Category Archives: Chef

Chefs Honored for Best Beer Pairings

Culinary competition featured nine chef, 37 beers & 18 dishes.

Pairsine-logoThe 2015 Pairsine/Taste of Elegance beer-pairing competition is in the can, so to speak. Nine Front Range chefs each prepared  two dishes to pair with beers that were winners in an earlier phase of the competition. A panel of judges (including yours truly) selected the Best Chef overall Billy Chartres of Stuft A Burger Bar, Fort Collins, and Most Creative Chef, an honor that went to Steven Chandler of the Omni Interlocken,  the Broomfield resort hotel where the event was held. People’s Choice honors went to Darrell Jensen of Samples World Bistro in Longmont.

Chefs and their assistants prepare tasting portions of two dishes for the crowd of Pairsine guests.
Chefs and their assistants prepare tasting portions of two dishes for the crowd of Pairsine guests.
Maia Parish, me, Jean-Luc Voegele and Rudi Helvig. Jean-Luc Voegele, a judge this time, has been a frequent winner of Pairsine events, both food and wine pairings.
Maia Parish, me, Jean-Luc Voegele and Rudi Helvig. Jean-Luc Voegele, a judge this time, has been a frequent winner of Pairsine events.

There always seem to a few dishes prepared by more than one chef but executed differently. This year, Chandler and Tim Berry  of Boulder’s Fate Brewing Company both made spring rolls. Chandler’s were soft and spicy; Berry’s held together and were crisp. William Merwin of The Blue Star in Colorado Springs and Kirk Spare of the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, not far from the Omni in Broomfield both made fried chicken. Merwin’s was cut into small tasting pieces that were skinless and crustless; Spare’s was hot and crisp. Merwin and Jensen both prepared versions of arancini. Merwin’s had a hint of coconut and accompanied cocoa-braised short ribs; Jensen’s rice balls encased chili con carne with cheddar in the middle.

The next event will be the 11th annual Denver International Wine Festival, October 28-30, and I’m looking forward to it already, since wine is more up my alley than beer.

Beer Muscling in on Wine Turf

Flagstaff House beer dinner & Parisine beer event with chef competition.

Until recently, chefs tended to devise gourmet meals to pair with wines, and by and large, cooks in this country made far more casual dishes to go well with beer. The lines are blurring, the scene is shifting — and that shift is evident in two special beer-centric culinary evenings that are coming right up.

Flagstaff House Fare and New Belgium Brews

FlagstaffLogoWith its 15,000-bottle cellar and numerous Wine Spectator Grand Awards of Excellence and other honors, Boulder’s Flagstaff House boasts a phenomenal wine program.  Breaking away from its image, this legendary restaurant teams up with Fort Collins’ New Belgium Brewery to present top brews paired with the culinary creations of chefs Chris Royster and Mark Monette on Thursday, July 9.

The evening begins with an hors d’oeuvres reception on Flagstaff House’s gorgeous terrace (weather permitting), followed by a sit-down dinner in the spectacular dining room.  New Belgium’s Master Brewers and Flagstaff House chef Royster introduce the food and beer pairings. New Belgium pours rare, cellared and newly released beers, paired with exquisite Flagstaff House cuisine. The event is $95 per person, plus $31  for tips, taxes and online convenience fee.  Buy online. Here’s the mouth-watering menu:

  • Hors d’oeuvres  with Fat Tire & Slow Ride
  • Rabbit Rillette, Frisée Salad, Rosemary Onion Jam, Pear Chips with 
Pear Ginger Beer
  • Kauai White Prawns, Lemon Risotto, Sage Brown Butter Emulsion with 
Snap Shot & Transatlantique Kriek
  • Crisp Duck Confit, Duck Breast Roulade, Orange Braised Barley, Arugula, Dried Cherry Chutney, Black Pepper Gastrique with Rampant & La Folie
  • Banana-Bacon-Chocolate  with Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout

Pairsine for Beer

Pairsine-logoWine Country Network, whose Pairsine/Taste of Elegance chefs’ competitions have become Front Range faves with foodies, now also puts on a comparable beer event. It challenges 10 local chefs to prepare two dishes each to pair with 20 winning beers from the 2015 Denver International  Beer Competition. The beer Pairsine takes place on July 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the  Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield. General admission is $75, including tastings of all the beers and all the food, plus a neat complimentary beer glass. Buy online. Here’s the 2015 line-up of participating chefs and restaurants:

  • Eli Odell, Executive Chef, Highland Tap & Burger
  • David Davis, Executive Chef, The Sink
  • William Merwin, Executive Chef, The Blue Star
  • Dylan Zwart, Executive Chef, Low Down Brewery
  • Jean-Luc Vogele, Executive Chef, The Westin Hotel, Tabor Center
  • Joshua Hasho, Executive Chef, Omni Interlocken Resort & Spa
  • Jeffrey Samoska, Chef de Cuisine, Pub 17 on Welton/ Grand Hyatt
  • Tim Berry, Executive Chef Fate Brewing Company
  • Kirk Spare, Executive Chef, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
  • Michael Long, Executive Chef, Le Central French Restaurant

Chef Shuffle in Aspen

Moscatello heads west & Zubrod comes down the street.

Bryan Moscatello
Bryan Moscatello

On the eve of the 2015 Food & Wine Classic at Aspen, Bryan Moscatello departed Element 47, the spectacular signature restaurant in e Nell Hotel where he had been since late 2013. He took his knives and left for Napa to head the kitchen at The Lakehouse, currently open only to overnight guests at the Calistoga Ranch,  an ultra-posh resort.  When he was with the long-shuttered Adega, Moscatello was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2003.

MatthewZubrodDuring his career, Matthew Zubrod has been with several Ritz-Carltons (including Aspen Highlands, Boston and Naples Florida) as well as Monette’s at the Hotel Mauna Kea in Hawaii and San Diego’s fabled Hotel del Coronado and most recently BB’s Kitchen, a few blocks from The Nell. He is now there, putting his stamp on Element 47.


Keystone’s Ski Tip Welcomes New Chef

CMC/Keystone alum returns to Ski Tip Lodge.

KeystoneResort-logoJordan Alley, a 2009 graduate of Colorado Mountain College and former Ski Tip Lodge sous-chef, returns as executive chef with 10 years of culinary experience.  He spent five years in CMC’s noteworthy apprenticeship program with Keystone Resort. Before his return to Keystone, he was sous-chef at Z-Cuisine in Denver, chef de partie of Fruition Restaurant in Denver and chef de partie at Bouchon in Las Vegas.

Jordan Alley, new executive chef at Keystone's Ski Tip Lodge.
Jordan Alley, new executive chef at Keystone’s Ski Tip Lodge.

Alley is hitting the ground running, kicking off his tenure at the Ski Tip on Sunday, June 14 at 6 p.m. with a six-course showcase dinner, including a meet-and-greet to begin the evening. Featuring a seasonal heirloom tomato salad with locally sourced goat cheese, house-made ricotta-filled gnocchi and a braised and glazed veal cheek entrée, the introductory dinner is $115 and requires reservations (call 970-496-4386 or through showcase is the first of several culinary events that at the Ski Tip Lodge this summer. Others include Summer Après every day from 3 to 5 p.m., Sunshine and Wine tastings (July 12, August 2 and 30 and September 13) and Wine Dinners (July 20, August 21 and September 18).

RIP: Roger Vergé, Pioneering French Chef

RogerVergeRemember when nouvelle cuisine was, in fact, nouvelle? I do. It was in the ’60s when the American mainstream media was reporting more on the counterculture than the culinary culture.  But the buzz among chefs and gourmands (“foodie” was not yet a concept) was about the lightened up French fare introduced by a group of daring young French chefs, who steered their country’s heralded haute cuisine in a lighter and more artistic direction. I had visited France as part of a college summer trip to Europe, and while there was nothing haute about the food my friend and I ate, it was a palate-tickler. When I lived in New York soon thereafter, Biarritz and Le Mont St. Michel were on my block, and other moderately priced French restaurants were not far away. My interest never waned.

Chefs like Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers and Michel Guérard were on the vanguard of this revolution, whose after-effects linger to this day. The Moulin de Mougins restaurant that Vergé established in a village near Cannes earned two Michelin stars. He was an early celebrity chef, a restaurateur, hotelier and author of several cookbooks. He called his food Cuisine du Soleil, cuisine of the sun. He died on June 5 at the age of 85. The New York Times ran a lengthy obituary.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosé

Celebrating a favorite wine for the warm months.

RoseWinesWhen my husband and I visited Greece last year, I started drinking the country’s rosé wines. It started a summer of drinking these light and lovely wines almost every evening. Therefore, I’m cheered that the first-ever Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival is coming to the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield on Thursday, June 11.

Chris and Darcy Davies, the fine folks who run the Denver International Wine Festival and other events celebrating adult beverages and interesting food, are presenting Drink Pink Vino. Davies clears up a common misconception of what rosés are: “Far from being a diluted red, rosés are produced from the same grapes as more full-bodied reds, but the juice is only allowed to ferment with the grape skins for a few days, giving rosés their delicate pink color.  Rosé wine consumption in the U.S. is growing by double digits. More and more producers are releasing their versions of incredibly food-friendly Rosés. The Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival offers wine enthusiasts the chance to sample over sixty new releases right before the summer Rosé drinking season.”

Rosé brands committed to pour at the event include Ponzi Vineyards, Chêne Bleu, Presuqu’ile, Buglioni, Schramsberg, Scharffenberger and Henri Gaillard Rosé Côtes, Barton & Guestier, Saved, Rosatella , Mouton Cadet, Simi, Wild Horse and Creekside Cellars.

Celebrity hosts will include Top Chef Season 5 Winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market and Restaurant and Madeleine de Jean (aka, “Madame Champagne”). Participating restaurants include Blackbelly, Oceanaire Seafood Room and Big Mac & Little Lu’s Seafood Room.

Click here to purchase general admission or VIP tickets.

The Torch Passes at Barolo Grill

Iconic Italian restaurant changes hands but stays in the family.

BaroloGrill-logoSome restaurants seem immutable, but of course, they aren’t. It seemed as if Blair Taylor would always own the Barolo Grill, and as if Brian Laird would always be the chef in this revered Piemontese restaurant in the Congress Park/Cherry Creek area. First Laird departed to become the opening (and short-lived) chef at Sarto’s, and now Ryan Fletter, Barolo’s longtime general manager, has purchased the celebrated Denver restaurant from founder Blair Taylor.

Fletter is promising to continue the same lofty levels of food, wine and service that have kept the restaurant at the pinnacle of the Denver dining scene for years.  Ryan Fletter recently took control of the restaurant, and Taylor plans to concentrate on his Denver-based wine-importing business. Taylor initially started bringing in certain desired vintages through Enotec Imports, a friend’s importing company and bought it in late 1997.

Ryan Fletter, Barolo Grill's new owner.
Ryan Fletter, Barolo Grill’s new owner.

Fletter began working as a waiter at Barolo just 18 months after the restaurant opened in December 1992. He became bar manager and then general manager, took a hiatus to work at in San Francisco restaurant from 2001 to 2003, and returned 12 years ago to take over day-to-day operations as  general manager and wine director. In the process, Barolo Grill began earning the a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence.

Darrel Fluet now captains Barolo Grill’s kitchen, and I have no idea where Brian Laird might be cooking now.

Barolo Grill on Urbanspoon