True Grit: The Wild Side of Bill White

By Vanessa Conabee

A restaurateur returns to his roots.

A whole lot of goodness is growing behind the fence at the corner of Hwy 224 and Bear Hollow Drive—150 chickens, 20 turkeys, three greenhouses, several outdoor gardens, apple and cherry orchards, beehives, a fish pond and hydroponic gardens, where heirloom tomatoes and other hothouse vegetables thrive at 8,000 feet year-round.

Legendary restaurateur Bill White has gone back to his roots with Bill White Farms—his parents were farmers in Michigan. White’s own farm is more about sustainability and education than raising food for his restaurants. Actually, it’s the restaurants that fuel the farm—several times a week huge loads of compostable scraps arrive to nourish the farm’s chickens and augment its compost trays, where worms create nutritious soil to fertilize the crops which provide fodder for the fish. It’s a near utopia for friends and visitors, including groups of preschoolers who enjoy digging for worms and local gardening clubs that attend demonstrations on canning and preserving. 

In addition to building greenhouses, gardens and cargo-container trout farms, White has renovated the existing farmhouse and outbuildings—a hodge-podge of former shacks from the infamous Mother Urban’s brothels—into an elegant setting for private dinners and events featuring the latest in innovative fresh farm-to-table dining.

The entire operation is supported by the success (and compostable refuse) of White’s six Park City restaurants and bakery—Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Windy Ridge Café, Sushi Blue, Ghidotti’s, Billy Blanco’s and Windy Ridge Bakery. Private dinners beneath the shade of an ancient cottonwood allow for more experimentation featuring sustainable foods. And a seasonal cocktail followed by a dinner sourced from the farm might just inspire diners to embark on their own gardens.

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Vanessa Conabee
Vanessa Conabee
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