See What’s Cookin with Head Chef Rosie Gutierrez

Fun fact… Did you know the Top Hat is an all female-led crew? This gal has been bringing some serious heat to our kitchen since joining us in 2019, and we’re so grateful for her dedication, hard work, and positive attitude. Meet Rosie Gutierrez, the Top Hat’s Head Chef, travel enthusiast, and all-around awesome person!

We sat down with Rosie to learn more about her love for cooking, favorite menu items, kitchen influences and more. Take a look below and learn all about the Top Hat’s woman behind the menu.

When did you start at the Top Hat?

I started at the Top Hat August of 2019, after Moving to Missoula.

The Top Hat kitchen crew seems like a tight-knit community. What is your favorite way to engage in team bonding at the Top Hat?

Definitely are! Down in the kitchen mostly, we have what we’ve deemed as “Family Dinner” a couple times a month. We sit and have a meal together at someone’s house and play games. We sometimes  like to discuss concerns in the kitchen and new ideas about food. There is also a lot of pool played during the week.

How did you first discover your love for cooking and blending tastes? How did you get into cooking and why did you choose to become a head chef?

I’ve been cooking since I was a kid. I loved being in the kitchen with my family; A lot of family time was centered around meals. I come from a very large family and big family dinners. I learned a lot about cooking from my Nana and Mom; As an adult, we would have many discussions about new and old family recipes and watch numerous cooking shows. From there I’ve enjoyed learning from and cooking with my girlfriend and friends; trying new things and talking about food.

I took my first real kitchen job as a junior in high school and have worked in restaurants ever since. I’ve held almost every position back to front. For me, becoming a Head Chef was just the next step; a new opportunity to grow and learn a different side of the restaurant business. Partnering with my girlfriend, I aspire to own my own catering / commercial kitchen in the future.

In what ways do the culture and community of Missoula influence your recipes. Does it have an influence?

Living in Missoula has been a wonderful experience. I grew up in Reno, NV surrounded by many different cultures and cuisines. After relocating here, I’ve been ambitious to bring the flavors I grew up with to the Missoula community. Living here has also challenged me to expand on the things I’m not familiar with; Cooking for dietary restrictions, such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. 

What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever made? 

When I was 9, I tried to make pasta for the first time; I talked my Nana into letting me make dinner for the family by myself. Looking back it was so terrible! I made fettuccini, and the end product was thick and weird but they were all good sports and ate it anyway. Since then my pasta skills have gotten much much better.

Do you have any recommendations for an aspiring chef?

From what I’ve experienced so far in my time as Chef, I would say learn from your crew and if something scares you do it anyway; Good or bad, it’ll be a learning experience.

Also I would tell them to travel. Traveling to different places outside of your community can give you great insight and inspiration in creating recipes. I love to check out the food scene wherever I go and try new things, especially things I’ve never heard of before.

You’ve been at the Top Hat for a few years now. What is your best memory while being part of the crew?  

The random employee hangouts on the river. During the summer there is always a random crew floating and sometimes subsequent dinner and drinks to follow.

In what ways do you feel The Top Hat is a unique place to dine?

I think the atmosphere we have (casual upscale dining), paired with an almost completely scratch gastro pub kitchen. I think that’s pretty unique for Missoula.

If you could cook for any celebrity, who would it be and what would you make for them?

I’d make Chicken Saltimbocca for Joe Bastianich (American restaurateur, winemaker, author, television personality, and musician).

 If you could only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

That’s definitely a tough choice. It would be a toss up between Mexican or Southern, maybe even a fusion of the two. I consider Mexican food as my soul food. It invokes great memories cooking with my Nana and Mom and sitting around a loaded table with my family.

 If you could design your dream kitchen, what would it look like and what features would it have?

It would be wide open with a large pantry and walk in coolers. It would have all the basic necessities, prep tables and shelving, broilers, flat top grill, fryers, and stove top. I would definitely like a stacked oven and a water spout over the stove to fill pots. Multiple outlets on all the walls would be a must. 

What’s your favorite ingredient to work with and why?

Slow roasted meats. The flavors that can be infused into proteins in the slow cooking process to me are incomparable and so versatile. Plus it has taught me it is worth it to be very patient for the end product.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not at work?

Off the clock, I enjoy time at home to unwind. I also enjoy time on the mountain snowboarding or on the river during the warmer months. My girlfriend and I also enjoy traveling… mostly long road trips exploring the U.S. and trying new foods and experiences.

What are your favorite menu items, past or present? What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why? 

We ran a Bourbon BBQ Pork Belly dish that was insanely good. Favorite menu dish to prepare would possibly be curry. I’ve personally loved eating curry of all kinds and love the aromatics that go into making it.

Favorite drink?

Old Fashion for sure. Definitely something that’s easy to sip.

Favorite movie?

All time for me would definitely be Fight Club. Both the book and movie are great; Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors.

Favorite concert?

Hands down getting to see Tegan and Sara perform. I’ve been listening to them since I was a freshman in college. I took my Mom with me to see them perform live in 2009 in Los Angeles; and subsequently two more times in the Reno / Tahoe area.

If you want to experience the magic of Rosie’s chef skills for yourself, come and visit the Top Hat! From learning how to cook with her family to honing her skills in many restaurants, Rosie has become an amazing Head Chef. Come taste the delicious cuisine she creates, and see for yourself why the Top Hat is one of Missoula’s best restaurants. You might get a chance to experience Rosie’s skills at KettleHouse Amphitheater’s concessions this summer too. Stay tuned!

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