FOURty seconds with Clyde Nelson

13 May 2016
2 min read
FOUR catches up with Clyde Nelson from The Home Ranch Relais & Châteaux property in Colorado

Describe your culinary style in a few words…

Less is more. Fresh, local and pure. Simplistic presentation, unpretentious.

What are a few of your most indispensable ingredients?

Local scrub oak that fires our grills and ovens at our kitchen, and also an abundance and wide variety of herbs and edible flowers from our gardens and greenhouses. One-hour-old eggs for breakfast from our chicken coop, our own farm raised beef and pork.

What kind of experience do you hope to give your guests dining at the Home Ranch?

Our guests’ experience is unique from almost any other restaurant. We have a captive audience for seven days. Our goal is to make each and every meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, a very fresh and perfectly prepared meal. At the end of their stay of twenty-one meals, we hope that the total dining experience is greater than the sum of its parts – making for the best eating experience of their life.

What is your earliest memory of being interested in food?

I grew up in rural Connecticut on a small two-acre farm. We raised chickens and rabbits, grew vegetables and beds of strawberries and raspberries and had a fruit tree orchard. My brother and I had the chore of picking all the fruit and selling it at our farm stand at the end of our driveway. That money we earned turned into ice cream, an indelible memory at an early age. About that time, 8 or 9 years old, I was given a Betty Crocker Cookbook and I remember making fudge a lot in our kitchen which was daily a buzz of bread making, soup making, and preserving from our gardens and orchards. At the time it seemed like a chore picking and harvesting in the summer months, but it must have had a profound effect that led me to a culinary career.

Do you try and recreate any flavours or dishes that you remember from your childhood on your cooking today?

I love bread making and still make a Swedish Rye that my father baked weekly. In summer, I’ll often make strawberry or peach shortcakes and cobblers from our farm and western Colorado mountain orchards just as we did in my childhood home. Summers as well we spent weeks at Cape Cod highlighted by freshly harvested corn and clam chowders and fried belly clams, which I still make as often as possible.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

This May 1st marks 25 years at the Home Ranch. The culmination of that time has become a kitchen that has continued to evolve and improve. I now proudly pass on the helm of the kitchen to others as I also assume the role of General Manager and Executive Chef at an iconic American Relais and Chateaux.

If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?

I would go to the town of Garzon, Uruguay, the home of Francis Mallman’s iconic restaurant, Francis Mallmann 1884. His style is so admired by me. Unpretentious, pure, elemental, fundamental, and delicious.