“I wanted to go to art school when I was younger, but then I started cooking and found my passion for art in the kitchen. From flavors and smells to moving through the kitchen and plating, so rewarding when it all comes together.”
Born and raised in Colorado, Bill got his culinary training through working with the great chefs of Napa’s most prestigious restaurants, including Bouchon and Auberge du Soleil. The call of the Rocky Mountains finally brought this avid snowboarder, camper, and Broncos fan back home, where, as Larkspur’s chef de cuisine, he now brings his love of exceptional food to the Vail Valley
“When it comes to creating new concepts and showcasing delicious cuisine, I find it very satisfying to take a guest’s vision and exceed all expectations.”
After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington with BBA in marketing, Aaron got his professional start in hospitality through working the front offices of fine hotels. He quickly worked his way up, first to group coordinator of sales, then conference services. In 2011, a stint at Aspen’s Food & Wine Festival evolved into Aaron winning the director of catering role at Hotel Jerome, a job he held for four years, and where he discovered his dual passions: the excitement of event planning, and the inspiring beauty of Rocky Mountain life.
Internationally trained chef and restaurateur, Thomas Salamunovich hasn’t limited his culinary identity. From elegant, refined Larkspur Restaurant to quick‐casual Larkburger, Thomas is comfortable as long as he’s creating authentic fare. Appearing on several national television shows such as CBS This Morning and The Today Show, his passion for great food is enthusiastically shared. Both a graduate and instructor of the California Culinary Academy, he continued his education in San Francisco during the West Coasts’s food revolution. Under the tutelage of Jeremiah Towers at Stars and Wolfgang Puck, Thomas developed his passion for New American cuisine. On a year-long French tour he worked and studied in the kitchens of Michelin three-star rated restaurants l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges under Paul Bocuse and Lucas Carton in Parais, two-star restaurant Elysee Lenôtre in Paris, and world-renowned bakery, Poilane Boulangerie.
In 1993, Thomas moved to Vail to become the Executive Chef of Sweet Basil, and designed and opened Zino Ristorante in Edwards a few years later. He and his wife, Nancy Sweeney opened Larkspur in 1999. The energetic bar and graceful dining room are known as much for the atmosphere as for the menu, which elevates regional American fare. In 2002, Thomas created Silver Sage and Summer Thyme restaurants for Red Sky Golf Club, one of the premier mountain golf experiences in North America.
Fall of 2005 brought the opening of fast‐casual Larkburger, a new concept born from the popular bar item at Larkspur. Natural, organic, and eco‐friendly, Larkburger quickly built a loyal following in the Vail Valley and has now expanded to 11 additional locations. In 2008, Thomas was invited to create the food & beverage program including weddings, banquet operations, in-room dining, pool and spa dining services and a market for the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain. Social and posh, Restaurant Avondale’s stylish interior and welcoming ambiance provided a popular haven for Vail Valley residents and guests alike.
“I love to learn anything and everything about food, and today, with so many innovative cooking techniques and ideas available, there’s always more knowledge to gain. But most of all, I love making people happy and leaving them wanting to try more of what I make.”
A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Paula worked in fine restaurants in her home state of New York (as well as Providence, Rhode Island and London, England) before finding her way to Larkspur in 2013. As much as she loves the mountain lifestyle and all it has to offer, Paula also loves traveling, and eating as much as possible when she’s doing it.
Rafal Konka, Larkspur’s Managing Director, has an intrinsic gift of perception. Whether helping to determine the best choice of wine, or graciously visiting at the end of the meal, Rafal touches every guest with genuine hospitality.
He believes hospitality is in his roots, Rafal relates well to all individuals from his guests to his staff. He enjoys building teams and relies upon this skill to create a unified staff that effortlessly extends hospitality to others.
Known for its warm ambiance and contemporary American cuisine, Larkspur has found strength at the helm with Rafal. His goal for the future of the company is to exceed the expectations of every guest. Passion for his profession and concentrated knowledge of food, wine and service, Rafal is a winning combination that promises guests memorable experiences at Larkspur.