A little style on the menu | TheUnion.com

A little style on the menu

The Grass Valley Elks Lodge has served the community for a century. Now the lodge is trying to fuse its historic past with a more contemporary future – starting with a new chef in the kitchen.

“A lot of these fraternal organizations are just not growing,” said John Zurflueh, the lodge’s events coordinator.

Although the number of lodge members has decreased over the years, the number of events at the lodge has increased, Zurflueh said. In past years, the Grass Valley Elks Lodge has been a popular place for anniversaries, auctions, banquets and receptions – to name a few uses for the venerable building.

“We felt in order to have some good contemporary foods and be able to compete with other venues in the area, we needed to hire a permanent chef,” Zurflueh said.

At age 17, Lori Larsen became passionate about cooking. For the past 30 years, Larsen has been in and out of kitchens across California. Many of her past kitchen adventures have been at local restaurants, such as Cirino’s, The Holbrooke Hotel and Hollywood Sweets. The kitchen in the Grass Valley Elks Lodge has proved to be entirely new affair for Larsen.

“It’s very different (working with volunteers), because I can’t come down on them like I would in a restaurant setting,” Larsen said. “Not coming from a culinary background is also a little difficult for them, but they’re all very accomplished and motivated to be helpful.”

Another aspect that intrigues the former pastry chef is the lodge’s non-profit status.

“Working for a non-profit organization is really nice because all of the proceeds go back into the community,” Larsen said.

Much of Larsen’s delicious inspiration comes from her European travels with her husband.

“My husband goes to Europe twice a month on business, and it’s a great opportunity for me to travel,” Larsen said. “Europe has really influenced my cooking.”

The accomplished chef has pulled from a smorgasbord of European countries, including the United Kingdom, Scotland, England, Belgium, Holland and France.

“I don’t have a set menu,” Larsen said. “I like to sit down with my clients and customize a menu for their tastes. I like to make everything from scratch. It’s just good home cooking with fancy desserts.”

For more information about the Grass Valley Elks Lodge contact John Zurflueh, events coordinator at 273-8342.

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