Word About Town

Q & A with Deer Valley's Culinary Queen Jodie Rogers

Chef Rogers dishes on work, mentoring (and raising) kids, experiencing The James Beard House, sustainable practices, and more.

By Virginia Rainey December 11, 2019 Published in the Winter/Spring 2020 issue of Park City Magazine

Jodie Rogers

As Deer Valley Resort’s director of food and beverage, Jodie Rogers oversees more than 700 employees and 14 award-winning restaurants during the winter season. She has three active kids, and her musician husband works nights. She serves as co-president of the Park City Area Restaurant Association—on top of other volunteer pursuits. Far from being a walking bundle of stress, Rogers handles it all with aplomb. A native Australian, she has cooking in her blood, and she’s been doing it professionally for more than two decades. After joining Deer Valley in 1997, she worked her way up through the ranks. Now, at the top of her game, she happily admits to thriving on the unexpected. 

Park City Magazine: How do you juggle it all?

Jodie Rogers: It’s about understanding and support, all around. Over the years, our family has created an environment that we all know how to navigate and survive. Our kids sometimes spend as much time at Deer Valley as I do; they grew up here, so they really don’t know any different. The other part of the equation is the Deer Valley team. The expectation is that you do your job well, but family is always first.

PCM: In 2018 you were the first female mentor chef to participate in Utah’s Emmy Award–
winning show, TeenChef Pro, as a mentor for 12 teens. Why is mentoring young cooks important?

JR: The art of cooking is dissipating, so I think we really have to nurture it and bring it back. I learned from my mom and grandma, but that’s not often the case in today’s society. If someone has the passion to cook, it’s important to grab onto it and show them how creative and important it can be. We need cooks!

PCM: What do you value most in an employee?

JR: Honesty and passion for the work, followed closely by respect for everyone around you. 

PCM: Any stories about your early infatuation with food?

JR: Cooking must have been in my blood. Once, when I was very small and my grandma was making a wedding cake—something she did professionally—I was intrigued enough to climb up on a chair and put my finger in the side of the cake. It was fondant, so my finger made quite an impression! I remember hiding when she found out, and I got chased around the house—but I didn’t get in too much trouble. After that, she made me little fondant animals, and I got to play with those and eat them. My mom and her mom were great cooks, and my auntie was a high school food science teacher, so cooking was in my family.

PCM: How did you get your own kids started in the kitchen?

JR: When they were babies, I put them in their bouncers on the counter while I cooked. When they turned three, I gave them each a set of knives. Dull, little knives, mind you—with animals on the handles—so they could at least cut a watermelon. Now, the two older kids cook and they have real chef’s knives. My son Graham makes the best tacos ever. Remy loves to bake, and Claire, who’s just two, will pick up the egg beaters and pretend. Cooking always helps bring us together, to sit down and have a conversation with good food.

PCM: The James Beard House in New York is a showcase for chefs all over the country, and you and some of your team just completed your second visit, cooking for hundreds of guests. What have you taken away from those experiences?

JR: I think we all learned a lot about being prepared in a location away from home—and that you can get absolutely any ingredient delivered to the kitchen door at the JB House.

PCM: You’ve also participated in the JB House Leadership Summit. What’s that all about? 

JR: They’re teaching chefs how to get their voices heard when it comes to food issues that affect us all. We learned a lot about the Farm Bill, for instance. It’s so huge, you can only tackle parts of it, so right now I’m focusing on seafood sustainability.

PCM: What’s Deer Valley doing about recycling and food waste?

JR: We’ve been recycling glass and paper for years, and for a while we provided farmers with compost for their pigs and goats, but we’ve now settled on composting everything—including oyster and crab shells. It all goes to Wild Harvest Farms. In March they hauled away 58 tons to grind and recycle and use as compost to grow microgreens and mushrooms. Win-win! 

Bits and Bites

Wine: My go-to is a grapefruity sauvignon blanc from Marlborough. In winter, I also love a great sparkly Lambrusco.

Ski run: Success. You can take it nice and easy or fast and furious for a challenge. Also Little Stick because it brings back good memories of skiing with the kids.

Perfect day off: Solo ski run, gym, massage, facial. Then, someone else cooks dinner (or we go out for Thai food), and the day ends with a rose-petal bath.

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