winners of James Beard Awards, but not once did I think I would be recognized by such a prestigious organization of food lovers.” David Carey, owner of Report’s Restaurant at Hotel McCall, says “The team at Rupert’s is so proud of Gary and this achievement. He is a hardworking and humble chef that cares passionately about the industry. We have always felt that Gary is something special and as good as any chef out there. We hope this attracts some well-deserved attention to his craft and to Idaho.”
According to the press release from The Hotel McCall, Gary’s culinary training includes a three-year formal apprenticeship at the Five Star, Five Diamond, Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. Kucy has also worked for eight years as a chef with Mark Miller at the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he assisted in opening restaurants, writing cookbooks and promoting cuisine worldwide, with cooking stints in Singapore, Mexico, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York and Seattle. He subsequently spent two years as the Sous Chef at the Snake River Grill, an upscale fine dining restaurant in the heart of Jackson, Wyoming.
CONGRATULATIONS, GARY! McCall is very proud of you and this blogger is happy to call you a friend.
February 2nd, 2013
Salmon River Brewery (SLB), a small brewpub not far from downtown McCall, had a big surprise in 2010 which recently changed the course of their fledgling business. A member of the iconic St. Louis beer family, famous for Budweiser, walked into their small operation a couple of years ago and is now a partner in the business. Original co-owners, the Ganz’s and Hurlbutt’s, are still pinching themselves thinking about their initial conversation with Adolphus Busch about SLB’s Udaho Gold ale.
In an article in the Idaho Statesman on January 23rd, Patrick Orr wrote that Busch learned of the SLB story while drinking a beer that really caught his attention – Udaho Gold. He decided to visit the brewery and just started talking with the two co-owner’s, both named Matt. Busch loves Idaho and has been visiting the area for years. A discussion continued over more beer and the Matt’s told Busch of their long-term plans. Busch, who now owns 49 percent of SLB, is not interested in the day-to-day operations, but is involved in the long-term vision.
Salmon River Brewery, McCall, Idaho
According to the Statesman article, currently, Salmon River Brewery has about 40 bar and restaurant accounts in the Boise area and 10 in McCall. They hope to expand to Ketchum and Twin Falls. Busch’s investment has allowed SLB to go from brewing about 1,000 kegs a year to about 3,500. Concentrating on selling beer in southwest and central Idaho, SLB’s co-owners know that Busch would like to see Udaho Gold offered in his home state of Missouri but that they will be content for the brewery to grow at whatever pace the market allows.
One area that the two Matt’s and Busch have discussed which could grow is that of contract brewing. This would allow SLB’s recipes to be brewed at other locations and would be an option for the business when they have completely maxed out their production. Currently, SLB has a small building with the bup on the side and the brewhouse on the other. Busch’s investment has allowed them to max out their expansion space with needed equipment for beer sales growth.
With McCall’s annual Winter Carnival now in full swing, Salmon River brewery has one other thing to be excited about. They won third place in the snow sculpture contest with their Unicorn Ice Bar. 2013 is shaping up to be a great year for this small McCall business!
SLB’s 2013 Snow Sculpture Entry – Unicorn Ice Bar
November 17th, 2012
A new book detailing the history of Brundage Mountain Resort was recently released as a part of their 50th anniversary celebration. “Brundage Mountain: The Best Snow in Idaho” was written by Eve Chandler who collected stories about skiing and boarding at the resort during the mountain’s fiftieth year celebration. The coffee table book also features hundreds of photographs which help tell the stories of Brundage Mountain.
New Brundage Mountain Resort book cover
McCall people had a passion for skiing and ski jumping back as far as the early 1900s. In 1959, a local businessman named Warren Brown and a Norwegian ski champion who lived in McCall named Corey Engen began discussing the need for a steeper and larger ski mountain for the local residents and surrounding region. Another local businessman named Jack Simplot was invited to join the venture of opening a new ski area after preliminary scouting trips with a local US Forest Ranger.
It took only two short years for the 3 founders to select an ideal location for a ski resort, develop a master plan, arrange financing, assemble the manpower to build a ski lodge, install a chairlift and clear two runs which were called North and South. Brundage Mountain Ski Resort opened to the public on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1961.
Many local skiers remember the triad ski lodge, red double chairlift and un-groomed runs of that first year of operation. They also remember skiers packing the slopes by side-stepping up the mountain. This humble beginning has lead to 50 years of skiers and boarders visiting Brundage for the light, deep powder and family-oriented atmosphere the developers created.
The resort is now owned by the DeBoer family, descendants of founding member Warren Brown. The DeBoer’s work diligently to preserve the family-friendly environment and have also expanded and improved the area in recent years.
Visit the Brundage Mountain Resort website to purchase a copy of this beautiful book as a gift for family and friends or just for yourself. Author Eve Chandler, an experienced history writer, Boise native and active skier captures the colorful history of this 50-year-old resort in this beautifully detailed book.
