Chow Bella

Robert McGrath Takes Summer Gig at Mustang Monument Eco-Resort in Nevada

James Beard Award winner and host of Emmy Award-winning Check, Please! Arizona on PBS, Robert McGrath has landed a unique summer gig as executive chef for a brand new eco-resort in Nevada. Situated in the wilderness, in the middle of a wild mustang preserve in the northeastern part of the state, Mustang Mountain Wild Horse Eco-Resort & Preserve offers a one-of-a-kind getaway for affluent vacationers who want a rugged Southwestern experience without giving up the little luxuries to which they've become accustomed.

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According to philanthropist and resort founder Madeleine Pickens, McGrath is the perfect guy for the job. Here's why:

"Our goal was to identify a five-star chef who would create a cuisine for the resort that would be a key element of the luxury experience at Mustang Monument," Pickens says. "Chef McGrath is well-known for his culinary expertise, including using seasonal ingredients re-purposed with a Southwest twist, and we are honored to have him with us."

Although the resort isn't open to the public this summer, excepted to a small number of invited guests (the official launch is June 2014), McGrath already is on the job, creating the kind of sophisticated cowboy food for which he's famous. Here's what he'll be rustling up for a lucky few this season: New Mexico fondue pot with lamb chops, Granny Smith apples, squaw bread with pepitas and pepper jack cheese; sweet potato empanadas with chile-spiced shrimp, bufala mozzarella, and Colorado corn cream; and wood-roasted beets with mascarpone sorbet, squash blossoms, green garlic, and pine nuts.

Meanwhile, the resort promises to be amazing. Luxe accommodations include 490-square-foot wood-floored tipis at $1,200 per night ($1,400 double occupancy) or luxury safari tents which serve as suites ($1,500 per night, $1,800 double occupancy).

McGrath will still host his popular Check, Please! Arizona shows, given that there's no time conflict between taping programs and cooking amid mustangs (which is not quite as lonely as dancing with wolves).

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Nikki Buchanan