Forging his earlier career in prestigious kitchens from coast to coast, chef Gerard Thompson eventually found Rough Creek Lodge to be exactly right for the long haul. The first hire made at the luxury resort at Glen Rose, roughly a 90-minute drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the executive chef has called the retreat — a place of elegance with comfortably rustic edges on an 11,000-acre ranch — home since 1997. He honed his signature craft of working with the finest possible products while serving as executive chef at the renowned San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, CA, prior to his move to Texas. Earlier work included that at the beautiful Park Hyatt in Washington, D.C., and at the Remington Hotel in Houston.

Travels around Italy, particularly to the food-centric towns of Bologna, Magna, Parma, and Florence, influence his work, which is noted for thoughtful attention to detail and a commitment to pure ingredients and careful crafting. Everything in the busy Rough Creek Lodge kitchen is made the old-fashioned way, always by hand, from focaccia to sourdough breads, from mozzarella to ice creams and sorbets, and a stunning variety of cured meats to pickled vegetables.

And each day, Gerard meets with a number of purveyors offering fresh berries and microgreens from their gardens and eggs and cheeses from their farms. Meanwhile, he sources wild game from around Texas and the U.S. and continues to bring in smoked salmon from a favorite Southern California purveyor who knows her fishermen by name; shaved black truffles and other delicacies are as common on the menu as are dressed-up versions of downhome goodness, like antelope Frito pie. (Needless to say, FedEx makes frequent deliveries at Gerard’s kitchen, 100 miles from DFW Airport.)

Gerard’s success in the kitchen has earned him trips to cook at the James Beard House in New York, and he’s been a featured chef at the James Beard Foundation Awards dinner, too. Rough Creek Lodge, under Gerard’s culinary direction, has won top scores for food, décor, and service by the Zagat Survey, which has named Rough Creek Lodge as one of America’s Top Restaurants. In addition, Rough Creek Lodge has received the esteemed DiRôNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) Award and has been honored as a Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice.

Growing up in a military family, Gerard and his seven siblings moved all over the country, but they landed long enough for him to graduate from high school and go to culinary school in San Antonio. The diversity of places roamed broadened his palate immensely; favorite memories include digging for clams on the Jersey Shore and buying fresh summer corn for a beach supper. Even today, he likes life by the water: Outside the kitchen at Rough Creek, you’ll find Gerard enjoying time at his home on nearby Lake Granbury with his dog, Malbec.