Q&A: Hilton Garden Grille executive chef shares his cooking philosophy

Q&A: Hilton Garden Grille executive chef shares his cooking philosophy

OGDEN — Josh Overturf excels in making something out of nothing.

Overturf, executive chef at the Garden Grille and Bar in the Hilton Garden Inn, 2271 Washington Blvd. in Ogden, got his start in restaurant industry in Las Vegas and has been cooking up delectable meals in the kitchen for more than 26 years.

“I am a firm believer in ‘If it isn’t broke, break it,’” he said. “You can always improve things. You can always improve yourself. Make every experience a one-of-a-kind.”

The Standard-Examiner sat down with Overturf to discuss his restaurant experiences in the restaurant industry and his cooking philosophy.

The interview has been edited for length and category.

STANDARD-EXAMINER: What inspired you to become a chef?

Josh Overturf: I really enjoy making people happy. I started working as a dish washer when I was 15 1/2. It just took off from there. I worked with talented chefs who were not afraid to share their knowledge.

S-E: Where did you get your training?

JO: When I was 16, my parents moved from Seattle to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, I worked at Mandalay Bay for 10 years and the Golden Nugget for 10 years. At the Golden Nugget, I was the chef tournant, which meant I helped where I was I was needed in the different restaurants, including buffets, snack bars, gourmet rooms, Italian rooms and French rooms.

S-E: How long have you been a chef?

JO: A total of 26 1/2 years. I have been in Ogden for six and a half years and I opened the Hilton Hotel Garden Grille. In that time, I have learned that people eat with their eyes. If you are spending the time to make it look good, it sure better taste good. Everything I put on the plate is edible, from flowers to leeks.

S-E: What is your job title now?

JO: Executive chef. This includes anything to do with food and beverage in the hotel. I hit the ground running every day. I am very involved in menu creation. We are always changing our menu to include new items. I have created an all-you-can eat daily breakfast for $10.99 that is a popular attraction.

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S-E: What is your signature dish?

JO: We are known here for our crab cakes. We use jumbo lump crab, which means the crab meat is taken out of the crab in two large lumps.

S-E: Ranch dressing or fry sauce?

JO: I’ve been asked to bottle our ranch dressing. We make it here. It is so thick, you could stand up whatever you are dipping in it. I put ranch on everything from breakfast to dinner.

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Spicy tuna tartare shown here Monday, May 1, 2017, at the Garden Grille in Ogden. The dish includes ahi tuna, Sriracha, avocado and cucumbers topped off with elder flower caviar. Down the plate are dots of cranberry jelly.
SARAH WELLIVER/Standard-Examiner

S-E: Surf or turf?

JO: My answer to this was turf until two years ago when I had a heart attack. Now, I am all about surf. While I cut the best cuts of steak myself, we have many seafood offerings. Because I have made the switch in my own life, I feel better. I am a whole different person. I am 100 pounds lighter. I may have made a lot of mistakes but I learn from them.

S-E: Would you rather cook for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day?

JO: Valentine’s Day. You can make it creative. You can take it to the next level. People are willing to experiment. Our restaurant is known for experimenting. If customers give us notice, we are willing to have any meal here for them. You name it, you can get it. I have freedom and creativity for Valentine’s Day. It’s the second best holiday at this hotel. We are known for our Thanksgiving meal. We sell out every year. People come and stay here for Thanksgiving even though you don’t have to be a hotel guest to eat in our restaurant.

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Spicy tuna tartare shown here Monday, May 1, 2017, at the Garden Grille in Ogden. The dish includes ahi tuna, Sriracha, avocado and cucumbers topped off with elder flower caviar. Down the plate are dots of cranberry jelly.
SARAH WELLIVER/Standard-Examiner

S-E: If you could cook with anyone, who would it be?

JO: I would cook with Grant Achatz of the Alinea Group. He is the foremost leader in all science aspects of the chaos of cooking. He always takes it to the next level. Because of mouth cancer, he only has half his taste buds. He has to do a lot of smelling. People pay $600 for his 20 course meal. He brings you from being a diner to being part of the experience. He helps people try new things, which is important. Otherwise, you spend your whole life eating salads and chicken sandwiches.

S-E: Who is your role model?

JO: My wife, Sundae Overturf. She is such a hard worker. Everything she does, she does at 100 percent. She is a terrific mother and she deals with me. Each week, she plans our menu at home, which cuts down on expense and waste. She does an amazing job as a human being. She is so amazing. It is hard to get her down. She wakes up in a good mood and attacks life every day.

You can reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.