Chef Chavez returns to Craig steakhouse after 7 months away |

Chef Chavez returns to Craig steakhouse after 7 months away

Rolfy Chavez, 46, contends from the beginning of time, people have gathered around food.

"Food brings people together in any race, any color, any religion," he said. "People come when there is something to eat. I like that. That is a good experience in the community and for everybody."

Family and people are the main reasons Chavez, the executive chef at the Castle Ranch Steakhouse inside the Holiday Inn of Craig, initially became interested in cooking and ultimately decided to become a chef.

The people of Craig, however, were the reason Chavez decided to move back to the area.

He helped open the Castle Ranch Steakhouse as a Holiday Inn employee more than a year ago, he said.

"I missed the people here," he said. "Coming back, I can see the changes we need to make, and those are the changes we are working on."

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Chavez returned to Craig in the middle of June to fill the vacant chef's position after living in San Diego for seven months, where he managed two restaurants.

One of the reasons he left San Diego was to focus on cooking instead of managing, he said.

"It seemed like I had unfinished business," he said.

"I think if a restaurant or hotel (wants) to be successful, we must be part of the community. That's what I want to do."

One example of helping the community, Chavez said, is cooking for the homeless and the needy, which he hopes to do in coming months.

"We know food, so that is what we can do," he said.

Chavez also wants to help the restaurant expand and implement new ideas to keep the business successful.

He hopes to expand the wine selection to up to 40 wines, and add new steaks and other dining options to the restaurant's existing menu of ribs, prime rib, filet mignons, fish and salads, among other selections.

But, Chavez wasn't always passionate about cooking, people and the communities he lives in.

Chavez worked as a salesman for the Quaker Oatmeal Company in Guatemala, where he was born. In 1984, he moved to San Diego at age 20, and began working in the restaurant industry.

"That is why I like people," he said. "I started talking to people, and then I got into food because I love food. Everybody loves food."

But, Chavez said he never thought about cooking until he came to the U.S.

"When I saw a kitchen, I knew," he said. "Because (of) the pace. You have to be fast, and you have to be very picky about what you are serving and you have to like what you are serving."

Chavez was trained in the culinary arts through the Sheraton Hotel's training program.

After bouncing around in various cooking positions at several different hotels, and owning his own catering business for two-and-a-half years, he began working for the Holiday Inn chain.

He has also helped open a steakhouse in a Holiday Inn in Boise, Idaho, and helped with another steakhouse in Price, Utah, he said.

"I really like this company," he said. "The company has been good to me. The general manager is great, but what I like about the company is they think of us as a family. … I like that because not many companies think about that."

Craig is a welcoming place for Chavez, he said, so he can "settle down and rethink my future."

"Craig is a healing place for me," he said. "Because (of) the calmness, the mountains, the quietness. … I think I get a lot more ideas out of this place because it gives me more time to read, to practice with cooking. I love cooking."

Chavez hopes to be in Craig for at least another year to accomplish the goals he envisions for the steakhouse. But, his second stint could prove longer.

"I don't know," he said. "I'm back, so I might stay longer than a year."

The perfect steak

A simple guide to the perfect steak by chef Rolfy Chavez:

• Take a steak and prepare it by rubbing it with olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, garlic and rosemary. Sear both sides of the steak to lock in the juices before baking the steak in the oven for eight minutes at 350-degrees.

“A good steak doesn’t need anything,” Chavez advised.

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