A Family & Local Tradition: Papa Joe’s Little Chalet Dressing

I’ve been trying to write about Papa Joe’s Little Chalet dressing for months.

Eating the dressing has been easier than writing about it.

Eating the dressing has been easier than writing about it.

I’m not sure why it’s so hard.  I met with the owners, Daniel and Michelle Reich, two months ago and they have a great story about family, local history and a 60 year old industrial food mixer.

And yet, I missed so much of the story!  I don’t mean I wasn’t listening.  I mean I only moved here four years ago.  How can I write a story with fifty years of local history?

The Reich's have brought the past (gold bottle on the right) into the present (glass bottle on the left).

The Reichs have brought the past (gold bottle on the right) into the present (glass bottle on the left).

The story begins in 1945 when Daniel’s grandfather Joe decided he would like to buy the Swiss Chalet Restaurant.  The restaurant was not actually for sale, but Joe talked the owner into selling.

As we know from pictures, everything was black & white in 1945, including menus.

As we know from pictures, everything was black & white in 1945, including menus.

Joe didn’t actually have the money to buy a restaurant, but he had a good reputation and good friends.  He called one of these friends, a man who delivered coal and ice for a living, and said, “We just bought a restaurant!”

You could get absinthe after dinner!

You could get absinthe after dinner!

The restaurant did well.  It was famous for its salad dressing.

Menu offerings were a bit different in those days.

I sure would like to know what a shirred egg is!

The dressing recipe had been perfected by Mrs. Kay Reich and eventually the family was selling more dressing than restaurant meals!  Joe sold the restaurant and opened a bottling plant around 1955.

Daniel remembers the plant fondly.  He would run around the kitchen as a child.

“It smelled like garlic.  Actually, my grandfather smelled like garlic too.”

Daniel remembers that his Uncle Fred took over the business in the 80s and then shut it down to retire and raise alpacas in the 90s.  He tried to get the dressing recipe from Fred for years!  When he finally sent it, the Reichs had to whittle it down a bit for their home taste tests.  The recipe made 25 gallons of dressing!

The original mixer resides in the Vision Foods kitchen today, mixing up batches of dressing you can buy at Patsy’s Candies or Nourish Organic Juice.

Daniel and Michelle’s three year old pushed the button on the 60 year old mixer to start the first batch, echoing Daniel’s own experience growing up.

After lots of hard work, this iconic dressing is back on the shelves.  This popular old recipe is back in action and Springs residents can buy the dressing again.

Like a well-oiled mixer, the cycle continues.

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© 2013 Hungry Chicken Homestead

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