Chef Laurent Pillard's first winter at the St. Regis Aspen marks changes to the resort's culinary program—and a compelling new choose-your-own-adventure addition we're calling the sweet-and-savory s'mores matrix.
It's been six months since Chef Laurent Pillard joined the St. Regis Aspen to lead the resort's culinary program—he previously worked in many of the best establishments in France, including the two Michelin starred Hôtel du Lion d'Or in Romorantin, and L'Archestrate and Lucas Carton, three Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, before spending more than a decade opening restaurants in Las Vegas. This winter, his first in the mountain town, a favorite ski destination of celebs and outdoor adventure enthusiasts, Chef Pillard is shaking things up—bringing an abundance of locally-sourced ingredients to the table in dishes inspired by nature, and presented with a tiny touch of Vegas magic.
Case in point: Chef Laurent's Pillard's S'mores Matrix
(To be fair, the St. Regis Aspen isn't calling it a S'mores Matrix exactly—it's called a S'mores Menu and it's available for both in-room dining and at Mountain Social, the hotel's lobby bar and lounge.)
"When I'm surrounded by nature, I try to use as much of that inspiration as I can in my food," Chef Pillard tells Food & Wine. "From Vegas, I brought some ideas about presentation—that's why on the new menu you get scallops in a dome, and we smoke them a la minute. So when the dome comes to the table with the cloche, I make sure the server [opens it in a way] and gets all the smoke to the guest. I do that with the buffalo short ribs as well."
Chef Pillard's nature-inspired showmanship extends to breakfast, where an order of steak and eggs can be cooked tableside—on hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven rocks. For dessert, the menu proffers a nod to the town's namesake tree.
"The last thing we put on the menu three weeks ago—when I was biking, when I first started, I saw Aspen trees," he says. "So I came up with this idea to do something that looks like Aspen trees—I made a meringue with ashes on top, we take them and put them on a plate with a bit of chocolate and herbs, and they look like Aspen trees."
For apres at Mountain Social, the choose-your-own-adventure sweet and savory s'mores menus were designed to fulfill a more practical need—feeding parents and kids mid-afternoon, before dinner, after a fun day on the slopes.
"I thought it would be cool, when the kids are enjoying sweets, to have something for the parents when they're having a glass of Champagne," Chef Pillard says. "When it's 5 o'clock, I like to have a glass of wine or Champagne and something savory, so that's why I thought of doing something that looks like s'mores—though they're not going to melt the cheese on the fire—but that's the idea. When the kids are doing their own thing with melting marshmallows, parents can have little sandwiches with caviar, smoked salmon, candied bacon, and cheese."
The savory and sweet s'mores menus are served charcuterie-board style and parents (and kids) can pick their favorites a la carte—one savory or sweet s'mores ingredient from each column—for at-the-table DIY assembly. Curious which combos chef recommends? Food & Wine asked Chef Pillard to recommend three delicious combos—here's what he suggested:
Pretzel toast + Moonhill brie (from Steamboat, Colo.) + candied bacon + sun-dried tomato
Pita bread + ricotta (laced with lemon-zest) + piquillo pepper + prosciutto + eggplant caviar
Ginger snaps + sliced pineapple + Nutella + passionfruit marshmallow
Note: "These marshmallows [and jams, preserves, and even the chocolate bar!] are made in-house, so they're really soft," Chef Pillard says, "so I don't think you need to toast them."