Chris Crowl got his first job washing dishes at fifteen, and hasn’t strayed from restaurant work in the thirty years that have followed. Now, he is chef and co-owner of Eolus Bar and Dining in Durango with James Allred. Summer is folding into fall, and Crowl is busy transitioning his menu and making deals with local farmers: He’ll need 1,200 pounds of winter squash, plus ample turnips, potatoes, and beets delivered in weekly increments. He sweats the small stuff so you might find a reason to come back again and again. Winter dishes include locally-grown daikon and peavine sprouts, which add a “bright and vibrant bite” in the dead of winter. Crowl admits that a little dose of crazy (along with deep passion) may be necessary to sustain restaurant work for thirty years. But his dream is to support the community by doing his job well every day. And if it ever falls apart, he might like to be a snowboard heli guide.

With apple season upon us, how do you recommend cooking with apples? 

When we start to enjoy apples from my neighbors’ trees here in Hermosa, I always like to cook some as part of a great fall dinner. I like to sear some pork chops or a pork loin or belly, and then add sliced onions, Dijon mustard, lots of apples, and some local cider or beer. Let that cook down and let the flavors come together for a great savory dish with the flavorful apples being the star.

What fats do you cook with, under what circumstances, and why?

I mostly cook with coconut oil or non-GMO canola oil. Both have a good high smoke point so that you can use them in your pan when sautéing at high heat. I love a great extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), but I will use that to finish my dish, add flavor, or in vinaigrettes and marinades. Also having a good jar of bacon fat in the fridge at all times is essential. One of my favorite things to do is bacon fat popcorn. Use the fat to pop the corn using a stovetop popper or in a pan for a fantastic way to enjoy popcorn!

For someone who just got a “salmon share” from Silver Wave Seafood Co., how do you prepare the tender flesh of fish?

Slice the filet into your desired size pieces. A quick marinade with fresh lemon juice or any citrus with a little EVOO for flavor with salt and pepper for 5—30 minutes will be a great addition to the already delicious salmon. Grilling the salmon on high heat or searing in a hot pan for 3-5 minutes per side will yield a lovely treat from the Alaskan waters at your Southwestern home! The salmon will be most enjoyable when cooked medium rare or medium. Overcooking the fish will dry it out and make it less enjoyable. A fresh squeeze of lemon on the fish on the plate is always nice to add some acid and balance.

This is a new feature at Edible Southwest Colorado. We find the chef, you ask the questions. What have you always wanted to know about storing, preparing, combining, cooking, spicing, and consuming food? Send your questions to sanjuandrive@frontier.net.