Chef trying to spice up Carson City |

Chef trying to spice up Carson City

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Todd Boerner, chef for the Station Grille, creates a flame while cooking Spanish shrimp in olive oil in the Grille's kitchen on Friday.

Todd Boerner hovers over notes for a banquet like a couple reviewing paint colors for a new kitchen.

“It’s not final,” the chef says, “but I was probably going to do something like start them out with a baked brie en crute – en crute is ‘in crust’ – so it will be in a pie shell. Then I kind of put marmalade and almonds and stuff on top.

“It’s really nice.”

Also, lamb with a fresh mint demi-glaze, he added, and a white chocolate moose over the desert.

Boerner, who returned to the Station Grille three months ago as executive chef, says he loves to create and is trying to get diners in the city to try new things. He also worked there in the early 1990s.

While the residents still prefer a traditional dinner, he’s been impressed with how popular items such as frog legs have been.

People are getting better, he said.

“I love doing stuff like that. I can do something I did before, but I can change it up.”

Producing American meals that bring in French, Italian, Asian and other influences that helped create the country itself is important, he said.

This means moving away from the traditional way of thinking of a meal as “pretty much meat and potatoes and a little fish here and there.”

When Boerner took his first high school cooking class in the late 1970s, though, he didn’t know much about food himself. He said he was overwhelmed with the options.

“When I thought oysters, I thought they came in a can. Spinach, you know, I never had any fresh spinach.”

He said he took the class to fill his schedule so he could stay to play hockey.

“To me, it (seemed like) an easy cruise class. You know, you go in there, you cook, you get to eat every day, and you get to have fun and learn new stuff.”

Since that class, he’s worked as a chef at restaurants in Minnesota, Southern California and around Lake Tahoe.

Clark Russell, the owner of the restaurant, said he likes Boerner because he works hard and is versatile as a chef. He can do anything from peel onions to make one of the best meals in the city, Russell said.

While making a good meal is important, Boerner said, so is enjoying the work.

For instance, presentation is important to a meal but he tries not to be protective as other chefs he’s worked with. He said he knew one who wouldn’t allow salt and pepper on the tables because the dishes were supposedly perfect as they were.

As he continues to try new things, he said, he also finds himself going back to home-style dishes and trying something new with them. Customers like meals like that, such as pot roast, but they don’t have time to cook them.

One of the best home-style cooks Boerner knew was his mother. He said he had a big extended family and they had meals all the time.

“All the girls did was cook,” he said.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.