Mar 172013

chef gary congratulations

You know you are about to embark on an amazing dining experience when you catch wind from the locals that the beloved Chef of Rupert’s Restaurant , Chef Gary Kucy — has been selected as a semi-finalist as “Best Chef:  Northwest” for the  2013 James Beard Foundation Awards.

I will not hesitate to tell you that upon hearing this news, I was not only thrilled to dine at Rupert’s and go straight to epicurean heaven, but I was very nervous as well.  I had previously asked the owner of Hotel McCall, David Carey if he would mind if I had a few minutes of Chef Gary’s time prior to our dinner reseravations.  I wanted to meet him so badly and get to know this person that everyone in McCall had spoke so highly of.

Chef Gary was busy in the kitchen prepping for the evening dinner menu and while he was finishing up, David Carey took some of his time to sit down and chat with us.

I immediately congratulated David on Chef Gary’s James Beard Foundation nomination and semi-finalist placement.

“We are completely thrilled Monica,”  David tells me as we settle down into our seats.

I then ask him how they found out about the big news.

“The phone started ringing off the hook and our email box was getting full.  People were congratulating Chef Gary and we had no idea how (or who) nominated him.  I mean, we even asked Gary’s mom if she nominated her son and her answer was no.”  we all laughed at that . . .

Then Chef Gary comes out to say hello and I can hardly wait to shake his hand :)

I ask him if he could please share with me a bit of his history and how he came to McCall.

“I was working in Jackson, Wyoming and it was wonderful!  But Stacey (his wife – Stacey Cakes!!) and I knew that we wanted to settle down somewhere else.  Somewhere where it felt right and that was McCall.  Stacey spent time here with family growing up and when she introduced me to McCall, I just knew this was the place for us.”

He tells me that at the time when they arrived in McCall, Tamarack Resort was just beginning to be and everyone was talking about it.   He eventually helped open up the restaurant “Morels,” (as well as designing the kitchen) located in the Lodge as Osprey Meadows right in the heart of the Tamarack Resort.  But before that– long before Morels — Gary was one of the first people to work at Tamarack 24/7 and witnessed the evolution of the resort.

Back then when Tamarack was in its infant stages, Gary tells me it was just him and a few other people.

“I was the kitchen Monica and Tamarack was in full marketing swing.  Food was the center of everything and it brought everyone together.  I would cook all day (from a kitchen trailer in the woods – it was all that there was in the beginning of Tamarack’s marketing – and the food was served in a cozy yurt to prospective buyers after a day of skiing the slopes and exploring the area) and it was fun to meet so many different people who were coming to the resort to check things out and explore opportunities.  One year I even had the honor to cook for President Bush.”

“Wow, really!?”

“Yes and his plane made it’s landing right on the Tamarack Golf Course.  It was pretty amazing.”

“How do you decide what to cook for the President?”

“I love to use local Idaho flavors! So that is always a hit when we have people from out of town.”

My conversation with Chef Gary was one that I will never soon forget.  Not only is he one of the most down to earth people I have ever met, I felt a true connection with  him through his inspiration of cooking.  I asked him how he came up with his ideas for his menus and I learned that Chef Gary has been fortunate to travel the world experiencing flavors from afar, and with that, he brings to Rupert’s his culinary magic for the lucky patrons to enjoy.

Including us.  Just have a look at what we had for dinner :)

I would love to take a quick moment here to thank David from the bottom of my heart for being so warm and welcoming to us and truly sharing his in depth knowledge of McCall and all that it has to offer not only to its fortunate residents, but for visitors like us.  As he spoke, it was quite evident the love that he has for this town and that feeling rubbed off on us immensely.  Our eyes were opened up by his stories of this sweet town and as I sit here in Bellevue, Washington writing this, I feel very emotional.  I miss McCall, immensely.

“You know Monica, one of the overriding factors that sits for me, over everything that happens in the valley, is how modest the population is here.  To me, it’s what makes it so wonderful here.   There are literally over two million acres of forest land waiting for people to come and explore.  Gary and I will go on a mountain bike ride and when you see another soul on the trail, you get excited and want to share how awesome the trails were!”

