Growing up in Florida, Chef Josh Stanton opted to join the Navy directly out of high school. After being medically discharged, Stanton picked up a job washing dishes… and discovered his true passion. “I fell in love with the camaraderie of the kitchen,” he says. “I knew I had to pursue a culinary profession.”

That spark, that momentum of finding a true calling, led him to work for Murphy’s Grill in Florida. “I had the privilege of working with Mr. Larry Murray who shared all of his grandmother’s recipes from Louisiana,” says Stanton. “It was steeped in southern comfort with lots of seafood flair.” The mentorship education he received in those early days was the start of a 13-year culinary journey.

“I worked my way up from humble greasy spoon diners to fine dining establishments,” says Stanton. But it was in the world of fine dining that he found his true calling. “There is a challenge to crafting dishes that harmonize diverse ingredients and flavor profiles,” he says.

Stanton’s flavor profiles tend toward the romantic cuisines of France, Italy, and Spain. During his time in Florida, Stanton had the opportunity to work under some world-class chefs including Alan Heckman at Pogo’s Kitchen. Here he was able to take a deep dive into the traditions of French cuisine – and build his love of French food.

He also had the unique opportunity to collaborate with Leonardo Batali, utilizing his mother’s cherished starter recipes. This honed his love of all things Italian. Paired with the rich culinary landscape in Florida, influenced by Spanish, Mexican, and Latino flavors, the trifecta was complete. “These experiences and influences left a lasting imprint on my culinary style,” says Stanton.

As much as his profession has led him to new experiences, so has his family. Chef Stanton’s journey eventually landed him in the McCall area where his wife’s family lives. “We felt the move was timely as we are expecting a son this winter,” says Stanton. “We wanted to be closer to family.”

With the move to Idaho, the stars aligned for Stanton when he was hired at Hotel Nobo in Cascade. “I was actually hired in a different position to start, but as fate would have it my first day was the chef’s last day,” he says. “It was really a perfect opportunity to take the reins in the kitchen and be a part of something great at Checkpoint.”

The freedom to be creative is something Stanton doesn’t take for granted. “If you could spend a minute in my head,” he laughs, “it is a constant stream of ideas and new things to try.” But his approach starts with the basics. “I like to start with a traditional base and then see how far out of bounds I can go without breaking it.” He also spends a lot of time garnering feedback from guests and the community, asking questions, and listening to feedback.

“That is really how you grow and keep the momentum going,” he says. “You have to listen to the people around you, and be a part of the community.” It is that sense of purpose, that momentum that propelled him down this path in the first place, that will keep us coming back to sample all of Chef Stanton’s delicious ideas.

 

What is your favorite thing to eat at YOUR restaurant?

Definitely the Primavera. It is just such a good, classic dish.

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?

I do a lot with tarragon. I just love the licorice flavor and the smell is amazing.

 

What is something you love to make at home?

My wife is Italian, so we make a lot of Italian dishes at home. It’s perfect for those rainy or snowy days. I like to keep it kind of simple at home.

 

What is the first thing you remember cooking?

My mom taught me to make scrambled eggs when I was six. Yeah. I remember going crazy with garlic salt and this and that – sometimes they were edible, and sometimes they weren’t.

When I was 14, I came up with a dish that I affectionately call “preferito di mama” because it is my mom’s favorite. It’s a seared chicken, cut off the bone and cooked with a brick on top so it’s nice and flat and crispy. I serve it with a wheat pasta, sunflower seeds, olive oil, squash or zucchini, and some herbs. It’s a simple dish, but my mom loves it. It is still the one thing she always asks me to make.