MIDWAY, Utah – Chef Chris Sheehan has worked his way through many notable Utah establishments, including Snowbird, Little America, and the Zermatt. After almost 20 years away, he is now back at The Blue Boar Inn as executive chef and general manager. The Blue Boar Inn is a multi-award-winning, European-style chateau in Midway.
After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Sheehan and his family moved to Arizona for a year with the Hyatt Regency before calling Utah home in 1990.
Before culinary school, his first cooking job was at McDonald’s, “back when we actually cooked food there instead of just heating it up in a microwave.” In later years, Sheehan and his brother opened a restaurant in Southern California and sold it in the following years. After the restaurant sold, Sheehan needed to figure out his next step.
“I went out to try to get a job as a chef or sous chef, and with all the experience I had under my belt at that point, which was probably ten plus years,” Sheehan said. “The only thing I could find was a line cook position because I didn’t have any formal training. That’s when I decided if I’m going to stay in this business, I need to become a chef.”
Once settled in Utah, Sheehan worked with many familiar names. At Snowbird, he was the chef de cuisine at The Aerie Restaurant for about six years, then the pastry chef for a year and a half. From there, he was with the Little America Hotel doing pastries for the hotel.
After working for others, Sheehan opened his own establishments with two coffee shops in office buildings called the Parkside Café and a wholesale bakery called Downtown Desserts. He ran these businesses for about six years before selling them.
Sheehan had his first stint with the Blue Boar in 2003 as executive chef. “[There are] people that I hired 18 years ago, and they’re still here. And there’s a reason for that; it’s because it’s a special place and it’s because of the owners… they’re just the most down-to-earth, easygoing people that you’d ever meet, and it’s a real special place for them.” Fun fact: owner John Warnock was a co-founder of Adobe, and wife Marva is a co-owner of the Blue Boar Inn.
Park Meadows and the Zermatt managed to bring Sheehan on after his first rendezvous with Blue Boar until he was called back as executive chef and general manager this year.
“[Before,] I was just the executive chef. Now that I’m on the other end of it, it’s very eye-opening for me… I am glad to be back. I’m excited to be back. I think I can make some really positive changes here. I’m going to try to elevate the cuisine and spirit of the place and get people pumped up again about the Blue Boar. It’s an institution down here in Midway, and it’s been here a long time. I really think it needs to be rediscovered.”
Sheehan said he is learning mainly from the staff on what’s been working and what could improve. Something that Sheehan looks forward to developing, however, is the events side of Blue Boar Inn.
“We’re a place to go have a fun weekend and have dinner, but there are so many other things to do down here in Midway. The Blue Boar can be right in the middle of it; it can be your base camp, so to speak. You can have a wedding weekend down here where you book the Inn for the weekend, and you’ve got all these activities going on. We have a beautiful patio that can see 200 people and is just an amazing place. And we’re right up against the golf course. I really want to want to get that idea out there.”
No matter the season, there is a long list of activities near the Blue Boar, from sleigh rides and snowmobiling to horseback riding and fly fishing, which the staff can help with recommendations and reservations for groups large and small.
The dining and atmosphere at Blue Boar exude mountainside coziness with items like Swedish meatballs, fondue, goulash, and schnitzel by candlelight and fireside. Chef Sheehan is working through the menus to elevate the dining experience further. This resort attracts weekenders and locals, but Sheehan wants to bring Blue Boar Inn top of mind for Utahns.
“The Blue Boar always had a reputation of high-quality food and ambiance. We have many devoted locals that come in all the time, but not enough, in my opinion. That’s why I want to reach out and make people aware of us in Park City and other nearby areas, that ‘hey, we’re still here, don’t forget about us.’ We’re still a great place to drive down for the evening [or stay for the weekend].”
This article was written for Dishing Park City by TownLift author Meredith Kluever.