The gargantuan metal apparatus was custom-made for the kitchen. Mixing seemingly incongruous rustic and elegant elements, the 14-foot-long grill is the centerpiece, both aesthetically and spiritually, of the restaurant. The four adjustable grilling stations and the 500-degree smoker in the center are visible from the dining area and all feature exclusively wood-fired heat. No gas. No electric. Just as it should be in a restaurant named Firewood.
John Murcko is Firewood’s chef and owner. He opened the establishment at the end of 2016 after a prolific career that helped shape Park City’s dining scene. His first job after moving to Park City in the early 1990s was as a pastry chef at the Goldener Hirsch. “It was a challenge to learn how pastries worked at 8,000 feet, but it was an amazing experience with a lot of artistic freedom,” Murcko says. He then worked with famed area restaurateur Bill White before ultimately striking out on his own, working with Talisker and a group from the Grand America Hotel to open and oversee more than 20 restaurants in Park City and Sun Valley—Talisker on Main and The Farm to name a couple. “It was an amazing journey where I gained so much knowledge,” Murcko says. But ultimately, he wanted to start a restaurant to highlight his passion.
“I have this remote place in Escalante. It’s so far in the national forest there are no electricity or gas lines, so your only option is to cook over fire or propane. It’s so beautiful there I always wanted to cook outside, so I built these huge pits with grills, dutch ovens and rotisseries and where we could bury vegetables in the coals. In the fall I’d have other chefs come down and we’d spend days cooking over wood. The food and the experience were incredible, and I started to dream of how I could scale the experience commercially. That’s Firewood,” Murcko explains.
Everything hot at Firewood is cooked over wood. There are two induction burners for keeping sauces warm, but even those are made with wood-burning heat. “We’ll even put hot coals inside of oils to create these one-of-a-kind flavors,” Murcko says. It makes for a challenging environment, but that’s helped cultivate an incredible staff. “It’s definitely hot in there, and you start each shift carrying four tubs of firewood to the kitchen. But truly passionate cooks and people who want to learn continuously are drawn to it,” he explains.
We’ve gotten this far without mentioning the menu, which is as much a nod to Murcko’s methodology as it is an admission The cuts of meat, whether steaks, game birds or mountain trout are wonderful, but it’s the unique flavor profiles of something seemingly familiar that sets Firewood apart. Step inside, watch the team in action and taste for yourself.
Seasons Change and so Does the Menu
“I want the menu to reflect the rhythm of real life,” Murcko says of the ongoing menu evolution at Firewood. “We can be creative while still respecting traditions. In the summer our only game is bison, which is very lean, whereas in the fall and winter, when people typically go hunting and your body craves those richer, higher-fat meats, we have elk. For produce, we serve what’s in season at the local farmer’s market. Peas and morels in the spring, tomatoes and asparagus in the summer and more parsnips and rutabagas in the winter.”
306 Main St., 435-252-9900, firewoodonmain.com
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