HIGH VALLEY FARM

Reprinted from

Telefood Magazine

 October, 1957

 This fall Eugune Lilly is adding four new items to his line of delicately smoked fish and fowl products from his High Valley Farm in Colorado Springs.  Boneless halves of smoked rainbow trout, packed in eight ounce oval tins, containing about three pieces, are being introduced in addition to the popular whole smoked trout which, packed under vacuum in pliofilm envelopes, has been on the market for some time.  Like the whole trout, these new halves may be served in a number of ways; warmed in the oven and served simply with hot butter and chopped parsley; served cold with mayonnaise, or the cold fish may come to the table dressed with a sauce of lime juice, a little English mustard and chopped chives.

 A four ounce round tin of bite size pieces of boneless back filets of smoked trout is a second pack being introduced this fall.  Some sixteen pieces to the four ounce tine, this item will be a popular cocktail specialty, offered simply on tooth picks, or made up into superb canapés.

 Whole smoked turkey will be a brand new offering from High Valley Farm.  These birds, treated with the same carefully controlled cure that has made the rainbow trout so uniformly delicate, will be shipped from the farm direct to the customer on order from dealers.  Being highly perishable, this direct shipment will save the retailer the trouble and expense of stocking the birds, and will make this popular smoked turkey easily available for air shipment everywhere.

 The fourth new product from the Lilly Farm will be an eight ounce oval tin of sliced breast of smoked turkey.  The breasts will be sliced, ready for use right out of the tin.  This will undoubtedly be a most popular product with hostesses for buffet cold platter assortments, casserole and chafing dish recipes, as well as the canapé tray.

 High Valley Farm, in the Broadmoor section of Colorado Springs has become as important a spot on the epicure’s map as Strassburg, the European home of pate de foie gras, during the past decade or more that Eugene Lilly has been marketing his fine pate of smoked rainbow trout.  This delicate pate is now known the world over:  hostesses throughout the United States, as far away as Ceylon, France, Italy and England have delighted guests with this incomparably delicate fish pate.

 Euguene Lilly’s professional life as chief geologist for an oil company took him throughout all parts of Oklahoma and Texas until ill health forced him to the sidelines in 1925 and a Colorado sanitarium.  After purchasing the Colorado Springs trout farm, he moved his home there in 1928.  This property has moutain-fed springs and trout ponds and the Lilly Family was soon supplying trout to fine restaurants.  The smoked trout pate was developed in the Lilly kitchen and first served to family friends and guests. 

Frederick Wildman, New York wine importer, was responsible for urging Eugene Lilly to smoke trout.  It was Wildman who asked Andre Simon, president of the London Wine and Food Society, to send his friend the details of the English trout cure.  This became the basic Lilly recipe.  A smokehouse was built and processing plant on the farm was installed to produce the tinned pate for the market.

 The High Valley Farm trout are fed an epicurean diet of salmon eggs from Washington, the same as used for American caviar, shrimp fro New Orleans and broken ice cream cones from Kansas City.  The trout reach the proper development and size after two years of this careful feeding.  The gamekeeper catches them, cleans them at once, and puts them through the curing process that is the secret of uniformly delicious flavor of these trout.

The trout are then hung on sticks, placed in the old-fashioned smokehouse, where they are gently and leisurely smoked over pure hickory wood shipped specially from Arkansas.  From forty-eight to seventy-two hours are needed to give the trout just the right degree of smoke.  Time varies depending upon moisture, wind, and general weather conditions.  This smoking is a distinct art and cannot be standardized; its success depends upon the skill and painstaking care of the gamekeeper.  For the first twelve hours the trout demand literally constant care and attention.

 After smoking, the trout are divided into two lots; those to be shipped as whole trout are sent directly to the packing room; those to be processed into pate are taken immediately to the canning room where they are hand-boned.  The immaculate canning kitchen, right on the farm, is staffed by three workers who can produce a maximum of fifteen hundred cans a day.  While recipe remains a secret, the trout are ground fine, mixed with rich butter, eggs, milk, spices and salt, then packed into hot, sterile tins, labeled by hand and boxed for shipment.

 The demand for the smoked rainbow trout pate has grown to the point where twelve pools on the Lilly farm cannot supply sufficient trout.  Eugene Lilly now leases over fifty miles of natural pools and streams near La Veta, Colorado, by the Spanish Peak Mountains.

 The marketing of the smoked trout pate, just under way in 1940, stopped abruptly during the war years, due to the tin shortage.  It was resumed in 1945, when the tin was again available.  The first High Valley Farm advertisement in Telefood Magazine in 1946 introduced the new pate to Telefood dealers.  Due to the costly ingredients, as well as the extreme care needed in its preparation, the pate has always carried the premium price.  Fine food dealers readily recognized the premium quality of this delightfully delicate-flavored pate, in which the careful smoking has merely enhanced the superb flavor of the Colorado mountain trout, and today this Lilly patented processed pate has grown in popularity until thousands of cases are shipped to specialty food retailers all over the country.

 A man of many interests, Gene Lilly, with health restored, became a wine importer in 1933, later a vice president of Bellows and Company.  He sold interest in Bellows a few years ago and is now devoting full time to the High Valley Farm products. 

More than just a trout farm, the High Valley Farm has been stocked with partridge and pheasant.  In 1933 Lilly was one of three growers of Chukor Partridge, a favorite game bird in the foothills of the Himalayas.  He has stocked a number of farms and game preserves in several states.  The 21 Club has bought as many as one thousand of his Chukor Partridges in one year.  Pheasants are sold to hotels and restaurants.  In 1955 Gene introduced ring neck pheasant liver pate, the demand for which has grown until now it takes the livers from sixty thousand pheasants to provide the present market with this item.  The following year, he developed the turkey liver pate. 

The rural mail box marking the entrance to High Valley Farm at the edge of Colorado Springs suggests to the casual passerby a beautifully kept private estate.  There is no indication of the presence of a commercial canning factory producing thousands of cases of epicurean food products that find their way to all parts of the world.  The farm house, which was one of the oldest in the area at the time of purchase by the Lillys, has been remodeled into a beautiful home for year round living.  Long vistas, framed by towering pines and overhanging willows, bring fourteen thousand foot high Pike’s Peak iinto view across handsomely landscaped grounds of rolling lawns, flowering shrubs, sparkling mountain water ponds.  Immaculate white buildings here and there on the ten acre estate in no way detract from the beauty of the place.  Serving as smokehouse, kitchen, canning plant and shipping room, these buildings are the very heart of the High Valley Farm operation.  From here, this fall will come in addition to the smoked rainbow trout pate and pliofilm-enveloped whole smoked trout, the four new items in the line; the tinned halves of smoked trout, the bite size pieces of boneless smoked filets, the whole smoked turkeys, and the oval tins of sliced breast of smoked turkey.