Andy Blanton, Executive Chef and Owner
Andy Blanton was raised in several different cities, notably New Orleans, Louisiana and Virginia Beach, Virginia. His culinary journey began while working as a dishwasher at the age of 15. After working at a couple of restaurants washing dishes, curiosity began to arise and the allure of cooking became apparent. At eighteen years of age, Andy began to realize his path in the world of food. It was not until a year later, with several line cooking positions under his belt, he chose to catapult his career by enrolling in culinary school.
Attending the Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Andy earned an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. This enabled him to return to his roots in Louisiana to explore the abundance of flavorful cuisine. Learning the techniques and core foundations of all facets of food preparation, while continuing to work in several different restaurants, he became fascinated with the different styles and versatility of food. He began to appreciate the happiness food brings to people, for both the chef who prepares it and the guest who enjoys it. This struck a deep chord within him and he became fully dedicated to creating this enjoyment for both himself and his guests.
The same year he finished school, Chef Blanton took a job at Commanders Palace in New Orleans, Louisiana, recipient of the James Beard Award for “Most Outstanding Restaurant in 1996.” This is where he learned depth within each dish, paying attention to details such as texture, mouth feel, presentation, eye appeal, and flavor, and how these elements combine for each and every plate.
His passion continued to grow as did his excitement with the industry. He began to research and educate himself about current trends, award winning chefs, and the finest examples of culinary cuisine. This led him to Brigtsens, working under Frank Brigtsen, another James Beard Award winning Chef, allowing him to fine tune his experience. While at Brigtsens, Andy was fortunate to also work with award winning chef Susan Spicer of Bayona.
In the fall of 1999, Andy chose to move to Whitefish, Montana for a change of pace and scenery. His talents were quickly recognized and he became Executive Chef of Café Kandahar at Big Mountain Resort in 2000. After six years as Executive Chef, Andy purchased the restaurant in 2006.
Café Kandahar serves creative cuisine with a strong classical foundation. The styles are Modern American with roots ripe in French and Creole influences. Showcasing locally cultivated products, wild game and the freshest ingredients, Café Kandahar strives to provide guests with a unique and exquisite dining experience. The cafe boasts an extensive wine list garnering numerous accolades such as “The Wine Spectator Award of Excellence” (since 1998) and the “Wine Enthusiasts Award of Unique Distinction” (since 2004). Specializing in the art of pairing food and wine, the café delights patrons with nightly features of both. Each month Café Kandahar offers a special themed Wine Dinner when Blanton collaborates with Sommelier Andrew Kriss serving multiple courses matching wines that accentuate and complement the unique flavors and individual characteristics of his creations, and providing guests with new dimensions to culinary degustation.