Renowned photographer and great friend of Paws Up, Dan Goldberg, captures the majesty of our 37,000 acres from Elevation Point.
Renowned photographer and great friend of Paws Up, Dan Goldberg, captures the majesty of our 37,000 acres from Elevation Point.
By Joshua Bousel
Holidays like Memorial Day are my time to shine—you can normally find me grill-side serving my favorites from the arsenal. So there was a very slight hesitation when considering to relinquish this annual tradition and accept an invitation from our friends at the Double R Ranch (who provided most of the meats for the event) to attend the first Montana Master Grillers event at The Resort at Paws Up, but being stuffed with grilled goodies from top chefs instead of sweating over a hot fire was too good to pass up.
Nestled in a valley surrounded by 360 degrees of mountains in Greenough, Montana—about 40 minutes east of Missoula—The Resort at Paws Up offered sprawling scenery and luxurious cabins, as well as an attentive, friendly staff who all created the communal environment that’s essential to any cook-out. Of course, you need great food as well, and that was delivered and then some.
The premise of the event—modeled after Paws Up’s already established Montana Master Chefs event—was to invite a set of chefs, winemakers, and brewers to the resort and build a weekend that alternates between massive meals and outdoor activities like horseback riding, rafting, and mountain biking to help rebuild that appetite.
There were five chefs cooking in this inaugural year: Tiffani Faison from Top Chef Season 1 and owner of Sweet Cheeks Q in Boston, Edward Lee from Top Chef season 9 and 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Frank Ostini from the Hitching Post II in Buellton, CA, Giuseppe Tentori from Boka and GT Fish & Oyster in Chicago, and Paws Up resident chef Adam Cooke.
They may not be the first names you associate with grilling, but save for one demo on how to break down an entire prime rib and a fun burger cook-off that teamed up guests with the chefs, the event was more about the meals rather than the grilling skills. As the weekend progressed, each lunch and dinner seemed to outdo the next, and that’s saying a lot because it started out strong.
The chefs all used the grill to add a little smokiness or great sear to complex dishes. Take, for example, chef Lee’s grilled lamb hearts, whose sear gave the thinly sliced hearts a nice crust against a tender texture, but it was the pairing of them with crunchy fried black-eyed peas, creamy ricotta, and a tangy grapefruit vinaigrette that formed contrasting textures and flavors.
Some other highlights included chef Faison’s grilled peaches with farro that was an unexpectedly addictive sweet and savory side, Chef Tentori’s masterfully seasoned and grilled Kobe strip loin, and Chef Ostini’s Santa Maria-style ribeye roast that had a juicy medium-rare interior and excellent crust that held a whisper of smoke.
For a lover of the outdoors and grilling, and a dude who desperately needed a break from his 9-to-5, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend last weekend. The experience allowed me to throw off the shackles of my conceptions of grilling and barbecue and relish in the creativity and quality of the food along with the relaxed atmosphere of the resort.
At Paws Up, the dude ranch tradition is alive and well – with the following caveat: this is not about ‘roughing it’. Paws up is about the dude ranch setting, coupled with the finest modern decadence. This is a place where you can gallop along time-worn trails, participate in a cattle drive, rappel off of Lewis & Clark’s favorite cliffs, perfect your hip shot, or go fly fishing along any of the 10 miles of the Blackfoot river that flow through the estate… and when you come home smiling and tired out from all your rip-roaring fun, gourmet cuisine, personalized service, and sumptuous spa treatments await you. So go ahead, get dirty, at the end of the day, the rain shower in your bathroom with its heated floor attached to your luxurious room will be happy to show you the way back to civilization.
By Jenny Miller
Take note of this name: The Resort at Paws Up. It could soon be well-known in culinary circles, if the team at this luxury ranch in Greenough, Montana gets its way. Montana? A gastro-tourist destination? It might just happen.
Last year they brought on chef Adam Cooke, a five-year veteran of highly acclaimed Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. Applying the same attention to locavore detail that he did heading up Blackberry’s fine dining restaurant, Cooke, a Montana native, wants to help “figure out where [the state's cooking] is going to be in the future,” he says. In other words: He wants to put Montana cuisine on the map.
