Rasberrys: A Family Affair

By / Photography By Paulette Phlipot | March 01, 2014
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Callie and Maeme Rasberry, owners of the Rasberrys restaurants in Ketchum and Hailey

Growing up as twins, Callie and Maeme Rasberry, owners of the Rasberrys restaurants in Ketchum and Hailey, have always felt that working together seemed natural. After Texas childhoods, the two went to the same college, studied business, and then, in 1998, moved to the Wood River Valley within months of each other. Now, during the day the two cook up local, eclectic food in their twin restaurants and in the evening cater weddings and dinner parties.

Though neither Maeme nor Callie went to culinary school, their love of cooking and the delight they get from experimenting with new dishes has helped them successfully open and run their own catering business and two cozy lunch spots over the past 15 years. Though they’ve spent time living elsewhere, some of it abroad, the siblings quickly grew roots in the Wood River Valley and have found their niche in the local food scene.

After working at Esta’s and the Cottonwood Deli in Ketchum in the early 2000s, the duo bought Cottonwood in 2005 and continued selling packaged food in Atkinsons’ Markets under the “Cottonwood by Rasberrys” name before transitioning into their own catering brand. The restaurants were a natural next step when friends began stopping by to grab a bite to eat before catering events. Rasberrys opened its doors in the basement of Ketchum’s 411 Building in late 2005. Five years later, they expanded to their Main Street location in Hailey. The sisters have developed a knack for creating menus that include something for everyone, from sandwiches piled high with meat to vegan and vegetarian daily specials like the asparagus sandwich and the minestrone soup. “I just think about things I like and try them out together,” Callie explains. “You can’t be scared of cooking. You just have to enjoy it and slowly learn.”

Both the Ketchum and Hailey restaurants feel quirky, with distressed windows lined with Christmas lights illuminating the basement location in Ketchum and vintage mirrors adorning the walls in the Hailey location. Walking into Rasberrys in Hailey, I’m greeted by the rich smell of something bubbling on the stove; vintage artwork decorates the walls, and the deli case is filled with elegantly frosted desserts and bright, fresh vegetables. Soft acoustic music plays in the background; it feels like I could settle down and relax here for hours. Callie and Maeme both work in Hailey on Saturdays, and they’re bustling around, answering the phone, changing up the deli case, and tending to whatever is giving off that delicious smell from the kitchen.

“Our brains are on 24 hours a day,” Callie says with a sigh and a smile. “It’s fun, though. It’s worth it. It’s really a joy. It can be stressful, but hey, it keeps your blood flowing.”

Catering everything from dinner parties of eight to weddings of 250, the Rasberrys work with customers to come up with new menus all the time, always relying on the food itself to provide the flavor. “So much processing goes into a lot of food,” Callie says emphatically, “and you really don’t need that many ingredients. I love my herbs and try to use whatever sounds good and whatever’s on hand.”

The sisters like to use everything they can when they cook, turning old bread into breadcrumbs for crab cakes or slow cooking chicken bones to make a nutrient-rich and flavorful bone broth. Recently, Maeme has been experimenting with gluten-free and paleo dishes down in Hailey, makes her own kombucha and, “for fun,” has also gotten into making shrub syrups, a method of fruit preservation that was popular before refrigeration. Of course, summer finds Maeme out in the garden behind the Hailey restaurant (“She’s definitely got my dad’s green thumb,” Callie says appreciatively), tending to seeds from the local Sawtooth Botanical Garden.

Constantly experimenting and trying new ideas, the Rasberrys’ food also has an old-fashioned, wholesome feel, if occasionally borrowing dishes from distant cuisines. “The day’s not complete without beans and rice,” Maeme jokes, and the house favorites include the “Ol’ El Paso,” a smoked pork sandwich, and traditional Mexican posole soup. “Food reverence,” the Rasberrys’ tagline, “is about making food fresh, and really respecting your food,” Callie says. “We try to use the fewest ingredients but still have lots of flavor in our dishes. It’s just cleaner and fresher and lets the food speak for itself.”

315 South Main St., Hailey ID • 208.928.7711
411 E 5th St. Ketchum, ID • 208.726.0606

Article from Edible Idaho at http://edibleidaho.ediblecommunities.com/eat/rasberrys-family-affair
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