Benefitting the National Ability Center, Katie Eldridge hosts a cozy dinner party in her snowbound Brighton Estates cabin.
By Virginia Rainey, Photos by Darryl Dobson
Nestled in the woods, Eldridge’s Brighton Estates cabin awaits the evening’s dinner party.
Picture the inside of a vintage snow globe. Feathery flakes swirl around an A-frame cabin and a warm glow emanates from the windows as smoke curls from the chimney. Inside, a table laden with wine bottles and gleaming glasses sits at the ready.
But look closer and the nostalgic scene gives way to a thoroughly modern sense of comfort and fun. All set for a party, a foot-high dinner table surrounded by big satiny pillows beckons guests to get comfortable on the floor. In the background, a talented tattooed chef is hard at work in the open kitchen.
That was the scene at Katie Eldridge’s lovingly renovated cabin in Brighton Estates on a blustery night last March. Owner of Panic Button Media in Park City, Eldridge is a part-time resident of this remote neighborhood located about two miles from Guardsman Pass. There, winter means the only modes of transportation are snowcats and snowmobiles, and watchful neighbors are the most precious commodity.
All were employed for the dinner Eldridge hosted as a fundraiser for the National Ability Center (NAC)—a Park City nonprofit known globally for supporting and enabling the dreams of people with disabilities and making it possible for them to engage in all kinds of sports. Most NAC benefit dinners (there are several, all on the same evening) are staged in palatial settings around Park City. This one, geared to the more adventurous NAC donors, unfolded in a 900-square-foot space.
The party’s set-up crew hikes into Brighton Estates, located in the mountains above Park City, Brighton and Midway.
Snow flurries flying, guests convened just off Guardsman. Some climbed into a compact snowcat, others hopped onto snowmobiles. About 25 minutes later, they all piled out into knee-deep snow and stomped into the cozy cabin. Vintners Jason and Suzanne McConnell of Rivino Winery were already settled in, ready to pour their wines, all donated to the cause. Rivino, a boutique winery in Mendocino, produces only about 2,000 cases a year.
After treating guests to fat, juicy strawberries sprinkled with cinnamon (surprisingly compatible with Rivino’s chardonnay), chef Asi Yoked of Park City’s Reef’s Restaurant served a gorgeous red snapper ceviche with mango, shallots, grape tomatoes and fresh ginger. Next up, white shrimp with watermelon and Bulgarian feta; filet mignon with a mild tomato “stew” and a fresh quail egg. Hot whiskey Malabi (a rich milk pudding) fortified each diner for the ride back to the Pass.
Guests dine at a low-sitting table that Eldridge’s neighbor built using aspen trunks for legs.
Bellies full, guests reluctantly headed back out into the night, back into the snowcat, back on the snowmobiles, back to a world made a little better through generosity and gracious entertaining.