I recently was able to visit the charming Boon Hotel & Spa where they have so much to offer. One of my favorites was the delicious food served there. I had the pleasure of interviewing the chef of the restaurants Boon Eat + Drink, Brot Modern, and Boon Hotel & Spa.
Continue reading to see My Interview with Chef Crista Luedtke.
Read more about my stay at Boon Hotel + Spa here and read about their amazing Glamping Experiences at Boon Hotel + Spa and The Highlands (both owned by Crista) on the blog here.
What was your first memory of cooking and what did you cook?
I vividly remember standing on a milk crate in the back kitchen at our bar/gastro pub In West Bend, WI. at about 5yrs old helping my mom make burgers and Bratwursts for a busy lively bar full of patrons.
What is the story behind Boon? Boon Hotel + Spa? Boon Eat + Drink Restaurant?
Boon was my rescue Pit Bull who was my everything, he taught me to live life to the fullest and he was the inspiration for me to leave the corporate grind to find better things in life. Boon means gift or blessing. So when I made the decision to open a hotel I wanted it to be a ‘boon’ to the town, to those who visited. It became just that and I loved the concept so much if felt only natural to open the restaurant with the same name and allow them to “feed” one another in a marketing sense. It’s been nothing but a blessing from there.
What was one of the biggest mistakes you made during your first year in the culinary industry?
My biggest mistake was maybe thinking I could do it all. And I sure tried. There are so many facets to running a restaurant that you have to be able to build the right team and trust your instincts
When did you know you wanted to become a chef? Hotelier?
After working many years in the corporate world I really knew it was time to do what I always wanted, to go back to hospitality, to create a lifestyle career. I think I was 35! time flies. I really wanted to open a restaurant but my mom talked me out of it just long enough for me to decide I should open a hotel first. That only lasted a year before I then followed it up with my first restaurant.
For anyone who hasn’t dined at your restaurants can you share ONE dish at each restaurant you’d suggest they try and WHY?
The Boon Brussels and Mac n’ cheese, together. Kinda like an adult version of chocolate and peanut butter. It’s so good together…the crispy, spicy lemony Brussels with the creamy sinful mac….MMMMMmmmm
What is your favorite culinary spot in Sonoma County (outside of your restaurants)?
I’m loving the vibe and the playfulness of Lo & Behold. They are nailing it! They are true industry professionals doing what they love. They don’t take themselves too seriously, they have fun, they are creative and it shows in their food and drink program.
Who has been the most influential mentor/chef in your career?
My most influential person has been and remains my mom. She taught me my work ethic, she taught me to be scrappy, and she taught me how to work with what I have an make the most of it. That you can’t learn in school.
What is your favorite after-work drink?
Anything with Mezcal or just Mezcal on its own.
In addition to owning restaurants, you also own two hotels, boon hotel + spa & The Highlands. How did you first get into hotels? What is that like vs. being a restaurateur & chef?
I actually opened my hotel first, funny enough. Really, I love both hotels and restaurants, to me its all about creating the most amazing experiences. Whether it’s the best drink, the best plate of food, the best bed, its all about the little details. There are so many things that I love about both. Moving forward, however, I am looking to open more hotels that have Food/Bev in the mix. I want to work to combine my two worlds more and optimize the labor piece.
Tell us something that would surprise people about you?
Well maybe that I have had several careers before all this, from working in Physical Therapy to High Tech recruiting of Electrical Engineers to Western Regional Sales Manager for a Bio-tech company, to Mortgage Broker, oh and I play the drums.