Paws Up also hosts several food-focused events designed to draw culinary-minded attention. The resort hosted me for the Montana Master Grillers festival this past weekend, a four-day event during which Cooke turned over his kitchens to guest chefs Tiffani Faison (of Top Chef Season 1 and Sweet Cheeks Q in Boston) and Edward Lee (Top Chef Season 9 and 610 Magnolia in Louisville), along with Giuseppe Tentori of Chicago’s Boka and GT Fish & Oyster and Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post in Casmalia, California. (The resort will also bring back their annual Montana Masters Chefs event in the fall, featuring a number of Top Chef contestants.)
To participate in the weekend events, guests, chefs and press had to get to Greenough, Montana, situated serenely beneath some mountains, on a river. (If you’ve ever seen A River Runs Through It, you’ll have a sense of the soul-wrenching gorgeousness of the scenery.) Luckily, it’s just 30 minutes outside of Missoula, which has a small, charming airport with a cabin-in-woods vibe and non-ironic taxidermy.
The resort itself is a former working cattle ranch where black steers can still be seen grazing in some of the fields that make up the 37,000-acre property, and a number of the original buildings from that enterprise remain, made over into the “reception barn” or other facilities. Guests stay in separate houses complete with porches, hot tubs and barbecue grills — or go “glamping” in riverside camps fixed with luxury canvas tents, plus a chef and a butler for each tent cluster. One hundred percent rustic Paws Up is not, but activities like mountain biking, rafting and even driving cattle ensure everyone works up an appetite.
On Friday night, after an afternoon tasting of meaty bites from Double R Ranch Co. and beer from Chicago’s 3 Floyds, everyone staying for the weekend convened at upscale restaurant Pomp for dinner prepared by Cooke. The four-course meal started with a crowd-favorite duck prosciutto salad and also set the tone for a couple of running themes for the weekend: there was steak to eat and plenty to drink, courtesy Pinot Noir and Merlot pairings from Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines. After dinner everyone repaired to the bar for live bluegrass, more drinks and cigar-smoking by the campfire. Welcome to living it up in Montana.
Having skipped breakfast (I might’ve roused myself if the resort’s plans to cook it over a campfire and serve alfresco hadn’t been foiled by cold, rainy weather), I showed up at the equestrian center around noon the next day to see Faison break down some serious steaks and prepare a few sides. As those who’ve seen her on TV know, Faison is a small woman who’s not afraid of a big piece of meat. Along the way, she imparted meaty wisdom: salt the heck out of your meat when grilling; don’t mess with it too much and “let the grill do the work,” she advised. We ate Faison’s lunch seated at picnic tables smack in the middle of the horse corral, digging into grilled peach and farro salad, watermelon with yogurt and mint, cotija-rubbed corn on the cob, and sliced steak in flatbread. With Blue Mountain cider from Oregon to drink, the meal made for a jaunty picnic of sorts.
Following a rather chilly rafting outing (the weather was unseasonably cool all weekend), I was ready to eat again. That night was Tentori’s dinner, with a tasting of 3 Floyds beers. Out of the mind-boggling lineup of family style dishes, the crunchy fennel salad with Manchego, sweet shrimp-studded corn succotash and creamy lobster mac-and-cheese with firm edamame swapped in for peas made me reach for seconds. By the time the cheese course and excellent rhubarb-strawberry pie arrived, I was stuffed.
After dinner came “Cowbody Karaoke,” and let’s just say neither Faison nor Lee is a shy performer. Memorably, during “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Faison wound up tackled on the floor beneath a certain Paws Up staffer I won’t name. I decided to hold off on Tweeting the photo, along with the one where Lee swept a calfskin rug up from the floor and straddled it, pretending to go for a ride. Party!
Possibly my favorite meal happened at Sunday lunch, following a barbecue demonstration by chef Frank Ostini, who grilled everything from beef to shrimp to quesadillas to locally foraged morels, and veggies and bacon produced nearby, all of which we then tucked into. Ostini’s Hitching Post is a local favorite for barbecue in Central California’s wine country, memorably featured in the movie Sideways. His simple food had a smoky char that a Montana ranch hand would’ve approved of, and even the shortbread dessert was lightly grilled.
