Category Archives: Chef

Boulder — An Underrated Food City?

Thrillist-logo Thrillist.com the latest to “discover” Boulder’s vibrant food scene.

I’m always pleased when national media shine the spotlight on Colorado’s food scene — even more so when Boulder is singled out. But I was startled when Thrillist.com selected Boulder as for its roundup of “The 7 Most Underrated American Food Cities in 2015.”

Underrated? Boulder’s highly regarded, even nationally known restaurants are written about all the time, and Boulder  boasts one of the best farmers’ markets in the land and has been the wellspring for natural and organic food companies starting with Celestial Seasonings to whichever food or beverage startup will launch next weekend.

Thrillist.com tasked Cindy Sutter, the Boulder Daily Camera food editor, with writing about the Boulder food scene. She focused on the restaurant aspect, understandably including “the usual suspects.” Here’s what she wrote:

“When people think of America’s culinary capitals they usually look to the coasts: New York, San  Francisco,      and New Orleans all regularly top the lists of the best American food cities. But hiding in the ‘flyover states’ and in ‘harbors-that-not-many-people-live-in’ is a cache of culinary talent that’s just as worthy of sinking your teeth into.

“We’ve already touched on seven of these underdog cities, but our country’s cupboards are hiding so much more deliciousness and so many cities’ scenes have exploded in the past year, so we thought it worthwhile to give props to seven more gastronomically obsessed towns. And to show just what makes each great, we tapped a local writer to share what makes that food scene unique. Here are seven cities you’ll immediately want to visit.”

About Boulder: “Boulder residents would likely be surprised to find their town on an underrated food city list. And it’s not only because Bon Appétit magazine picked Boulder as America’s Foodiest Town in 2010. Take a walk down Pearl Street in downtown Boulder, and you’ll see what the magazine folks saw.

“Start at Frasca Food and Wine, where co-owners Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson and Bobby Stuckey have two James Beard Awards. Stuckey is one of 118 Master Sommeliers worldwide, as are six other Boulder residents. Not bad for a town with a population of 100,000 and change. Head west (toward the mountains) and make another stop at OAK at fourteenth, where local meats, vegetables, and even luscious Colorado peaches take a turn in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven.

“Veer a block or so off Pearl to find the Black Cat, whose chef-owner, Eric Skokan, raises the restaurant’s vegetables (including heirloom dent corn for GMO-free polenta), as well as ducks, pigs, and beef cattle on his farm on county-owned land preserved for agricultural uses. This year, Skokan released a cookbook, ‘Farm Fork Food’, that he edited on his smartphone from the seat of his tractor. Or try The Kitchen, which has nourished relationships with local organic farmers since it opened in 2004; its nonprofit Kitchen Community builds school gardens, placing more than a 100 in Chicago, where it also recently opened a restaurant to positive reviews. You also might want to try Salt, where the food is local, seasonal, and GMO-free.

“Food, health, and sustainable agriculture have a long, intertwining history in Boulder. The bustling Boulder County Farmers’ Market, also near Pearl Street, got its start in 1987. The town that popularized herbal tea and tofu also had a strong hand in craft beer, with Boulder County boasting 40 breweries and counting. After you’ve taken in the scene, do what Boulderites do: eat and run (or hike or bike). There are trails just a few steps away from those amazing restaurants.

“And if that’s not enough for you, go east a couple of miles and find ‘Top Chef’ winner Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly, which received well-deserved national attention when it opened last year.” – Cindy Sutter, Daily Camera food editor.

Rounding out the “most underrated list” are Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Portland, Maine and Providence, R.I.

Well-Priced Wine Pairing with Master Somm’

1515 Restaurant’s May 27 dinner promises great food & wines to match for $65.

1515Restaurant-logoI don’t usually post news about wine-pairing dinners because there are so many, But this one caught my eye for two reasons. First, the wines will be introduced by Emily Papach, the 19th woman in the nation to have earned the title of Master Sommelier (out of 21 total). She will lead a very special wine dinner (menu below) at 1515 Restaurant in Denver on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:00 p.m.  Second was the price. The dinner including paired wines is only $65 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  Believe me when I say that this is a helluva a deal for such a dinner. Food alone at wine-pairing dinners is often that much, with the wines additional.

