From the hurry of Highway 191, I turn into the parking lot of the Market at Ferguson Farm, where Jarrett Schwartz, along with Blane and Ellie Woodfin, has opened both Foxtrot, a fast-casual modern diner, and Tanglewood, an American bistro that serves “food for the people.” The space I enter features concrete, wood, and metal. Light floods over wood tables topped with marble and heavy with metal. Bar-height stools along the window look onto an outdoor patio. Splashes of red shout from the retro Foxtrot logo. A reverberating techno jazz beat moves me to the order window of Foxtrot’s large RV-like kiosk. The chin-height counter makes me feel like a kid as I look up at the menu and consider its dance-themed sandwiches: the Two-Step and the Charleston.
Adjacent Foxtrot is Tanglewood. After walking past the giant gnarled juniper wood sculpture by Tom Benedict prominently displayed in the restaurant’s foyer, windows lead my eyes out to the Big Sky landscape. When I refocus on the room, the thirty-two wine taps and ten beer and cider taps behind the long wood bar dominate my view.
Jarrett Schwartz greets me wearing a brown twill apron. With curly brown hair, a gentle smile, and a dragon tattoo on his left arm, he personifies the restaurant’s character—“A community-focused, casual restaurant that offers a thoughtful yet simple menu in a relaxed environment.” His laid-back demeanor is not what I expected from the chef honored by Food and Wine in 2006 for a Best New Restaurant (Mizu in Jackson, Wyoming) and by Outside Magazine in 2008 as the top “High Roller” for his restaurant Blu-Kitchen (also in Jackson). Growing up in South Jersey, Schwartz learned food early in his life from his caterer mother and fisher grandmother, who taught him how to hook sea trout, flounder, and blue fish. “I have filleted fish since I was four years old,” Schwartz shares.
His pursuit of a psychology degree led him to Colorado State University. After graduating, he funded his skiing and mountain biking by cooking at Angel’s Rest, a barbecue joint in Breckenridge. In the late 90s, he cooked at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City. There, he worked with the exacting chef Joe Sayer, who, Schwartz says, “was into technique and taught me how to make sauces.”
Schwartz’s sushi career began under the tutelage of Mike Aguilar at Mikado and Kampai in Park City. After working at the Happy Sumo in Park City for a year, the head chef ’s sudden departure put Schwartz in charge. In 2003, an offer to open Nikai along with a “free place to live and free skiing” lured him to Jackson. In ensuing years, he launched Mizu, Sudachi, Blu-Kitchen, and the Kitchen before becoming a private chef and consultant in 2012. Of this last job, he says, “I really honed my skills,” leading to his philosophy that good cooking comes from fresh food and good technique. It’s a philosophy he wants to share. Schwartz’s enthusiasm amplifies when he speaks of training his team. He tells his staff , “I want you to be able to open your own restaurant in five years.”
But right now the chef with the dragon tattoo is breathing fire on Tanglewood’s offerings. The menu highlights Schwartz’s Asian grounding in the steamed blue mussels in a hot and sour broth and the General Tso’s cauliflower, while the grilled local pork chop from Summit Valley Farms in Whitehall and the Tanglewood burger made with McFarland White Ranch beef from Two Dot showcase Big Sky bounty.