Contact UsStanford Sierra Conference Center
P.O. Box 10618
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158 Physical Address:
130 Fallen Leaf Road
Fallen Leaf, CA 96150
Dave Dennis is the Food & Beverage Director/Executive Chef for Stanford Sierra Conference Center, a position he has held for 26 of his 27 years here. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Dave worked for various French restaurants in the Sacramento area before joining Stanford Sierra.Dave is responsible for everything that happens at Stanford Sierra related to food and beverage. Dave designs custom menus for each group during our spring and fall seasons, and he orders all the food staying within budget. Dave prepares most of the food, and relies on two assistant chefs, Tara and Katie, and a pastry chef to manage the day-to-day cooking duties. Dave, Tara and Katie manage a staff of up to 15 working in the kitchen. Dave puts together the daily schedule for the staff, trains and supervises all of the kitchen staff plus an additional manager and crew for the dining room. According to Dave the best thing about his job is the wealth of great products and the great coworkers he works with on a daily basis. Dave also commented "There are not a whole lot of boundaries here. This allows me to explore eclectic foods along with various ethnicities, and it keeps the job exciting because I am not constrained. The clientele varies within each conference season and within the summer family camp, which makes my job both interesting and challenging. In the summer season it's much more than just family-camp style cuisine. It's become more upscale. Stanford alumni are requesting healthier and more interesting options. We offer many options and integrate as many organic and sustainable options as are available in our area." For the upcoming spring conference season, Dave plans to focus on Mediterranean cuisine with lots of fruits and vegetables being offered throughout the menus. Dave plans to use as much organic produce as possible, keeping things simple and fresh with limited ingredients. Dave prefers to bring out the flavor of say, wild salmon, with a few added flavors like lemon, versus a heavy, cream-based sauce. Dave also plans to incorporate more whole grains like quinoa and bulgur. We welcome any suggestions or requests for menus for your upcoming spring event!
One of my favorite job responsibilities is putting together our spring alumni programs. I get to collaborate with friendly and inspiring faculty and staff from Stanford, then participate in the programs when they happen here at Fallen Leaf Lake. Last week I headed to Palo Alto to meet with the creative teaching team for Creativity in the Wild. The team is headed by Tina Seelig. Tina has unbounded energy and I am so honored to work with her! She made us all jealous by talking about her recent meeting with singer, Jason Mraz. Tina is collaborating with Jason and other Warner Group musicians for an online class this spring, Creativity: Music to My Ears.Joining Tina for the Creative Camp are newcomers Elizabeth Bailey Weil and Justin Ferrell. Elizabeth was one of Twitter's first employees and now works at venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. In her free time, Elizabeth is an ultra-distance runner, and she was nice enough to slow down and let me join her for a run in the gorgeous hills of Portola Valley. (Coming from Tahoe, I did benefit from the abundance of oxygen at sea level!) I look forward to running the trails around Fallen Leaf Lake with Elizabeth during the retreat in April! Justin is an instructor at Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, better known as the d.school. Justin recently joined the d.school after working in journalism, most recently at the Washington Post where he was part of a Pullitzer-prize winning project. The meeting was my first with Justin and he is super nice and approachable. He is bringing his family along with him to the program in April, and they are all excited to visit Fallen Leaf Lake. Rounding out the d.school portion of the creative teaching team is return instructor Rich Cox. Rich has been a popular member of the teaching team for our alumni creative retreat for the past few years and his sessions always receive high reviews. Rich tends to sneak in some improv, and participants can't believe how much fun and non-threatening improv can be! Rich travels internationally for work, ask him about his stint in Turkey, helping the Turkish Olympic committee put together a bid to host the games! Tina, Elizabeth, Justin and Rich will bring the d.school methods to Creativity in the Wild. Past participants have commented that the skills they learned were easily transferable to both their personal and professional lives. Aleta Hayes, Stanford dance instructor, was also at the planning meeting. Each day of Creativity in the Wild Aleta will lead the group in a movement session to get everyone in the creative frame of mind. A comment from one of last year's participants describes it much better than I can: "I was not planning on liking the dance movement session so much and couldn't see its relevance before we got there. The creative "flow" and physicality of it was awesome for me. I tend to be really stuck in my head and not pay attention to my body and how opening it up can really help me personally, collaboratively, professionally, etc." The teaching team will lead workshops in the morning, afternoons are free for boating, hiking or photography sessions with two amazing professional photographers, Joel Simon and Mark Leibowitz. Evenings are for delicious dinners and fun activities including music hour in front of the Old Lodge fireplace, so bring your singing voice and/or instruments! Or you can just sit back and enjoy the scene with a glass of port. A few spaces remain for Creativity in the Wild. Email or call us if you have questions!
What does Stanford Sierra on the edge of Desolation Wilderness have in common with Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA? Both destinations lie near and dear to the heart of Doris Hanson Cooper, '79. Doris was a camp counselor for our Stanford alumni family camp during the summers of 1978 and 1979, and she now lives and works at the family's winery in Saratoga. In her job progression, Doris replaced her gorgeous setting on Fallen Leaf Lake for a beautiful view of winemaker emeritus' George Cooper's Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.Doris and her vintner husband Bill, will return to Stanford Sierra for our Memorial Weekend Program, May 23-26. Doris and Bill are excited to be a part of the program and share their limited production wines at one of the weekend's signature events, the wine pairing dinner! Annually, Cooper-Garrod produces around 3,000 cases of wine from 28 hillside vineyard acres on the western edge of Silicon Valley. All Cooper-Garrod wines are CCOF Certified organic and CSWA Certified Sustainable. If you like the idea of Farm to Fork, you'll love these wines Grapes to Glass! the winery offers varietal wines from their Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Syrah - plus the Test Pilot series of proprietary red wine blends which honor founding winemaker George Cooper, a retired NASA research test pilot. What distinguishes Cooper Garrod Estate winery from others? The 120-acre property has been in Bill's family since 1893, with five successive generations involved in agricultural pursuits, the vineyards and winery being the most recent. George's Vineyard was planted in 1972, although other plantings followed, it wasn't until 1994 you saw the Cooper-Garrod label in the marketplace. Many of the bottlings are less than 200 cases, so this is a wine producer you have to know about, instead of read about on the pages of a glossy magazine. The Cooper Garrod family and winery staff produce wines with the vision that you will relax with friends and share their wines around the dinner table. Join us on May 25 at Stanford Sierra to taste Cooper Garrod's delicious wines with Chef Dave's five-course paired menu! Here's to enjoying a glass of Cabernet Franc on the deck overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake this Memorial Weekend - Cheers!