I first met with Chef Eric May on a Friday afternoon in late September. In the restaurant business, 2:30 p.m. is the proverbial eye of the storm—the lunch rush has passed and the staff spends a couple of hours resetting the scene for the coming whirlwind of dinner. This day was no exception.
Chef May settled into his chair, simultaneously composed and donning a chef’s preternatural sense of urgency. May is a restaurant-industry lifer. He attended culinary school at Peter Kump’s in New York City in 2000. For the next five years, May built his resume in restaurants around New York and Connecticut. Before May and his wife moved to Midway in 2005, he clocked hours at the Water’s Edge Resort in Long Island and the fabled Man Ray Restaurant in New York City. May worked in Park City for a stint before accepting the job of Executive Chef at the Blue Boar in 2006. At this time, the Inn was seven years old.
On the day of our interview, time was tight. This is understandable since May serves as the Blue Boar’s Executive Chef and its General Manager—two jobs that, taken alone, are famous for expediting burn out.
“It only works because I trust the people I work with,” May says confidently. He expresses that hiring talent to prepare the Blue Boar’s menu is difficult. But when he finds it, talent is duly rewarded. May’s most trusted staff have served alongside him for up to 12 years. His small, committed team serves guests at 50 seats in the restaurant and in 12 guestrooms.
The Blue Boar Inn is a celebration of flavor—and a feast of good taste. Sparing no detail, owners John and Marva Warnock have collected European antiques over the last quarter-century and stocked the Blue Boar full of rich history. Thirteenth-century crossbows adorn the walls alongside French oil paintings from the 1700s. Every stick of furniture has a story, and May tells me snippets of each as he gives me the tour. “This bar is made from a shipping trunk built in 1800,” he says, before moving on.
May describes the market as becoming more conscientious of food sourcing year by year. He and his team work hard with local distributor Nicolas & Co. to source close-to-home ingredients whenever possible. Some of his favorite Utah suppliers include Shepherd’s Cheese, Heber Valley Cheese, and Tooele Meats. “People want local, organic food, and we want to deliver that for them,” he says. Because of the short growing seasons in the Heber Valley, the menu also features favorite products of May’s team sourced from all over the western United States.
May describes his culinary style as “traditional—braise, grill, and saute.” The food is old-world technique applied to classic flavors. I was served an amuse-bouche of fresh cucumber and dill-seasoned soft cheese before enjoying the Blue Boar House Salad with shaved parmigiano-reggiano, grape tomatoes, and white balsamic vinaigrette ($9). The Holsteiner Schnitzel, a year-round favorite, is lightly breaded and served with spaetzle, roasted asparagus, fried egg, and a bright, lemony buerre blanc ($30). The dish lives up to the hype with flavors of asparagus and lemon balancing the rich textures.
The menu at the Blue Boar seems to satisfy every type of diner. There is something on the menu for foodies and meat-and-potatoes types alike. One thing conspicuously missing is any type of frill. This is a menu for people who appreciate quality ingredients. There are absolutely no bells or whistles to accompany entrees that tell the true story of their ingredients and nothing more. In a word, the Blue Boar experience could be described as “sincere.”