Chef Karen Averitt

Karen Averitt, a personal chef of 22 years for Ted Turner, cooks with local and healthy ingredients. Her philosophy is balance and moderation, and gifts cooking lessons at many locations in Bozeman.

Bozeman resident Karen Averitt is a personal chef, but not just any personal chef.

Her “Flying D Chili” happens to be on the menu in all 44 Ted's Montana Grill restaurants, and Ted Turner has called Averitt his personal chef for more than 22 years at his three Montana ranches.

I wandered what kind of personality could work for so many years with the notoriously passionate and outspoken billionaire. It turns out that Averitt is all about balance and moderation. She's very open and relaxed yet obviously guards her employer's privacy.

She started with Turner in Montana, after first working for his ex-wife, Jane Fonda, at her aerobics studio in Santa Barbara, Calif. Averitt now considers herself and her family Montanans.

Averitt lives in a warm, eclectic home she shares with her musician husband, Jim, and Turner's dog, Blacky. During the winter, she teaches yoga and also gives cooking classes at the Bozeman Public Library and the cancer center. She is always on the move. She is vibrant, with good health and purpose.

Averitt buys all of the ranch foods she can from local growers. She knows most farmers around the Turner ranches and sticks to seasonal menus. The goal is to stay balanced with the community and support the local economy.

Averitt doesn't eat much meat, but she cooks a lot of game and bison because Turner doesn't eat beef. She said she enjoys the creative aspect of cooking fresh, bringing out the subtle and true flavors of what finds its way into her kitchens.

Here is Averitt's recipe for bison meatloaf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 2 lbs. ground bison
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, quartered, seeded, and ribs removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, quartered, seeded, and ribs removed
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish. Set aside.

Place ½ pound ground bison, 1 piece of yellow pepper, 1 piece of red pepper, 1 piece of onion, 1 ½ tsp. rosemary, 1 ½ tsp. sage, 1 ½ tsp. oregano and ½ clove garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Repeat process three more times with remaining bison, peppers, onion, rosemary, sage, oregano and garlic.

Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to bowl with bison mixture and season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.

Using your hands, form bison mixture into a loaf and place in prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.

Add chicken stock, wine and tomatoes to baking dish. Return to oven, basting with juices every 15 minutes, until meatloaf is firm and pan juices are bubbly, about 1 hour more.

Let meatloaf stand 5 minutes before slicing and serving with pan juices.

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