Madeline Hotel & Residences: Reflecting on a Culinary Adventure

Madeline Hotel & Residences: Reflecting on a Culinary Adventure

Not sure what uni is?

You are not alone.

But then you are also not a foodie in the know.

McLeod’s aerated uni

Aerated uni

“Uni” is the Japanese word for sea urchin – or more specifically, sea urchin’s gonads. Once relegated to sushi bars alone, uni is now everywhere you want to be if you travel on your belly: on buttery sandwiches for example and on the menu of trendy eateries such as New York’s tapas bar El Quinto Pino, where chef serves an uni panini. All-onda (means “of the waves’) offers bucatini with smoked uni and spicy bread crumbs.

I am pretty sure uni is not a local delicacy. Nor are soft spot prawns, octopus, or clams. Executive Chef Jason McLeod had them all that flown from San Diego, where he owns and operates Ironside Fish & Oyster, a raw bar and seafood place, which gets multiple stars where it counts: on Open Table, Trip Advisor, and Yelp.

McLeod served his uni aerated with crispy beef heart, B & B pickled chanterelles, radish and Serrano chiles, paired with Chardonnay Poseidon Vineyard Napa Carneros, the start of a recent, very special dinner at M Club at Madeline Hotel & Residences, Mountain Village.

Uni and crispy beef heart? If you are promoting a culinary adventure as Madeline was, you do not begin with shrimp or dip. You come out of your corner swinging your toque.

The uni dish was a taste of the ocean that announced itself like a squall. Subsequent tastes of denizens of the deep blue would be way less intimidating, more refined, but no less ambitious, zephyr-like on the plate.


While McLeod handled the surf part, turf was the domaine of Madeline’s Executive Chef, George Morris, a former professional colleague (in Chicago) and close friend of Mcleod. The dinner, dubbed Ski to Sea, was Morris’s idea. And the talented young chef in charge of all Madeline’s food operations promises variations on the theme, but always with the accent on farm to table from outings to places like the Telluride Farmer’s Market this summer. Stay tuned…

The elegant, but understated affair began with black truffle and caviar on toast with olive oil jam and stinging nettle jelly, followed by foie gras with morel mushrooms and sun chokes. A memorable five-course feast followed the amuses bouches: the aforementioned uni/beef heart combo; fried chickened San Diego spot prawns, soft boiled egg, garlic puree, fennel and orange, paired with Chardonnay Poseidon Vineyard. Napa Carneros; pork belly with charred octopus, English peas apple mustard, chorizo aioli and celery leaves, paired with Pinot Noir Poseidon Vineyard; Napa Carneros; lightly grilled elk loin with smoked Baja clams, fava beans, asparagus, sunchokes and stinging nettles emulsion, paired with Cabernet Sauvignon Obsidian Ridge, Mayacamas Mountains. Dessert was equally imaginative: strawberry shorty with fennel short cake, white chocolate, Thai basil and multiple applications of strawberries, paired with a special dessert cocktail created by chefs. (All pairings from Tricycle Wine Partners.)

Clearly the work of maestros: Morris and McLeod managed to extract more subtle flavors than seemed possible from the point-counterpoint of surf and turf.

Strawberry shorty

Strawberry shorty

The hushed elegance of the comfortable room known as M Club was the perfect setting for the evening. When not occupied by special events such as Ski to Sea, M Club offers breakfast and dinner daily, outdoor fire tables and an indoor-outdoor bar, plus pool, shuffleboard and darts. (Normally seats about 45: hotel guests and residence owners have priority. But go for it, then kick back and relax: Chef Morris loves to do chef’s choice dinners.)

Our host for the dinner was Madeline’s charming general manager, Duncan Hogarth, who warmly welcomed his guests, then pulled up a chair at one of the tables to enjoy the experience himself.

Apparently lots of happy people work at M Club: it was always service with a smile. Between courses the conversation around the room was effusive and robust.

And the vibe? Upbeat, lively, satisfied.

More of the same please.

More about Chef George Morris:

Chef George Morris

Chef George Morris

Well-traveled and widely experienced, Chef Morris oversees all culinary operations for the boutique property including the two restaurants, Black Iron Kitchen & Bar and M Club. He also is in charge of banqueting, special events, and guest cooking programs.

Chef Morris’ passion for cooking began early in life, stemming from an interest in food when he started cooking at home at the age of seven. He attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. Chef Morris arrived at Madeline Hotel and Residences following tenures as Executive Chef at Beaumont’s Eatery in San Diego, and The Truffle Pig in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Upon arrival at Madeline Hotel and Residences, Chef Morris reinvented the menu at Black Iron Kitchen & Ba rpreviously known at SMAK Bar, to include more shareable dishes and a menu that features his modern mountain take on casual family favorites. M Club, previously known at Restaurant REV, features an entirely new menu inspired by locally-sourced ingredients including foraged mushrooms and regional cuts of steak, as well as Chef Morris’ signature shareable starter Jars.

More about Madeline Hotel & Residences:

Pool, Madeline Hotel, Mountain Village, Telluride, CO.

Pool, Madeline Hotel, Mountain Village, Telluride, CO.

Madeline Hotel and Residences is located at the heart of Mountain Village in Telluride, Colorado. A Virtuoso®-preferred destination and member of The Leading Hotels of The World©, Madeline is a four-diamond rated, ski-in ski-out property featuring 89 guest rooms, 11 hotel residences, 60 residences, 2 restaurants, 4,000 square feet of meeting space, and multiple world-class amenities including The Madeline Spa. The property is currently undergoing over $10 million in renovations. For more information visit

About Mountain Village:

Mountain Village, situated in the heart of the breathtaking San Juan Mountains, was incorporated in 1995 as a home rule municipality. Its founders envisioned a European-style ski-in/ski-out, pedestrian-friendly destination resort that would complement the historic mining town of Telluride. A three-stage gondola transportation system connects the Town of Mountain Village with the Town of Telluride. Situated at 9,500 feet, Mountain Village is comparably a world apart from other resorts: it is innately spectacular, beautifully orchestrated and planned, and overflowing with style, charm and sophistication. For more information, please visit us on the Web at

Seasonal rates at Madeline Hotel and Residences from $329 a night. For more information or reservations, please visit or call 866-475-4403.

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