Cookin' it up just right
Stumbling out of any local watering hole late at night, you might be thinking it would be a good thing to get some righteous sustenance into that stomach that has endured an entire evening of concoctions and brews.
Out in the street, just outside the din and tussle you emerged from, a dragon on four wheels bewitches your nose with the aroma of organic delectables. You think perhaps Demeter herself has manifested to deliver your salvation in the form of a fattie burrito or a slice of pizza—but her name is actually Emily Goughary, co-owner of Mountain Oven, cooking up those tasties.
The first thing about her that you might have noticed is the artistically wild haystack of dreads piled up precariously and poking out defiantly in every which-way, above a crisscross swatch of headband to frame sparkling eyes (although the dreads have been since traded for fine shorter curls during a purification process). As a transplant from the northern Adirondacks of upstate New York, Emily has already taken root as part of town’s garden of eclectic local souls, with some very fertile ideas of sustainable living in a deliciously conscientious way.No stranger to outdoor life, her mother was an avid hiker and her father’s goal was to be able to ski to work. “My family used to ski a lot in Vermont, Canada and New York,” Emily says, painting a verbal landscape of her childhood. Her mom encouraged hiking through the many mountains she hauled Emily and her brother up. By the time she was 12, Emily had climbed all 46 of the highest peaks of the Adirondacks. “I think the experiences that I had in the outdoors when I was growing up led me to be more curious about traveling,” she admits.
As a child, she traveled to poor rural Mexican towns with her mother to deliver donated eyeglasses. Both her parents were college professors of optometry. On a trip to Russia, the family hiked the Caucasus Mountains, climbing Mt. Elbrus, the 19,510-foot peak. Later, in Tanzania, Emily and her family climbed Kilimanjaro. So it’s no surprise that when she arrived in the Butte, Emily headed up many of our best verticals—with a twist. “I was naked atop most of them,” she giggles. “I try to have a naked lunch on top of mountains.”
Emily first discovered Crested Butte while searching for the proper place to call home. “I moved here by bicycle after I graduated from college, riding across the country from Washington, D.C. Five of us decided to ride our bikes toward the west,” she says of her monumental autumnal arrival.
With snow already on the passes, the clan headed out by thumb, hitching rides to various ski towns, when they landed in paradise. “We just felt like Crested Butte was the best one.” She says their decision was based on the amazing people they met here. In their search for appropriate Crested Butte digs they serendipitously came across the old converted Bucket of Blood Saloon on Second Street, set up house and renamed the infamous bar The Love Bath, reflecting their communal spirit.
Emily recalls how good the space felt but says, “To be able to pay the monthly rent we had to fill it with seven people, so our first winter was super cozy. It became a beautiful communal gathering place. It still is.
“The universe was responding to us in such a positive way that we knew we were supposed to be in this town,” she recalls. “When we came into town we had only what was on the back of our bicycles. I had two pair of Spandex bike shorts and my backpacker guitar and the Love Bath was totally unfurnished. We started finding couches and people just started dropping off things on our porch. One night we were just sitting around chatting and someone suggested we get a floor rug, because the floors were getting really cold and literally, the day after, there was a rug on our porch that somebody dropped off,” she says, noting the overwhelming kindness of the community.
Attending Hamilton College in New York, Emily studied environmental sciences and studio art. She and Mountain Oven partner, Chris Sullivan, studied sustainable food systems at school. Emily tells of their vision, “When we got to Crested Butte we really wanted to get involved in the sustainable food network. We wanted to involve the community in such a way that people would want to experiment and expand the food growing possibilities of the valley because it definitely can be done—it’s totally possible,” she says enthusiastically.
As part of the Paradise Food Project, now called the Mountain Roots Food Project (mountainrootsfoodproject.org), Emily explains the aim is to support a more sustainable food system through education, accessibility and involvement in growing your own food. “We grow a lot of kale,” she laughs, observing the extreme climes of the valley, but adds, “There are a lot of things that grow in this environment.”
In addition to the community gardens of Mountain Roots, the group helped the Crested Butte Community School start gardens for teachers and students. “They’re growing lots of root veggies like potatoes, carrots, beets,” she says, as well as bok choy, mustard greens, spinach and other lettuces, onions, leeks, garlic, peas, and raspberries. “We can grow things in our valley despite our extreme weather and temps,” she assures. “Most of them take longer to mature and need more TLC.” She’s served on the Mountain Roots board since its 2010 inception.
Simultaneously, in 2010, Emily and Chris also cranked up Mountain Oven (mountainoven.com) and it’s become a tight-knit crew of all of their closest friends. She references that communal thing again. “We’re all involved in spreading the love. The first winter we were living in Crested Butte, Chris and I were baking for fun in our kitchen at Love Bath for our household and giving away loaves to neighbors. People started responding really positively to it,” she says, recalling the lack of both bakeries and artisan bread in town then. “People encouraged us to sign up for the Farmers Market that summer, which we did, and it was super fun.” After a hugely successful summer, the Oven outgrew its space and moved in to take over the kitchen at Montanya Rum Distilleries.
“This year we have a triple-wide booth at the Farmers Market—it’s like the bread empire,” she laughs and explodes into a list of all the culinary baked delights they now offer in addition to breads. Dubbed “The Dragon Wagon” and painted in the gypsy spirit of the mountains by Emily’s hand, the bumper motto reads “Pushing Organic Vibes.” Emily is firmly convinced that “Food vending vehicles and carts add a lot of character and vibrancy to our town. It makes it feel alive and really fun.”
Diving into her other love, Emily spun art out of discarded textiles and fabric. “I was really into weaving and creating lanterns, lampshades and wearable art. I still do some of that but I’ve been honing in on my jewelry making,” and while relaunching her favorite medium she recently joined Artists of the West Elks (AWE). Emily’s work can be seen at the AWE booth at this week’s Crested Butte Arts Festival, August 3-5 (crestedbutteartsfestival.com).
In the past few months Emily verified what she already knew—how this community is overwhelmingly supportive, especially when a member is faced with a serious medical issue. “In May, I poured out my intentions during the solar eclipse and asked the universe to allow me to be able to release anything in my physical-mental-spiritual self that wasn’t serving my highest potential,” she recalls. Then one week later she was diagnosed with colon cancer at the abnormally young age of 25.
“It all happened so fast. I went through a whirlwind of doctor visits and spiritual healing ceremonies, had a lot of body and energy work done,” she says and adds that at the time of her surgery to remove eight inches of colon, the cancer site was smaller than when it was first diagnosed. She attributed that miracle to all the healing work. “I’m convinced that it had to do with the true healers of this valley, from chiropractic and Reiki to ceremonies of healing. This valley is filled with shamans and healers and people with big hearts. It’s really amazing to feel this level of support from a community,” she says with both admiration and gratitude.
This winter (and yes, winter is coming) Emily is looking forward to her third year as part of the snowpacking crew at CBMR. Despite her heavy schedule she’s determined. “I’ll make it work. Everybody’s got to make it work to get a ski pass!” She also hints, “People should keep their eyes out for a super funky little creekside café opening in the near future….”
She wholeheartedly confesses, “I am truly blessed in so many ways. All you have to do is ask to see the real truth and then if you’re open to receiving it, it will unfold. None of that means that it’s gonna be easy. I have the opportunity to concentrate on healing in a much fuller way, in a holistic way, to heal mind, spirit and body… and I feel so blessed to have this support behind me from the community.”