Ben “Wyatt” Dufresne
Executive Chef, PlumpJack Cafe
Ben "Wyatt" Dufresne began his career in the culinary arts as a teenager working at a fish market in his hometown of Scotia, New York. It was there that he first took note of the importance of local, fresh ingredients in cooking. Discovering his fascination in the natural sciences, he graduated from Bates College in Maine with a double degree in biology and environmental studies. After interning with an organic vegetable farm, Ben spent a year developing his cooking skills in restaurants in Colorado and Vermont.
Admittedly following his love of skiing through each of these states, Dufresne found his niche when he moved to Lake Tahoe in 2002 and began his culinary career at PlumpJack Cafe under then-Executive Chefs Jeffery Powell and Larry Dunning. Chef Powell was known to use nicknames for each of the members of his kitchen staff. When Powell met Ben Dufresne, he took note of his Wyatt Earp-like mustache and immediately gave him the nickname “Wyatt.” The name stuck and Ben quickly became known as “Wyatt” all over Lake Tahoe.
Dufresne expanded his culinary palate while serving as a chef in a number of well-known Lake Tahoe destinations, including West Shore Cafe and LuLou's Restaurant. In 2010 he came full circle as the new Executive Chef at PlumpJack Cafe. Dufresne’s cuisine draws off his love for sustainable, organic, and seasonal ingredients as well as his educational background in science. His knowledge of how things grow, the anatomy of animals and fish, and the environmental impact of sourcing sustainable products has great influence on his menu selections. His love for science and nature helps balance his cooking techniques between cutting edge styles to classic favorites with keen attention to local organic produce.