Friday, August 5, 2011

Mix it in or top it off

Vintage restaurant owner and chef Jeff Keys is ‘Well Dressed’

Express Staff Writer

Jeff Keys, owner and chef of Vintage Restaurant in Ketchum, is not only a self-taught chef whose first dream was to be a ski bum, he is also the proud author of a new cookbook, "Well Dressed Salad Dressings."

"Well Dressed" is a picnic and dinner party throwers must-have because it has every dressing needed to complete any meal or side dish. Recipes include simple fiery vinaigrettes, international classics, slaw and creamy dressings and mix-in dressings. And it includes classics such as a recipe for French Dijon mustard dressing.

"That is the first French vinaigrette I had, and I can still taste it," he said.

A valley resident for more than 26 years, Keys started cooking in Aspen, Colo. in 1968. He moved to Crested Butte, Colo. in 1976 and landed in Ketchum on a family visit in 1980. Although he owned several restaurants in his past, Keys has perfected his culinary expertise in Ketchum.

As soon as one enters Vintage, the aromas coming from the kitchen take one on a journey to faraway lands, especially France. Keys said his first chef he worked under was French and that flavor has stuck around.

"I am working a chef seven days a week," he said. "I like stuff from all over the world. I enjoy Asian food as much as food from every country in Europe, including food from the Middle East. I like food."

Keys said "Well Dressed" has been well received. It has sold well in a special category for cookbooks on Amazon, which rated "Well Dressed" in a top 100 category for its kind.

"We have sold a lot here in the valley," he said. "'Well Dressed' is a reflection of what I do."

The cookbook came out in the spring 2011 and Keys had since calls from Martha Stewart Living network on Sirius satellite and from the Boston Globe for an Internet piece.

"An editor called me about doing this cookbook," he said. "You just can't pass up opportunities like that."

"Well Dressed" is Keys second cookbook, the first being "Vintage Restaurant," which includes the Keys history and his sense of being a "unique, untamed little restaurant here in Ketchum."

"I could not live any other way," he said. "I'm always in marathon shape for what I do."

If looking for unique ways to spruce up a salad, give vegetables a lift or invoke savory tastes from around the world, "Well Dressed" has got you covered.

"Well Dressed" is available at Vintage Restaurant in Ketchum, Chapter One Bookstore, Iconoclast Books and Ketchum Kitchens in Ketchum. It is also available at www. HYPERLINK ""

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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