Home on the Open Range

Graciously Serving you

Regena Ozeryansky  |   Sunday Nov. 30th, 2014

I recently moved to Bozeman, Montana just a few short months ago (via Yellowstone National Park) from an interesting town far, far away known as Miami. That’s right, Miami Florida. Much to my pleasant surprise, it’s been a beautiful, playful, growing adventure ever since I arrived. I began working at Open Range (hence the title to this month’s piece) shortly after arriving in Bozeman. This article/interview is the first in a series, a new spin on the traditional dining reviews brought to you in recent years. A new perspective, one from a new resident, and the other, much more important, a perspective from the Chef of each restaurant presented. We feel, that every reader should have the opportunity to form their own opinion of local restaurants, and by bringing the Chefs and Managers to you, the readers, we can create added synergy in an already awesome town.

Graciously Serving you, we welcome you to “Open Range” located on 241 East Main Street- Downtown Bozeman.
Regena Ozeryansky: What did you want to be when you grew up?  

Chef Jonathan Schuler: Well, at age 4 or 5, I knew I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. I’ve always loved water, and since I’ve [always] loved the show Flipper, it seemed like a natural fit. As I grew older, I moved onto thoughts of becoming a Lawyer which later manifested in me getting my undergraduate degree in Political Science & Economics.

RO: Why did you choose Food?   

Chef: My family background is restaurants. As the youngest of 4 kids, it wasn’t something I wanted to do, but seemed like it might happen despite my lack of interest in the restaurant business at the time. It wasn’t until I was 30 years old, that I actually starting thinking about the business. I found that food helped me make emotional connections and with memories, which I enjoyed. One of my dear friends as a kid, Michael, hunted on our family farm. He taught me early on how to butcher, hunt, & prepare wild game. So cooking paved the way for my interest in what’s known as the “Field To Table Movement” (the actual steps pre-farming). It’s what inspired the “Kill what you eat” (also known as humane hunting) movement.
RO: What do you like best about being a Chef?

Chef: I enjoy developing young Chefs, inspiring and helping them grow. “We” (The Team at Open Range) feel like Bozeman is ready for a New Era of dining which requires development of young chefs to fulfill the demand and help grow what (talent) is already here. By supporting MSU (the culinary program) & calling upon local talent in the community to expand their involvement, this naturally grows the industry. This then creates a ripple effect, and more involvement means creation of more opportunities for students; talent supporting the industry & vice versa. As Bozeman grows, more people create more opportunities, more restaurants, more mouths to feed, etc.
RO: What do you feel, if anything, has changed about you as a Chef over the years? Expanded/ Shifted, etc?  

Chef: (With a thoughtful Pause) The hardest thing to learn as chef, as well as a human, is patience. Patience to develop a dish, as well as to develop talent in the kitchen is critical. I didn’t have much as a young chef. Over the years, my understanding of variations in business, definitely has grown. (With a soft smile) My patience and confidence as a Chef has grown, for which I trust my team is grateful for.  

RO: If there was anything about the restaurant industry you could change, what would it be?

Chef: The first thing that comes to mind is that this is a trade that requires lots of hard work, unfortunately at low pay, and in order to master the craft, as true of any trade, it takes time. It’s alarming to me that people go thousands in debt and will come out of school with anticipation of immediate gratification. Elders are not being honest about the sacrifice it takes to get somewhere in the business. It’s definitely not impossible, but challenging to accept how people can be dishonest to the students. I feel it’s vital for community programs to be accessible and available to help provide master training with an affordable price tag. Europe is a great example of what’s possible, and in the States there’s a large disconnect in the trade system. Seems many schools are fleecing the students, and I feel we can do better. Gallatin Valley Community College does a great job to fill the gap, and shows a nice example of good training at an affordable cost.

RO: Are there any trends you see relevant in the industry that you feel guests can enjoy more of if they knew about? (In other words) what should/could guests expect to look for to create better experience for themselves at restaurants?

Chef: I’m not a preachy guy or chef, people come to Bozeman from everywhere, all over the world. As educated guests/consumers, with resources like the Travel Channel, etc. there’s much available to most consumers these days. I am my own toughest critic, and I do my best to serve people what I would like.
RO: Why this Restaurant? Why Open Range?

Chef: World Class Experience. I really respect the owners, Jay & Mary from the Mint Belgrade, very much. This to me, is the nicest location thus far in Bozeman, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity.

RO: What do you want guests to experience when they come to the restaurant?

: As my Grandfather used to say “Don’t give people what they want, give more than what they knew to expect.” My goal is to provide good food, and surprise people too.     
RO: Do you believe Food is something everyone has potential talent for or no? What advice would you give someone who wants to learn?

: Yes, everyone has the ability to be a good cook. Not everyone has the same level of talent though. In my own family, I have a sister and brother who are good cooks, but don’t have the same taste memory and palette as my other sister and I do. If one develops the skills, the inspiration can be found.

: What’s most important for you to share with the readers & why?

: Team - We! We! We! Lion share, I try my best to give support & offer some direction to allow the team to shine.  
Bonus Question -  

: What do you like best about Bozeman?

Chef: Getting out into the wilderness within 15 minutes is important to me & my wife, Nina. We moved here almost 2 years ago, now have Levi (6 month old son). When in the streets, people stop and speak with you, they seem to care. The people are open & pretty terrific. We really feel privileged to live here.  
A few words from the Manager of Open Range, Josh Hohm
RO: Why Open Range?

JH: By far the best opportunity to be involved in this industry in town, I’m looking at the long term and not going anywhere away from Bozeman.
RO: Best about Bozeman…

JH: It has everything I need, except family who comes to visit often. Easy to be comfortable and have good life here.  One of the best places to live in the US- beautiful, playground- I never plan on leaving!!!  
RO: What do you want Bozeman readers/guests to know about the Range?

JH: For us, it’s not just about going out to dinner, here we make experiences, from our ambiance, to the building, the great service, the craft bar program, etc. It’s all sooo important to how we make guests feel. It’s about establishing relationships, not just eating out. Knowing faces and names! For us, it’s truly an experience (with tinkled eyes, says Josh). We do our best to support local community, buying local, and supporting them as they’ve supported us!  

Open Range
241 East Main
Downtown Bozeman
406 404 1940

Food Style:
Combining the great culinary traditions of the past as well as innovative and creative contemporary ideas in food and drink
Cocktails, Beer, Spirits,
Cognac & Brandy, Cordials
Monday - Saturday
Unpretentious, comfortable, and friendly atmosphere

About the Author(s)