September 8th, 2012
An independent movie crew took over a number of buildings in McCall recently to shoot “an Unkindness of Ravens.” The dark comedy is a story of the unraveling of a family when a strange nature photographer makes an unexpected arrival over the 4th of July weekend.
The film has ties to McCall’s neighboring town, Donnelly. The screenplay was written by Russell Friedenberg, who is married to an award-winning film producer and daughter of Donnelly hat-maker, Randy Priest. The producer of the film is Teddy Grennan who is making his first live-action movie after working in animation.
A number of places around McCall were converted into movie locations including McCall Jewelry Company, Shanti Yoga Studio, FoggLifter Cafe and the Park Place Professional Center which was turned into the “McCall Jail.”
Sun Valley had originally been selected as the film location, but a scouting trip to McCall, with its natural setting, quickly lead to the change of venue. Grennan mentioned that McCall had been extremely gracious and that filming locations had been offered to the crew at no charge.
The film has a budget under $1 million and will be released next year by Grennan who hopes it will attract the attention of distributors for places such as the Sundance Film Festival.
June 9th, 2012
Payette Lake Cruises, a new concession on Payette Lake, is open and ready for McCall’s summer tourists. “The Idaho,” a 65′, 90-passenger, double-deck cruise boat arrived in McCall last month and officially began offering cruises to the public the first of June.
One of the prime draws to McCall is beautiful, pristine Payette Lake providing scenic and recreational opportunities to tourists and locals alike. Payette Lake Cruises will add to this venue by offering daily scenic public cruises, Sunday morning brunch cruises, sunset dinner cruises, 4th of July fireworks cruise and private charters. During the 90-minute daily cruise, guests will learn about the lake and area history, discover wildlife in a pristine environment, view stunning and secluded lake homes, and enjoy the warm summer weather.
The Sunday Brunch Cruise is sure to be a favorite this summer providing guests with the unique experience of dining in a natural environment. A full breakfast buffet will be offered prepared fresh by outstanding local caterers.
The owners of this new venture are partners Seth Jacobsen of McCall and Fred Finney of Coeur d’Alene. Seth knew that lake cruises were highly popular in the past and wondered why not now. The availability of high quality, affordable and accessible recreational activities for both residents and visitors in this tourism based economy has waned in recent decades. Seth, a 25 year resident of McCall, saw a prime opportunity and felt a sense of responsibility to provide a solution. Together with Fred Finney, he formed the perfect partnership.
Fred Finney, who now owns and operates Finney Boat Works, Inc. in Post Falls, Idaho, began his career in the cruise industry in 1967 at the age of 11. Fred has managed the company’s operations and built the company up to 6 boats with a capacity of more than 1200 passengers. Fred and Seth’s combined experience, knowledge and skills will ensure the public a highly memorable experience.
“The Idaho” vessel incorporates a versatile layout ideal for a wide variety of cruises and events. The main dining room will seat up to 40 passengers comfortably and the outside decks are capable of hosting up to 55 passengers. It’s compartmentalized steel hull design makes the vessel very stable and impact resistant. Combine this with a safety focused, qualified crew and up-to-date safety gear and you are sure to have peace of mind while cruising Payette Lake.
To contact Payette Lake Cruises for availability and pricing, click here.
May 10th, 2012
The McCall Music Society presented the McCall Chamber Orchestra and McCall Chorale on May 4th and 5th in its annual Spring Concert. Tickets were sold in advance for the 2-night program held at the McCall Community Congregational Church.
Directed by Dr. William Wharton, professor emeritus of music at the University of Idaho, the concert program included “Overture XXVI,” by George Friedric Handel; “PE Loc,” by Bela Bartok with soloist Dalene Bingaman playing Irish flute; and “Konzert,” by Joseph Haydn, featuring solo cellist Linda Wharton, who is the principal cellist with the Washington-Idaho Symphony and cellist with the Walla Walla Symphony.
The program also included “Ave Verum Corpus” for chorus and strings by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; “Mass No. 2 in G Major, D167,” by Franz Peter Schubert; and “Das Leiben Bringt Gros Freud,” a German folk song arranged by Gregg Smith.
Chorale rehearsals were conducted by Barbara Nokes Kwader of McCall, with piano accompaniment by Lavona Woodward of Cascade.
McCall Chorale with Director Tyler Vance
The Music society offers Second Sunday Sounds @6 at the McCall Community Congregational Church. Free to the public, the society encourages donations. The next program will be held May 13th and features Sean Rogers of Caldwell, Idaho on the organ and piano. Entitled “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” the program will include pieces by Vierne, Bach, Liszt, Gershwin and others.
May 3rd, 2012
McCall’s Payette Lake plays a role in the official start of spring for the community each year. A bright yellow barrel, placed on the ice during the winter by The Star News, nudged up onto the beach at Legacy Park at 6:45 p.m. on Monday, April 23rd, signaling the start of spring. The barrel hit the shore after winter’s ice melted earning $100 for the person guessing the date and time closest to the barrel’s landing.