It had snowed (!!) lightly that morning, but that didn’t stand in the way of the first annual Bad-Ass Burger Dash, sponsored by Double R. Ranch and held in Trough restaurant’s backyard. Faison and Lee had each been tasked with putting together the perfect burger, assisted by sous-chefs plucked from the crowd. After 30 minutes of action and saucy commentary from Paws Up’s marketing director (“Chef Lee, we saw you lick that sauce spoon and put it back,”), the timer buzzed. Faison rushed to finish plating her chorizo-laced patty with secret sauce, crazily delicious bacon and Cheddar on an English muffin bun while Lee offered his soy-sauce-spiked beef with chipotle-fish-sauce ketchup and bacon jam. Ultimately, the judges pronounced Lee’s dripping, umami-rich version the winner.
Lee was in charge of the last dinner, where he showcased his signature style, which he dubs “one part Southern, one part Asian, one part New York.” It’s Southern fare with help from “the Asian pantry,” as he told me. Think chilled spring pea soup with salmon belly, pork rinds and pickled shallots. The meal was paired once again with Blue Mountain cider, which is lower in alcohol content than wine, and not all that boozy in general. It was definitely a good thing for my liver, which needed a break after three days of fun.
Standup comedian, Laurie McDermott, is an award-winning columnist, travel writer and television host. We love her take on glamping.
Greenough, Montana – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
Barbeque is going luxe at The Resort at Paws Up, Montana’s choice luxury resort for country-loving jet setters. The 37,000-acre property will be introducing Top Chef contestants, master grillers and local artisans to guests of its luxury homes and glamping tents all summer long.
Gourmand travelers can start licking their chops this Memorial Day weekend, at the debut of the resort’s Montana Master Grillers all-inclusive culinary experience. For four days and three nights, indulge in daily meals paired with fine wines, spirits and beers again lush wilderness backdrops. Your personal flamer-chefs include 610 Magnolia’s Ed Lee and Sweet Cheeks’ Tiffani Faison, both of whom grilled with gusto on Bravo TV’s beloved cooking show. After enjoying intimate one-on-ones with famed smokologists and distillers, retire to canvas tents with ensuite bathrooms and spacious decks. In the morning, wake up to a gourmet breakfast personally prepared by your very own camping butler.
This event acts as a complement to the annual Montana Master Chefs culinary event in September, a four-day gastronomic spectacle of five-course dinners and top libations from beloved vintners. Star chefs include Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg and the resort’s own Adam Cooke, who’s nabbed accolades from the likes of the James Beard Foundation. Champagne welcome reception and “quick fire” demos aside, the weekend also features a host of adventure offerings like fly fishing, mushroom foraging and cattle driving. For a special treat, opt for the hot air balloon add-on before a muscle-melting spa treatment in the woods.
Finally, between these two exclusive weekend experiences, the Montana Long Table program is a complimentary one-night adventure for guests staying at the resort on July 21. Take a long table seat in a lush grazing pasture for a taste of the ultimate nature getaway—and of the region’s rich flavors. Catered by local ranchers and farmers, who will be on-site to mingle with the guests, this evening is a true farm-to-table, once-in-a-lifetime foodie must.
By Bee-Shyuan Chang
The Resort at Paws Up – Montana
With 2-3 bedroom fully furnished tents that are cleaned twice daily, the experience at The Resort at Paws Up is more like that of a fabulous safari with the prices to match. (From $1,025, including airport and on-property transportation.)
Why Go: It’s the last word in luxury camping–you’ll find the kind of luxe niceties you might see in a Ralph Lauren ad.
Insider Tip: Try your hand at fly-fishing in Blackfoot River before indulging at the resort’s gourmet dining pavilion.
If it weren’t for the pristine north-country wilderness just outside your canvas door—including the rushing waters of Elk Creek and the Blackfoot River; and the pine and aspen forests, where elk and white-tail deer roam—you might forget that Pinnacle Camp isn’t an opulent mountain lodge. How many American campsites come with their own jetted spa tubs, heated-slate bathroom floors, daily housekeeping service and a dedicated camp butler? In truth, Pinnacle’s six roomy tents are part of an opulent mountain lodge: The Resort at Paws Up, a 37,000-acre spread that includes a working cattle ranch, horse stables and hundreds of miles of wooded trails for hiking, riding and scouting a private fly-fishing spot. For roughing it, this sure feels smooth.
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