A chef finds a career summit
Leif Benson has run the kitchen at this alpine resort for the past 30 years, but, psst, he really doesn't like skiing or snow. But who could resist...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Leif Benson has run the kitchen at this alpine resort for the past 30 years, but, psst, he really doesn't like skiing or snow.
But who could resist the chance to work at a historic hotel and build restaurants in a resort setting?
Benson, 53, a chef and cookbook author, oversees eight restaurants from pub food to fine dining around Mount Hood. He advocated using local and organic products decades before those terms became trendy.
His acclaimed restaurant, Timberline's Cascade Dining Room, specializes in game meat and seafood and features an extensive list of Oregon's finest pinot noirs. The restaurants also serve beer brewed at Mount Hood.
About 30 years ago, Timberline officials flew him in from Northern California for a job interview. Timberline was going to be a pit stop, "three, five years at the most," he said.
But Benson recalled being mesmerized by the Mount Hood setting and the alpine lodge.
"What a great place," he said. "The architecture of this building. This is an Oregon icon."
Working in a resort allows him the flexibility to travel around the world like many of the jet-setters who eat at his Cascade Dining Room. He also serves as a chef consultant around the world.
"I'm kind of like living the dream," the Sweden native said.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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