This year’s annual event was a promotion for a teen center in McCall which took in $153.03 from donations enclosed with the ballots cast at various businesses around McCall.
According to The Star News, “The April 23 landing date is within the “prime time” of dates of the ice break-up on Payette Lake that have been recorded since 1909.” April 29th has seen the lake break nine times in the past 100 years, the most for any date.
The break-up dates for 2010 and 2011 were the same, May 9th, which is later than the 63 times breaking between April 21st and May 8th in the last century.
The latest the lake has broken was May 20, 1912 and the earliest break-up date was March 21, 1992. 1933-34 never saw Payette Lake freeze at all.
April 23rd, 2012
The Idaho First Bank conference room was packed wall-to-wall, Tuesday evening, April 17th, when Idaho Public Television brought a locally made movie for a free preview. “River of No Return,” made by Isaac and Bjornen Babcock, is a charming film about the couple’s year-long honeymoon in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness. Here they capture the beauty and wildlife with their cameras within the wilderness in the heart of our wonderful state of Idaho.
The project began as a romantic adventure and became something much greater for the couple. It is a tale of hope and celebration for every life trying to make it in the wilderness. In an interview with Idaho Public Television, the Babcock’s said “River of No Return” was something they wanted to do for a long time. Isaac had worked seasonally for about 14 years for the Nez Perce Tribe as a wildlife biologist on wolf recovery and as a freelance filmmaker. Bjornen, after having grown up in Delaware, had spent a summer working as a fire lookout in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness. Isaac had a simplistic view of the wilderness and, as he spent more time there, he began to realize how unique and special The Frank Church Wilderness was from any other wilderness he had been in.
According to the Idaho Public Televisionpress release, in June 2009, the Babcock’s, as newlyweds, began their adventure of a lifetime, living in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness of central Idaho. For the next 13 months, they videotaped their experience, documenting not only what it was like to trek through the largest roadless area in the lower 48 states, but also capturing stunning footage of the wildlife along the Middle fork of the Salmon River, including wolves, deer, elk, otters and migrating salmon. Ending their adventure after 13 months, they had enough footage to intrigue the producers of NATURE.
Working with NATURE allowed them to produce an exceptional account of their adventure. However, it took a lot of time and effort on the couple’s part to gain a commitment from PBS, having begun pitching the idea of a film as far back as 2006. According to the Idaho Public Television press release, the Babcock’s now they say they can’t imagine working with any other TV entity on a project as personal as this one.
It was pretty special for McCall residents to see the movie prior to its first showing on Idaho Public Television. Isaac and Bjornen, who live in a yurt just 7 miles outside of McCall, were present to witness the filled-to-capacity showing and mentioned that they were completely overwhelmed by the attendance. They were gracious enough to answer many questions from the audience after the film.
Watch the full episode here.
December 29th, 2011
Wednesday night, December 28th, 2011 Brundage Mountain Resort hosted their very successful and well-attended 50th Anniversary celebration on the Mountain. Their “Light Up The Night Party” included live music, a slopeside fireworks show and a sacrificial bonfire!
Live music began in newly expanded Smoky’s Bar & Grill at 4:30 with The Sloppy Hogg Trio playing prior to the 5:30 free Fireworks show. Smoky’s Bar & Grill served pulled pork sandwiches, house-made soup and chili along with burgers and brats on the grill outside.
Each food or drink purchase made in Smoky’s earned the purchaser a ticket for fun give-away drawings. The items given away included hats, shirts, caps and other fun stuff Brundage-related things.
A sit-down dinner was hosted on the third floor of the lodge which featured a lasagna feast put together by by the new chef! Dinner included Smokey’s signature salad with their house-made balsamic vinaigrette, garlic bread and choise of either meat or vegetarian lasagna. They were both amazing!! Jeff Crosby was the featured musician for the dinner which was sold out in advance.
The lack of snowfall had Brundage ready to take drastic measures. They hosted a Pray for Snow Bonfire in the parking lot, along with a beer garden, starting at 5:00 pm. The public was invited to bring their own contribution to the fiery pyre which included a number of stripped Christmas trees.
Brundage’s 50th anniversary celebration was topped off by the announcement that the mountain will open for skiing on Friday, December 29th! This is the second latest opening in 50 years and McCall residents and our visitors are ready to start skiing! Congratulations Brundage!!
December 5th, 2011
Brundage Mountain Resort is selling snow!! Purchase a Brundage Gift Card and give the gift of snow which can be used to purchase any ticket, product or service at any on-mountain point of sale. Available in a number of denominations, the Gift Card would make a nice surprise for any person on your shopping list.
Also available for a short time are Brundage Mountain Resort’s Select Cards. For as little as $34 per day, the Select Card is good for 3, 4 or 5 days of skiing during the 2011/2012 season. Select Cards can be redeemed for one ticket per day – no black out dates and bonus weekends are incuded. The cards are also transferable. You’ll have to hurry to take advantage of this amazing offer as they are only availble until December 15th.
Brundage has some great deals! Check out their website and get ready to ski!