Sean Conry came to Plumas County under the employ of the Cleary family, who were the former owners of Plumas Pines Golf Resort near Graeagle.
Conry had worked with the family for several years in Portland and was asked to come with them to start a restaurant at their “new” golf course.
Originally, he agreed to stay at Plumas Pines through the season. As things turned out, he developed the Longboards Bar & Grill and stayed on for 16 years.
Though Conry was offered the opportunity to remain as the chef with the new owners of Plumas Pines, he decided to pursue other interests and ended his tenure there last November.
In his time in Plumas County, Conry has become an essential and formidable force in building a local culinary arts culture, both as a mentor and a peer.
While chef at Longboards, he also took on the Feather River College Culinary Arts Program, where he is still an instructor.
In his time at FRC, Conry has mentored numerous students who have gone on to open their own restaurants or who are now working at restaurants close to home or far away.
“Sean was the original inspiration for Taste of Plumas,” commented Roxanne Valladao. “He had been in the habit of attending six or more high profile tasting events each year in the Reno/Tahoe area and beyond. He wanted to do something like that here and worked with Plumas Arts since the event was established a decade ago, helping us build a showcase for Plumas County food, bring a level of excellence that we take pride in, and also encouraging chefs around the county to attend.”
Conry sees these tasting events as a means to “get your name out there” and even more as an “opportunity to hang out with other chefs.” So much of a chef’s time is spent in the kitchen behind the scenes. Taste of Plumas offers a chance to get out and mingle with other chefs and an appreciative public.
He has found a home here and, with much energy and an open heart to share, he has been a vital part of establishing numerous culinary-based life skill programs that benefit participants on a professional level as well as enhancing individual social skills and personal growth.
The Greenville Culinary program is one of his proudest endeavors. Over the last 10 years, working through the school district and other mentor teachers, he has coached the program that has surpassed his aspirations for what it might become.
The Greenville team is by far the smallest in the state competing at the annual California Restaurant Association’s ProStart Culinary Cup. In 2011 and 2013, the team placed second, and this year the team accomplished the amazing by winning first place in the state.
Coach Conry calls this his “proudest moment” as an educator. They now will represent Plumas County as well as the state of California at the national competition.
Another of his efforts has been with the Ohana House in Quincy, a home for young adults who have aged out of foster care. In this setting, he helps to guide them to a future where they work and live in a sober environment, building skills for a socially responsible future.
His most recent effort is the “Mise en Place” project that will be showcased at this year’s Taste of Plumas. Working under the FRC On-Ramp Adult Education program, he coordinates this project at the county jail where inmates can complete a 12-week culinary certificate program that provides them an opportunity for employment at the end of their incarceration.
“Mise en Place” is a French term that translates as “everything in its place.” The application of the concept encompasses a holistic approach, from the recipes and tools and the ingredients required to master the final product and, in this situation, the potential created for the individuals involved.
He is also working with Chalet View Lodge in helping to hire staff for the restaurant and planning a menu for tasty bits at the Eureka Peak Brewing tasting room that will be debuted at the Taste of Plumas.
Conry feels his work there has come full circle since the Eureka Peak Brewery was an idea that was given life in his garage where the beers were brewed before the enterprise found its way to the Chalet View.
What does the future hold for him? As much as possible he will stay connected with Plumas County because he “loves the place.” He enjoys the chance to “take an opportunity and run with it.” With his former employers, the Cleary family, he is now exploring business models that combine compatible endeavors — breakfast and evening restaurants, espresso shops, and culinary retail businesses — into a complex in a neighboring urban area. He is hoping that he might be able to stay close to the “home” that he has come to love.
Conry is a man big in heart and creative energy, who has influenced and assisted countless numbers here in these remote communities of the state.