New award-winning executive chef is heading up CMC Breckenridge’s Recreational Culinary Institute
May 30, 2023 – Foodies looking for a delicious and personalized opportunity to learn more about tastes from around the world have a new chef to help guide them in their experiences. Travis Smith, an award-winning chef and veteran, has joined Colorado Mountain College’s Breckenridge campus as the executive chef of the Recreational Culinary Institute – which offers a wildly popular series of cooking classes.
“I really love Breckenridge – Summit County is a really nice area,” Smith said. “I appreciate the opportunity to explore and to professionally grow, as well.”
CMC Breckenridge offers two culinary programs: a professional culinary arts program and a series of popular recreational, non-credit community culinary classes. Those 12-person courses, spanning from Latin American cooking to Caribbean cuisine, sell out quickly; the program also offers private culinary classes for parties or club events. Smith says this year’s offerings will be expanded to include classes on Korean and Japanese dining, as well as regional American dishes and even the foods of Canada.
Smith brings a vast body of culinary experience that includes 20 years in the Army, where he was a food service warrant officer with the fabled 10th Mountain Division, as well as years of work as a chef, restaurant owner and food industry consultant. His time in South Korea and Hawaii gave him a special interest in Asian food, and he also participated in his unit’s yearly entries into the International Culinary Olympics and the Culinary World Cup.
“We won multiple gold medals, though it was a lot of hard work – you’d have 24 hours to prepare seven menus,” he said. “I still had two duffle bags with all the Division’s white military gear, but we were never deployed to combat.”
He recently received the General John D. McLaughlin Award from the American Culinary Federation for recognition of his professionalism in the industry and service to the nation.
Since leaving the military, Smith has had a series of varied dining experiences, including three years of fill-in work as executive chef at country clubs from Jackson Hole to Amarillo, Texas, as well as launching Bistro Colorado in Evergreen. More recently, he served as consultant to Georgetown’s Bistro Colorado at 511 Rose, a historic saloon and home decor business.
Smith has been working on new collaborative projects for this fall’s CMC recreational culinary courses, including a Wines of the World series with Bob Fowles of Table 31 wine importers, as well as a baking partnership with Breckenridge’s Duchess Cakes.
“I’m absolutely fascinated with cheese, as well, so I’m trying to make the most of the 150-plus selections you can find in our local markets. And I’m working with the cheesemonger at Whole Foods to build a new course on cheese and charcuterie – you’ll learn how to make your own cured meats, pate and foie gras mousseline. That’s going to be a neat opportunity.”
Go to CMC Breckenridge’s community culinary classes for more information.