The salad includes pecans, dried cranberries (shown below), romaine lettuce and goat cheese. Finished salad shown on opposite page.

Photo by John F. Russell

The salad includes pecans, dried cranberries (shown below), romaine lettuce and goat cheese. Finished salad shown on opposite page.

Freshies focuses on ingredients, work atmosphere

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The fun-loving crew at Freshies takes pride in providing top service and good food. The group includes, back row from left: Bert Roulette, Jen Yannotti, Dave Marrs and Paul Quigg. Front row, from left: Tami Fricault, Scott Fox, Kristy Fox and Dawn Hilterbrand.

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Bert Roulette adds sugared pecans while tossing the Meadows salad in the kitchen at Freshies

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The salad includes pecans, dried cranberries (shown below), romaine lettuce and goat cheese. Finished salad shown on opposite page.

There's no such thing as an offseason at Freshies.

When the ski lifts stop running and the streets clear, you still can expect a crowd at the South Lincoln Avenue restaurant, a locals' favorite.

"There's a lot of people in Steamboat who have a clean kitchen," said Kristy Fox, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Scott. "One thing I see here more than anyplace else I've worked is we see the same people coming in multiple times a week, if not the same day."

The Foxes said their consistent staff - mostly originals from when the restaurant opened in 2002 - helps foster "a real, solid, local feeling." Kristy Fox calls it "our Freshies team." It's a team the Foxes themselves are very much members of. It's not every restaurant you'll find the owners' names listed on the same schedule with line cooks and waitresses.

"There is not one person who dominates it," Kristy Fox said. "This place would fall apart without a team. We enjoy having low turnover. That helps us stay true to consistency and sense of ownership for everybody."

The Foxes said they're happy with their decision to serve only breakfast and lunch. They say the decision allows their valued staff to live balanced lives and come back every morning ready to work. Kristy Fox said it "helps us be fast and fresh." It also helps them enjoy each others' company outside the workplace.

"We have a blast together," Kristy Fox said. "We do a lot of things outside of work, which encourages a great working relationship. : We dance a lot together."

Scott Fox said a staff that likes working together is as important as fresh ingredients.

"Customers love to see that," he said.

While preparing an Asian chicken salad - one of several light and cool Freshies salads that tend to be popular summer options - Jen Yanotti said her favorite part of the job is the people she works with.

"Pretty much that's it," she said while mixing ingredients such as chopped romaine lettuce, noodles, ginger, cilantro, crisp veggies and sweet chili sauce. "And we make an awesome product. I'm proud to be a part of it."

The staff of Freshies is proud to say that they're not in to all that "cheffy stuff."

"We just like to provide a product that's simple and fresh and good and really not all that hard to make," Scott Fox said.

"We try to find the freshest, highest-quality, natural ingredients and prepare them in a creative way," Kristy Fox added.

It's a winning combination that hasn't gotten old, even for the employees who spend several hours a day preparing the food.

"I still come here on my day off," Yanotti said. "Every time I go out somewhere else I'm kind of disappointed."

It's also a combination that has attracted offers to open additional locations, but the Foxes aren't interested.

"That's not our goal," Scott Fox said. "Our goal is to work here and surround ourselves with strong, capable people."

Jen's Chicken and Asian Chicken salads recipes

Jen's Chicken Salad

2 cups pecans

2 cups Craisins

1 bunch scallions (diced)

4 quarts diced white chicken

4 cups mayonnaise

salt and pepper (to taste)

Mix all ingredients in bowl. Serve over fresh arugula bread or on toasted wheat bread with lettuce and tomato.

Asian Chicken Salad

8 boneless skinless chicken breast (5 ounces each) pounded to even thickness

1 cup sweet soy sauce (available at specialty food stores)

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

3 ribs celery, cut into small strips

1 red bell pepper, cut into small strips

1/3 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

½ cup toasted sesame oil

½ cup soy sauce

½ cup mirin

1 (1/2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

chopped lettuce

udon noodles, cooked

chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

pickled ginger (optional)

Marinate the chicken in the sweet soy sauce in a sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for two hours. Mix together the carrot, celery, bell pepper and cilantro. Preheat the grill. Drain the chicken, discarding the marinade. Place the chicken on a grill rack and grill for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Cool and cut into thin strips. Combine with the vegetables in a bowl. Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin and grated ginger in a bowl. Pour over the chicken mixture and toss to coat. Serve on a bed of chopped lettuce and udon noodles. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and pickled ginger.

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