Rob Ittner is back on the local culinary scene as the new food and beverage director at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, where he will take the lead on dining operations at the Snowmass Village arts hub.
Ittner joined the team two weeks ago, he said in an interview Thursday. He plans to kick off the summer season with a Sunday welcome dinner at the on-campus cafe on June 6, just before the return of in-person workshops on June 7.
Ittner has long maintained a philosophy that food is a form of art at culinary ventures like the French bistro Rustique and the Cooking School of Aspen, which he sold in 2019 along with The Cottage Aspen, an art gallery and special events venue.
He’ll continue to prove that idea as he cultivates globally inspired menus for the artists and visitors who flock to the longstanding Owl Creek Road campus for workshops, residencies, classes and creative experiences.
This is not Ittner’s first time showcasing his craft at the Ranch: he revived the Rustique ethos for a one-night-only pop-up at the campus in 2019. But this tenure will be more long-term, with Ittner at the helm of a seven-days-a-week dining operation.
A full breakfast, lunch and dinner slate will be available Monday through Friday for program participants, faculty, interns, students and the general public. Sunday dinners continue all season long, and a continental breakfast is available on Saturdays.
Anyone is welcome to join any meal; Ittner said he’s also planning a selection of grab-and-go items.
As for the menu, expect lots of variety, he said. He recognizes that he has a “captive audience” of sorts at Anderson Ranch, where program participants spend much of their time on campus and where guests will likely eat at the cafe numerous times throughout their stay.
“Having variety and things to change is a unique challenge but it’s also a unique opportunity for us. … Having that kind of variety is important to what we do here,” Ittner said.
Ittner is still fine-tuning the details of the day-to-day menu offerings; that work hinges in part on developing the staff who will prepare that food each day.
“One of the key elements to determining it is going to be hiring a culinary team here,” Ittner said. He intends to oversee the culinary direction of the cafe but won’t necessarily be the chef in the kitchen preparing each meal throughout the season.
That direction will likely have international influences inspired by recent travels, Ittner said.
“We will have an overlying stream of healthy, fresh, hearty, interesting flavor combinations but it will represent a global representation of flavors,” he said.