Locals burn their passion for cooking on DVD

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Nancy and Tim Clark met when they were teenagers in 1969, married in 1975 and have been dreaming up their own dinner recipes ever since.

Now, they've begun to transfer their passion for the culinary arts into a business. With their son, also named Tim, and friends Neil Marchman and Francois Lalive, they've produced a DVD. Called "Freestyle Gourmet Recipes," it features footage of Nancy preparing original recipes in her kitchen on Elk River Road and Marchman performing on guitar and keyboards.

"Our goal is to make Freestyle Gourmet a household name," Nancy said.

Tim said the couple always has relished entertaining dinner guests and playing music together.

"Anytime we have a weekend off, that's what we do," Tim said.

Now, they're pursuing their dream of sharing their enthusiasm with a much larger audience.

The DVD runs 105 minutes, enough time for Nancy to demonstrate a half-dozen tantalizing original recipes. They include: Soda Creek Kim-chee, Artichoke Rellenos e Yampa, Cowboy Style Sushi Rolls, Flaming Mountain Stuffed Crab, Buffalo Pass Elk Kabobs with Mountain High Sauce and The Sleeping Giant's Strawberry Dessert Pizza.

The dessert pizza is a good example of how the Clarks collaborate on their dishes.

"I was sitting in the rocking chair trying to dream up a recipe for the DVD," Tim recalled. "I was thinking about a cheesecake."

Coincidentally, Tim overheard Nancy asking the family whether they wanted to eat pizza for dinner.

"We'll take a pizza crust and build a cheesecake!" he thought out loud.

He combined a strawberry- and raspberry-topped cheesecake on a crust of sweet pizza dough. Their friends were stunned at how well the novel dessert turned out.

The recipes soon will be available on their Web site, www.free stylegourmet.com.

Inspired by Gourmet magazine's travel-oriented approach to exploring regional cuisines, the Clarks set out to capture the flavor of the Yampa Valley in their DVD production.

Marchman, who plays in many musical styles but particularly enjoys blues and jazz, provides the DVD with an authentic original soundtrack. Lalive is interviewed about his experience in the world of competitive ski racing.

The name "Freestyle Gourmet" doesn't refer to freestyle skiing as much as it refers to the Clarks' approach to imagining and testing original recipes.

They produced their video during the summer. Their son did the taping on a digital video camera and monitored the sound on professional equipment borrowed from a friend. They acknowledge that their editing equipment for this initial video was very basic, and they already have obtained desktop video editing equipment for the second DVD, which is due out in time for holiday entertaining.

Tim says the second video will reflect the lessons they learned from their initial effort.

"It could never be as hard as what we just went through," Tim said.

Nancy explained that they had to restart the production from the beginning 10 times as they improved their video skills.

Marchman is an accomplished musician, but even he learned a great deal from the process of creating the music for the DVD.

"I had to get used to being on camera," Marchman said. "Being on stage with an audience is different from being on camera."

Marchman assisted in composing the music by Tim, who plays a mean slide guitar.

The Clarks are involved in a form of guerilla marketing to get their new DVD to the public. They hope to have local retailers carrying it soon, and they are counting heavily on word of mouth.

Tim said he hopes enthusiasm for the DVD is almost "viral" or contagious.

"We're starting right here in our community," he said. "If we can't make it work here, it won't work" on a national basis.

If everything works out just right for the Clarks, they hope within a few years to have built a library of DVDs based upon their original recipes and to be traveling abroad to research ethnic dishes.

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