“And I come back with five pounds of Morel mushrooms,” Gary chimes in…

No joke here.

Kind of like your own private Idaho, I thought to myself.


Here is the inside of Rupert’s restaurant before it is open (and at night, wow, this place is busy as we learned!).  Rupert’s is located in the historic Hotel McCall, along the shore of Payette Lake.  You will have to take my word on this that the view of the lake is purely spectacular.  Luckily for us and many others, it was dumping outside when I took these pictures which meant for yet another epic skiing experience the next day (Cat Skiing at Brundage Mountain was on our list!).

{ Main entrance / lobby to Hotel McCall }

David also tells me: 

“Monica, everything is just right here in McCall.   You can ride your bike from downtown into the mountains in the summer and have the ride of your life.  In the winter, people head up to the mountains to ski on their lunch hour — it’s incredible!  Plus you have a town that is a “BIG” little town.  You’ve got your Rite Aid, you’ve got two great grocery stores, the schools are excellent.  All of our kids were born here.  You can walk to the hospital and everyone there knows you.”

“That’s right, our doctor who delivered our kids is also our neighbor,” mentions Chef Gary.

McCall has definitely won our hearts over.  That is for sure.

It was my very first visit to Idaho and I am so happy that we chose McCall.  From the sweet, kind and welcoming people to the many outdoor and culinary adventures one can find here.   We are smitten with this town of just over 2,000 people and can hardly wait to come back :) ♥♥♥

A huge thank you to Chef Gary for sharing with me (and you) his recipe for his Sake Steamed Clams.  They were so delicious!

Sake Steamed Clams with Ginger-Soy Butter

Thank you to Chef Gary Kucy of Rupert's restaurant in downtown McCall for sharing this recipe with us! This will serve two - double the recipe to serve 4, etc. You can find the rice paper sheets at your local asian market.


  • 1lb Fresh Manilla clams
  • 1 tablespoon Green Onions (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons Ginger (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
  • 3 tablespoons Butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup Sake
  • 3/4 cups Mixed Julienne Red Peppers and Carrots
  • 2 tablespoons Cilantro Leaves (picked)
  • 1 Rice Paper Sheet (crispy fried (1 each per person))


Step 1
Pre soak clams in cold water for at least one hour to clean, rinse well and set aside.
Step 2
To make butter; saute green onion, garlic and ginger in a small amount of oil until fragrant. Deglaze with soy sauce and cool. Cream soy ginger mixture into butter and set aside.
Step 3
Heat a large (6-8 qt) sauce pot over medium high heat, add clams and a small amount of oil. Allow clams and pot to heat, add sake and cover to steam.
Step 4
After being covered and cooking for approximately 4-5 minutes, check and see if clams are starting to open. Once they begin to open up, add vegetables and ginger-soy butter and cover for another minute. Remove cover and mix in fresh cilantro leaves just before serving. Garnish with crispy fried rice paper.

McCall Trip Roundup:

Part 1: Arriving ♥
Part 2: McCall Town Guide ♥
Part 3: Skiing Brundage Mountain and Apres-Ski at the Shore Lodge ♥
Part 4: A Snowmobile Adventure to the Burgdorf Hot Springs and Beyond ♥
Part 5: A Day at Tamarack Resort ♥
Part 6: Apres-Ski at Rupert’s in Historic Hotel McCall ♥
Part 7: A Culinary Adventure in the Forest ♥
Part 8:  Brundage Cat Skiing Adventures & Apres-Ski at the Pancake House ♥



  8 Responses to “{McCall, ID} Part 6: Apres-Ski at Rupert’s in Historic Hotel McCall ♥”

  1. Those venison meatballs are the best!!!!!

  2. It wasn’t that long ago that I spent some time in McCall and your stories covering it makes me feel like I am back there. Thank you for bringing back memories.

  3. Holy cow those clams look amazing and what a great recipe. Thank you to the chef for sharing!

  4. If you come back in the summertime you can’t pass up a good mountain bike ride like David and Gary have mentioned. One of the best places to ride imo.

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