Big things are in the works this season for Squaw Valley USA’s Culinary Services department. This fall, Squaw Valley USA remodeled the mountain’s legendary Olympic House base lodge and hired Dave Benge as the resort’s new Director of Culinary Services. Dave Benge comes to Squaw Valley with over 25 years of resort experience, all of which has prepared him to raise the bar for dining both at Squaw Valley and within the ski industry at large.
“It’s all about the guest,” said Benge. “I want guests to feel that they’re getting a great value as well as quality when they eat here. I think that’s something often lacking in resort dining.”
Among Benge’s first steps towards improving value and quality is a complete redesign of the Olympic House menus. The Olympic House Pavilion will be serving up brand new items such as hand-tossed salads, gourmet pizza and Asian stir-fry bowls. All dishes will be made with an abundance of fresh and local ingredients meaning that lunches will be as healthy as they are tasty. One of the new stations, Amigos Burritos, will be serving Benge’s own signature burrito that he has perfected over the years. “Even my wife keeps asking me what’s in the burrito,” said Benge.
Benge has also overseen the remodel of Olympic House’s Bar One-Squaw Valley’s original bar. In the resort’s early years, Bar One was home to hilarious skits produced and presented by guests and employees, sometimes accompanied by Squaw Valley founder Alex Cushing on the piano. The recent remodel has restored Bar One to its former glory including a refurbished fireplace, expansive bar and enhanced mountain views.
“I’m really exited about the renovations to Bar One,” noted Benge. “It has a taste of the past but it’s also very contemporary. Guests can look forward to an warm and inviting atmosphere for après ski.”
Like Squaw Valley’s new CEO Andy Wirth, Dave Benge has a passion for creating the ultimate guest experience. Whether its lunch over a burrito or the ultimate mountain wedding, Benge notes that he loves interacting with guests and making their time at Squaw Valley.
“This is where people make the memories of a lifetime-I love being a part of that experience,” said Benge.
Dave Benge has been involved in the food industry in one aspect or another since he was twelve years old. While he won’t let on how long it’s been since then (his wife would kill him, he says), Benge’s astonishing wealth of experience and commitment to guest service will undoubtedly take the resort’s Culinary Services to the next level.