Defining what makes a successful restaurant or chef, however, is not easy. Chef Ryan Lowe, restaurant general manager at the Ore House Restaurant in Durango, said possible qualities include: a fascination with cooking, determination, a quality consciousness, a love of working with people, a good sense of communication, and of course, a love of eating. Read more.
A year or so later, looking for a writer to tell the restaurant’s stories, Ryan contacted me. In addition to writing a total of 13 articles, two biographies and one press release, I developed a social media strategy and created Facebook posts.
“Elizabeth’s posts and blogs are incredibly thoughtful and well-executed. She takes great care of us and the Ore House’s stories.” – Ryan Lowe, Co-owner of the Ore House Restaurant
The Whiskey Girl – September 21, 2013
The attention to detail regarding drink and food pairings extends to the drink ingredients, which are local and all natural. “I can make a drink with five ingredients, with three of them being from local sources,” said Tesmer. “I don’t know any other restaurant that does that.” Read more.
The Benevolent Spirit – October 2, 2013
Prep cooks have complained that things fall off of shelves or that they’ve spotted shadows out of the corner of their eyes. Since the kitchen is full of stainless steel, the constant reflections may account for some of the mysterious shadows. Otherwise, it is difficult to theorize what exactly, if anything otherworldly, graces the Ore House. Read more.
The Bottom Line: The Cost of Local, Organic and Sustainable Food (Three-Part Series)
1. Producing – January 29, 2014
Sunnyside is one of many of the local ranches, farms and businesses that the Ore House works with in order to produce local, sustainable and organic food and drinks. Yet there is complexity and cost in offering such a menu. “The price of local beef and local pork is high,” admitted Chamberlain. “And it is higher than what a consumer might see at the store. But instead of asking why local food is so expensive, start to ask why the other food is so cheap.” Read more.
2. Processing – February 21, 2014
With the low volume of beef processed weekly, Sunnyside can produce healthy and tender product that is also USDA-approved, GMO-free, antibiotic-free, and all natural, with no added hormones. Yet all of these benefits are not without their cost. A percentage of the expense from a local product at the Ore House or a similar restaurant comes from the processing. These costs do add up. However, small plants like Sunnyside and local restaurants like the Ore House are simply alternatives. Read more.
3. Preparing – February 26, 2014
For Ryan Lowe, the restaurant general manager and chef at the Ore House, offering as much local product as possible was the logical decision. The restaurant had fallen away from working with local farmers after the ease of large-truck distribution arrived in Durango. Lowe started the push back to local produce and meat when he became the head chef seven years ago. “I grew up with that being a predominant thing in my life. My mom grew vegetables and made food from scratch. That was important to me, so that was forefront in my mind,” said Lowe. “We started working with local farmers again.” Read more.
Cooking Matters: Simple, Effective and Healthy Cooking on a Budget – March 13, 2014
A core part of Jolley’s work is Cooking Matters’ education courses. She finds culinary professionals in town who can help the program. “I scout out who is passionate about not just cooking, but community,” said Jolley. “I find people who want to take their talents beyond their own kitchen.”
Jolley then trains the chefs to teach their skills to a diverse audience. “I slow them down enough to making it simple and delicious,” said Jolley. “We try to make cooking fun.” Read more.
The Definition of a Master Craftsman – April 9, 2014
That weekend, Lowe noticed Scarbro’s attention to detail. “He works incredibly clean and always stays organized. These traits that were built into him from a background in construction have set a firm foundation for him that I believe have helped him to become a great chef over the past four years,” said Lowe. “I am so proud that I can say that I played a small role in influencing him to put down his framing hammer and pick up a chef’s knife.” Read more.
Durango’s Premier Steakhouse Announces New Partnership – June 4, 2014
When Lowe was promoted to the general manager position four years ago, he brought a vision of where the Ore House could be. Lowe convinced Abshagen and Arias to remove the salad bar and remodel the kitchen. He also continued to develop the atmosphere and culture of the restaurant, as he focused on local, organic and sustainable food and drinks. Lowe’s passion revolved around the restaurant, its food, and, most importantly, the community. “I believe not only in the staff and the management team of the restaurant, but I strongly believe in Durango. I want to continue our mission to support local ranchers and farmers and other small businesses in Durango. Before it was cool to buy local food, we bought local food,” said Lowe. “The warmth and charm this restaurant brings to the Durango restaurant scene is, I think, unmatched.” Read more.
A Love for People, Food and the River – July 7, 2014
With a job that starts in the evenings, Murrah paddle boards or hikes as much as possible before heading to the restaurant to ensure that everyone, from the staff to the customers, has a great experience. Her new responsibilities include hiring, scheduling, and the various bits and pieces of helping the restaurant run smoothly. “The experience starts with the staff,” said Murrah. “The team is important here. We’re not hiring for positions or hours, we’re hiring people.” Read more.
Learning Every Little Thing about Everything – May 7, 2015
Being behind the bar and managing the bar staff are only part of Ryan’s responsibilities. He also creates new cocktails using local, fresh and sustainable ingredients, designs educational seminars for his staff, maintains inventory, and helps with whatever else is needed for the restaurant. “I get to use some of my background from school and apply it, but it’s still customer service and I still get to talk to people,” said Ryan. “It’s such a small place that you can’t just have one title. You’ve got to do more.” Read more.