The Aspen pop-up will feature dishes inspired by Humm's childhood in Switzerland—such as trout toast, veal schnitzel, spatzle, braised cabbage, and fondue. There are also yurts.
On December 15, Eleven Madison Park opens the doors of its newest pop-up concept, EMP Winter House, in partnership with American Express, at the St. Regis in Aspen. The much-heralded restaurant—perennially ordained the best in the U.S. and the world—will take up residence in an overhauled space formerly occupied by Chefs Club as well as in an adjoining courtyard, which the Make It Nice team converted into Yurt Village, a collection of Swiss-themed heated tents where guests can take their apres ski or book ahead for large-format suppers—Alpine Fondue (cheese), Fondue Chinoise (hotpot), a Roast Lamb Feast, or Fondue Deluxe (Chinese hotpot feat. Wagyu beef and Mangalitsa pork). Food & Wine stopped by on Friday for an early sneak peek, where Chef Daniel Humm served a four-course dinner of fruits de mer—oyster with mignonette, prawn cocktail, scallop with yuzu and pistachio—foie gras, a choice of Zurich-style veal or lobster thermidor, and a Mont Blanc for dessert.
"We started talking about Winter House a year and a half ago," EMP co-owner Will Guidara says. "We did a thing called EMP Summer House in the Hamptons. We did it because we were renovating our restaurant in New York and the renovation was going to take about four months and we needed a way to keep our team... As it turns out, living on the beach is quite nice. And the last night, Daniel caught me. He knows the best time to get what he wants out of me is halfway through my second Manhattan. So he came up to me and he's like, 'Well I really think we've got to do the Hamptons thing again.' And I was like, 'We did it! The whole seasonal staff thing, it doesn't work!' And he was like, 'I've got it. What about Aspen?' And it was an amazing idea and immediately I knew it was right. The whole idea was: What if we were to create a restaurant where the team lived in the Hamptons during the summer and we all came out here together during the winter. And so everyone that is here, we've all been working together for a very long time, they all just moved out from the beach to the mountains."
EMP Winter House is far more casual than its mothership Eleven Madison Park in New York City. The Aspen pop-up will feature dishes inspired by Humm's childhood in Switzerland—such as trout toast, veal schnitzel, spatzle, braised cabbage, and fondue. It's a type of cuisine that has never graced an EMP menu before now.
"For me, it's special to be in the mountains," Humm says. "I grew up in Switzerland, going to St. Moritz almost every weekend in the summer and in the winter skiing and snowboarding. And so when people say, 'Are you a mountain person or a beach person?' I'm definitely a mountain person. I love Aspen. In the past two years we've both been able to come out here in the winter and in the summer and we just fell in love with it. And then in terms of the food, today you're going to experience some dishes I grew up with. What's amazing is I grew up with [Swiss food] but I never actually really cooked it because when I was 15, I started working in the kitchen and I worked for French chefs and that was very different than Swiss cuisine. I'm excited. I never thought I would one day cook it, but this time it just felt really right. Will tried—he pushed me many times, like, 'Let's do a Swiss night in New York.' And it just never felt quite right. But now it really feels so good."
EMP Winter House is located at Chefs Club at the St. Regis in Aspen, CO, and is open December 15, 2018 through April 9, 2019. American Express is the only credit card accepted at EMP Winter House. Card members also have exclusive access to reservations.