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Rolf Gunther, the man behind the kitchen door at Rimrock

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There’s a chef in Spain who is the Mick Jagger of the cooking world. Chefs swoon in his presence and await his next move with parted lips and bated breath. Customers wait for years to pay hundreds of dollars for meals that include gold-plated egg yolks, cherries wrapped in ham fat, crepes made of nothing but milk, and foamed beetroot.

There are the TV personality chefs and big-time authors, bamming this and bamming that, or suggestively licking the sauce off their fingers and transforming cooking demos into escapades that are more about eroticism and bedroom goings-on than anything you can find in your fridge.

Then there’s Rolf Gunther.

Rolf is the chef/co-owner and creative force in the kitchen at Rimrock Café. It’s a 25-year-old success story that, despite or perhaps because of, its out-of-the-way location has become a Whistler icon. For in some inexplicable way, Rimrock has distilled and captured a quintessential essence of “Whistler” while delivering a mighty fine dining experience at the same time.

Touted by many as the best restaurant around, including Pique readers who have voted it “Best of Whistler” four years in a row, Rimrock has been commended by culinary bastions like Bon Appétit and Zagat for its overall excellence. Movie stars hear about it and try to squeeze in a visit, even when the place is sold out. Sometimes the likes of Bill Murray and Danny DeVito get in — and sometimes they’re just plain out of luck.

So Rolf has every reason to start his own show on the Food Network or pump out designer cookbooks and go on cross-country tours. After all, he has all the credentials: culinary training at the four-star Park Hotel in Germany’s Black Forest region, and experience in fine restaurants from Basel, Switzerland to Berlin before delivering the goods here.

But he can’t. Because Rolf is the original anti-celebrity chef.

You likely know somebody like him yourself — one of those people who hates putting him- or herself in the spotlight, even in a modest, neighbourly kind of way. As his business partner Bob Dawson puts it, some people don’t even know who Rolf is, and he’s been around for decades.

“We just don’t care about a lot of the things that are going on out there. We just keep doing what we do,” says Rolf on a crisp autumn afternoon before leaving on a holiday to Maui.

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