Taste of Truckee: Chef Lew Orlady

The Lodge Restaurant & Pub in Tahoe Donner

At the kitchen’s helm of The Lodge Restaurant & Pub in Tahoe Donner, is chef Lew Orlady. Orlady helped open the restaurant 12 years ago and has been serving families delicious, sophisticated dishes in a laid-back atmosphere ever since.

If you asked him what he wanted to be growing up, he wouldn’t have said a chef; it wasn’t until college that he became interested in cooking.

“I was studying nutrition and dietetics in college and found a job in the restaurant business. It was more fun than working in hospitals; I was so drawn to the culture of restaurants,” he reminisced.

Over his career, chef Orlady has cooked his way through New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, and of course, Lake Tahoe, where he says he particularly likes the challenge of creating resort cuisine that is upscale without being stuffy.

“Our cooking style is based on classic French technique, but here you’re also going to get a nice sized portion of whatever you order, I’ve always believed in that,” the chef said.

With such a vast knowledge of the culinary arts, we wanted to get down to exactly what the chef’s favorite flavors are.

When we asked what he would choose to eat for the rest of his life if it were the only food left in the world, he said, “It would probably have to be fish. White fish…like sea bass. I like it a lot of different ways, but my favorite would be a fish burrito.”

To make chef Orlady’s favorite meal, he said, “You just put a little rice, spinach, pico, avocado and grilled bass in a tortilla and roll it up!” The fish burrito is closely followed by kale and chicken salad for this chef’s go-to meals at home.

For other home cooks, we wanted to ask the pro what he would suggest as one of the most important tips that anyone cooking in any kitchen should know.

“Whether you’re cooking a holiday roast, pork, prime rib, tenderloin, anything – all you need is some kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. You can grind your peppercorns in a coffee grinder or even in the blender, but they must be fresh. That’s all you need for all meats instead of all of those rubs and spice blends. Save the rubs for ribs and brisket.”

Lightning Question Round

Sweet or Savory?: Sweet

Favorite Fruit?: Berries

Favorite Protein?: Fish

Favorite Healthy Snack?: Fish

Favorite Indulgence?: Cheese. But not just any cheese. Good cheese. Triple crème.

What’s one dish you could make blindfolded, with one arm tied behind your back?: Soups.

Can you tell us about a cooking disaster in your career?: The first time I tried to cook live lobster. I had the timing all wrong and cooked it to death. They were liquid.

What is one of your cooking inventions?: Fish burrito.  

The Menu:

“The menu is very family-friendly, just take a look at where we are, Tahoe is so family-friendly in general,” chef Orlady said.

His philosophy is to consistently curate a bistro-style menu with plenty of variety for everyone in the family to enjoy after a long day on the slopes.  

Dishes from his menu showcase braised proteins, include a different starch side dish to hold its own with each entrée, feature homemade pastas and a new fresh fish option daily, small plates for sharing, and most importantly, a wide variety of options to satisfy any craving.

The Lodge Menu Online

The Atmosphere:

The Lodge Restaurant & Pub features a vibrant bar scene in addition to their delicious signature dishes. The family-friendly atmosphere welcomes guests right inside the gorgeous building where they will receive top-notch service.

The Lodge staff work seamlessly together; they treat each other like family and the sentiment trickles all the way from the kitchen to the front of house staff and to the guests who stop in for dinner.

Families can feel welcomed bringing their children, friends and loved ones to enjoy an upscale dinner that is still approachable, created by locals who are all about delivering delicious flavors and healthy portion sizes.