McCall Chef Semifinalist In Prestigious Culinary Competition

Feb 25, 2013

Chef Gary Kucy didn't believe the news when he heard he was nominated for the James Beard Foundation Awards.
Credit Guy Hand

If you eat at Rupert’s at the Hotel McCall, you could soon be indulging in some Oscar-worthy food. Chef Gary Kucy received word last week that he is a semifinalist in the James Beard Foundation Awards. That's kind of like being nominated by the Academy.

Chef Gary Kucy has worked with a number of James Beard finalists throughout his career. But he was surprised and humbled to hear that this year, he is one of them.

Originally from the Southwest, Kucy has cooked in high-profile kitchens in New York, San Fransicso, L.A., and even Singapore. He and his wife moved to McCall in 2002. He says restaurant patrons in this town of 3,000 people have slightly different palates.  

“This is kind of steak and potatoes area," says Kucy, "and for me to introduce people to a vegetation dish or to a great fish dish, it takes a little bit more finesse and prodding on our end to get them to go there. But I think many people are real excited when they eat our food.”

Kucy built the menu at Rupert’s. The chef says he fundamentally likes all kinds of food – and he doesn’t like to pigeonhole himself into one category. So even though he’s a semifinalist in the Northwest region, Kucy likes to keep things spicy. He tries to make up for a lack of ethnic restaurants in McCall.

“Every Thursday night I’ll do two Thai dishes, usually a noodle dish and a curry and a soup and an appetizer. And that’s kind of our Thai restaurant in the town!" he laughs.

Kucy says there’s a lot to Idaho’s culinary scene that should be recognized.  

“[We have] fresh morels growing in our backyard and huckleberries all over the place and Salmon coming right out of the river. There’s a lot of neat attributes that we have that some of the other places don’t.”

He’s one of two Idaho chefs nominated for the James Beard competition, and he hopes more will be honored next year.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio