Category Archives: Chef

Denver Fest Celebrates Sustainable Seafood

Go Fish!  tasting event on Wednesday.

Fish-clipaartTop Denver chefs are coming together on Wednesday, August 26 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge. The first Go Fish! Sustainable Seafood Tasting Event is described as a “luxurious strolling dinner” that includes ocean-friendly fish donated by Seattle Fish Co. — with gourmet beer wine and cocktails as well. The focus is on  sustainable ingredients as identified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s wonderful Seafood Watch program. During this fishy feast, guests can sample dishes by some of the top restaurants and chefs in Denver, including acknowledged local seafood specialists. The event is open to the public.  Click here to purchase tickets ($40).

  • Dory Ford,  Baur’s Restaurant and AQUA TERRA Culinary.
  • Sheila Lucero, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar.
  •  Kelly Whitaker, Basta and Cart-Driver.
  •  Robert Grant, Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge.
  •  Alex Seidel, Fruition.
  •  Troy Guard, Guard & Grace and others.
  • Paul Reilly, Beast + Bottle.
  • Shaun Motoda, TAG Raw Bar.
  • Matt Vawter, Mercantile Dining & Provision.
  •  Kyle Mendenhall, The Kitchen Community.
  •  Kevin Grossi, LOLA.

Bauer’s is at 1512 Curtis Street, Denver; 303-615-4000.

Topple is New Top Toque at Vail Mountaintop Restaurant

Chef returns to a Vail Mountain high-elevation restaurant.

Steven Topple.
Steven Topple.

Steven Topple has been named executive chef of the Game Creek Club and Restaurant, a star in Vail Mountain’s galaxy of fine-dining establishments. He steps into the role in mid-September in preparation for the upcoming 2015-16 winter season. 

A native of Portsmouth, England, Topple graduated from the culinary school of Highbury College before coming to the United States in 1999. Since then, he has worked at such storied and prestigious restaurants as the Lake Placid Lodge in New York, the Wilcox Inn in South Carolina, Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in San Francisco, the Lodge at Sea Island in Georgia and most recently the Shore Lodge in McCall, Idaho. He is no stranger to Vail Resorts, as he was previously the executive chef at Beano’s Cabin and also at the Sonnenalp Hotel. 

Located in the high-mountain precincts of Game Creek Bowl, it provides a members-only club experience by day and elegant fine-dining opportunity for the public by night. And no, you probably can’t afford the membership, but a special-occasion indulgence is possible for most of us.

In the evening, the Game Creek Restaurant serves up distinctive American cuisine, an award-winning wine list and superior service complimented by magnificent views and sunsets. During the summer season, the restaurant offers late-afternoon drinks and appetizers on the deck or a multi-course dinner menu every Thursday through Saturday. Sunday brunch is also served each week during summer operations. In winter, guests are whisked to the restaurant via snowcat for nightly dinner, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 970-754-4275.


New Upscale Eatery at Seven Falls

Colorado Springs attraction rehabbed-plus from 2013 flood.

1858-logo-The Seven Falls, a long popular tourist attraction in Colorado Springs, suffered grievous flood damage on September 12, 2013 — not the falls themselves, but the touristic infrastructure — access road damage, downed trees, mud build-up and such. The Broadmoor purchased the Falls site the following year and has spent a fortune to restore, repair and replace — the latter replacing an old snack bar with a fine restaurant  beautifully situated at the bottom of Cheyenne Canyon, a narrow box canyon of incredible beauty.

The Broadmoor opens the Restaurant 1858 tomorrow — one year, 11 months minus one day since the devastating flood. Housed in a new building that recalls the 19th century hotels and mansions in nearby Manitou Springs, it is a fine dining Broadmoor-level restaurant with indoor and patio seating. The name comes from the area’s Gold Rush days when an estimated 100,000 gold-seekers painted on the sides of their wagons between 1858 and 1861 with “Pikes Peak or Bust” painted on their wagons.

Restaurant 1858 at the Seven Falls. (Broadmoor photo)
Restaurant 1858 at base  the Seven Falls. (Broadmoor photo)

Broadmoor Restaurants’ executive sous-chef David Patterson and chef de cuisine Kathleen Symons oversee a menu that showcases traditional Rocky Mountain flavors and takes its cue from the heritage of the Old West, blending low-country style with early frontier cooking. The menus additional array of German, French, and Creole cuisines inspired by the immigrants who traveled west to seek their fortunes in the gold rush promise to make Restaurant 1858 something of a culinary melting pot. 

Restaurant 1858 offers a menu that changes seasonally and features many local Colorado growers and ranchers, including Broadmoor Farms, Bio Herbs and More, Arkansas Valley Organic Growers and others. All seafood featured on the menu is sustainable, as outlined by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, while Colorado-raised meat is served whenever possible.  

The interior décor features hand-hewn stone and reclaimed barn wood, large wooden beams, hardwood floors, custom lantern mining inspired light fixtures, Gold Rush art from the noteworthy Broadmoor Western Art collection and historic photographs of the area from yesteryear. I can’t wait to see it.

Restaurant 1858 serves lunch and dinner incorporating the same high-quality ingredients that guests expect at The Broadmoor. The menu includes Buttermilk Biscuits & Country Ham, Colorado Rocky Mountain Trout prepared 8 Ways and the 1858 Mixed Grill with Eagles Ranch Quail, Bison Roast and Venison Sausage. Immigrants to the region incorporates German, French and Creole cuisine to make Restaurant 1858 the culinary melting pot of Cheyenne Canyon. For reservations (recommended),  call 844-843-1858.


Fab Fundraiser for Flatirons Food Film Fest

Wine, foodies & song in Boulder.

FlatironsFoodFilmFest-logoThree art forms were showcased at yesterday evening’s Flatirons Food Film Festival fundraiser: cinematic arts, musical arts and, of course, culinary arts. The event opened with food samples from some of the city’s finest chefs and adult beverages. Then there was a fast-moving live auction (some guests scored great deals). Then came short films on food subjects curated by James Beard Award-winner The Perennial Plate, which documents what it calls “adventures in sustainable eating.” Each chef viewed one of the films that inspired the dishes he presented, and in addition to the resulting food/film pairings, four fine singers from Opera on Tap Colorado performed operatic pairings.

Alex Krill & David Query, Jax Fish House

Query, who founded and operates the entire Big Red F Restaurant Group, of which Jax is just one concept, said that “10 Things We love About Italy” inspired him to offer fresh, simple food, preparted with “not a lot of over-thought, just thought.”

David Qurey and the shoulder of Alex Krill (sorry, Chef).
David Qurey and the right shoulder of Alex Krill (sorry, Chef).
“Crispy, creamy and cheezy” (their spelling) polenta with cured tuna, pickled mushrooms and a sauce of sweet corn, basil and olive oil.

Continue reading Fab Fundraiser for Flatirons Food Film Fest

Chimayo’s Southwestern Charms

Durango restaurant’s style and sizzle.

012Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen is a memorable contemporary restaurant in downtown Durango, replacing a most unmemorable Chinese one. Michael Lutfy, whose culinary career took him from Pennsylvania to California (including eight years as executive chef for the Andretti Green Racing Team) and his wife Birgitte, a chef and designer who was born in Denmark and shared chef duties with Andretti, run Chimayo, namesake of a northern New Mexico town where the Chimayo heirloom chile (another namesake) is cultivated. Chef Lutfy uses its chile powder in many wonderful dishes and condiments.

photo by Duffy Brook
The pair of ovens reflected in the restaurant’s full name. (Chimayo  photo by Duffy Brook)
A sharable appetizer of fresh mozzarella and prosciutto.
A sharable appetizer of fresh burrara mozzarella and prosciutto, oven-dried tomatoes and EVOO framed in a  lacy Balsamic vinegar reduction.
“Baseball cut” of top sirloin with herb butter and gorgeous asparagus and potato wedges.
Poblano chile stuffed with a mixture of zucchini, mushroom, corn and a tres quesos filling with a delicate pepita (pumpkin seed) crust. Ribbons of Chimayo red pepper sauce and crema decorate the top. On the side, black beans, saffron rice and cole slaw.
Poblano chile stuffed with a mixture of zucchini, mushroom, corn and a tres quesos filling with a delicate pepita (pumpkin seed) crust. Ribbons of Chimayo red pepper sauce and crema decorate the top. On the side, black beans, saffron rice and cole slaw.
Bacon, poblano and cheddar burger made with house-ground meat on a brioche bun. On the side, potato wedges.
Bacon, poblano and cheddar burger made with house-ground meat on a brioche bun with guajillo aioli, pickled jalapenos and onions. On the side, potato wedges.

Price check: At dinner, “smaller” plates, $8.50-$12 (plus optional add-ons, $1.50-$7); “larger” plates, $21.50-$26 (plus optional add-ons, $5.50-$7); stone-fired pizzas, $12.50-$19; small plates and sandwiches, $14-$16.50.

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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