THE SHORT VERSION
In 1967, Ernst & Barbra Larese brought Austrian flare & the famous Swiss Hot Dog to the Vail Valley.
For over 40 years, Swiss Hot Dog has been a fixture in the Vail Valley and now their daughter, Simone, is now continuing the tradition with the newest location at the top of Bridge Street in Vail Village.
THE LONG VERSION
After being born in the little mountain town of Bolzano, Italy, in 1931, Ernst Lareses and his family moved to Salzburg, Austria, where he was raised. When he was 9 he was pierced through the neck by a fence post while trying to forage a meal. He stuck his fingers in the hole, ran to a hospital where he was turned away, ran to another hospital and made it just in time to receive the care that would save his life.
He went on to join the French Foreign Legion, fight in Africa, move to Australia, build Perisher Ski Resort’s first commercial ski lodge, move to Vail and father three American children.
After fighting in the Algerian War, Ernst Larese moved to Australia for a fresh start. It was 1956.
He grew up in Salzburg, so he knew skiing well, but he also grew up during World War II, so he knew what it was like to wonder from where your next meal would come. It gave him a fascination with the food business which he would take, along with his knowledge of skiing, to Australia after serving his time with the French Foreign Legion in Algeria.
In Australia he was showing the sport of skiing to the locals, maybe showing off a little, when he crashed and broke his femur. While in the hospital, he encountered the woman he called the most beautiful girl on the Australian continent. Barbara was a nurse at the hospital and fell for Ernst.
They were wed in July of 1961 in the town of Jindabyne, near Perisher.
“It was the middle of winter, during a very big snowstorm,” said Barbara Larese. “We had to go by snowmobile to the reception.”
After 10 years in Australia, Ernst decided it was once again time for a change. Barbara and he packed up their things and moved to Colorado, landing in Vail. Not long after arriving, he started the Blu Cow restaurant in the location where the Tyrolean is located today. It was 1967.
A few years later, they had their first child. Two more would follow.
Over the next few decades, Ernst would start the Swiss Hot Dog shop and move it to several locations between Vail and Beaver Creek. The half pork, half veal, double wiener with curry, sprouts and onions and parsley would go on to become a signature meal in the Vail Valley.
Simone Larese carries on the tradition today with her restaurant, also named the Blu Cow, in Vail Village’s Slifer Square near The Red Lion.
*The Long Version was written by John LaConte