1515 Restaurant is a fine-dining restaurant known for modern American cuisine in a relaxed yet elegant setting. “This is a rare opportunity to get to know one of the most respected wine experts in the US and taste wines paired with food she recommends,” said restaurateur Gene Tang. himself a First Level sommelier.  “We’re going to have a lot of fun with this event. I’m sure there will be some spirited debates over which ones go best with each course.” I’m really looking forward to this evening.

This splendid disk of roast duck with mixed greens and duck cracklings on mac-and-cheese is not on the Chappalette dinner menu. I offer it here only to show a 1515 Restaurant presentation.
Roast duck with mixed greens and duck cracklings on mac-and-cheese is not on the Chappellet dinner menu. I offer it here only to show a 1515 Restaurant presentation.

About the Sommelier

Papach.
Papach.

Emily Papach got on the fast track to Master Sommelier certification, sometimes called the toughest education in the world. After graduating from the University of Virignia in 2044, she started working at Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern in New York City. She was a wine captain and cellar assistant, while completing the Diploma studies for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.  In 2008, she relocated to her home state of Virginia, to become a salesperson for specialty importer and Master Sommelier, Fran Kysela.  Emily then enrolled in the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Course in 2009 and completed the Certified Exam that same year.  In the spring of 2010, she passed the Advanced Exam in Anaheim on her first attempt. Not many Master Somms pass the first time. She is currently the national sales analyst and wine educator at Chappellet Vineyard, a family-owned Napa Valley winery that was founded in 1967.

Below is the menu that Gene Tang has planned and the wines Emily Papach has selected to pair with it. A bonus: Each guest at Wednesday’s dinner will be entered into a drawing to win a 1.5-liter bottle of Cambria wine.

The Menu

First Course

Crispy Fried Hen Egg | Frog Leg ragout, Spring Pea, Ramp, Vin Juane
Wine: Cambria “Tepusquet Vineyard’ Viognier 2013

Second Course

Roasted Sturgeon | Lemon Beurre Blanc, Fiddlehead Fern, Caper
Wine: Cambria “Katherine’s Vineyard” Chardonnay

Third Course

Seared Beef Tenderloin | Bone Marrow Crusted, Rainbow Chard, Wild Mushroom Bordeaulaise
Wine: Freemark Abbey “Sycamore Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Fourth Course

Chocolate and Sea Salt  – Cocoa Nib Tuiles, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Wine: Cambria “Tequsquet Vinyard” Syrah 2012

Reservations can still be made by calling the restaurant at 303-571-0011 or online.

Kelly Liken Sells Vail Restaurant Space

Acclaimed chef shutting namesake eatery.

Kelly Liken
Kelly Liken

Kelly Liken is one of Vail’s star chefs, but her name will soon be off the namesake restaurant she opened in the Gateway Building back in 2004, when she was just 27 years old. The last dinner service will take place on Saturday, May 16.  She says that Kelly Liken, the brand, is not going anywhere. She and her husband and partner, Rick Colomitz, are considering what the next iteration of the Kelly Liken brand will be. Meanwhile,  a new restaurant called Vintage will open in the Kelly Liken space in the Gateway building in June in time for the summer season. Brodie Broderick, owner and general manager at Vintage, says it will be “an all-day concept, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at ‘approachable price points’,” in addition to late night snacks.

She plans to continue working Sowing Seeds, a program in local schools that teaches students about the joy of growing, harvesting, preparing and eating their own food. She also plans to participate in events such as the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour and has plans to continue culinary programs such as the Annual Vail to Aspen Horseback Ride this summer.

Liken’s honors include being named one of the “Next Generation of Women Chefs” by Bon Appetit magazine and appearing on television shows as “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef.”  She has cooked at the James Beard House in New York City. Most recently, she was part of the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour in Vail.  Fans are encouraged to enjoy one more handcrafted cocktail or savor one more sticky bun sundae, so Restaurant Kelly Liken will be open and taking reservations for dinner through Saturday, May 16. Currently on the website is a spring special — three courses for $45 and also a wine special. Reserve by calling 970-479-0175.

Matushia Coming to Cherry Creek North

Acclaimed Japanese restaurant to open in Denver.

Matsuhisa-logoFirst Aspen, then Vail and next Denver. That’s been the trajectory that famed chef and restaurateur Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has taken in Colorado. Matsuhisa Cherry Creek will be a 7,800-square-foot restaurant at Steele Creek, which the developer describes as a “transformative” apartment and retail project at 1st Avenue and Steele Street in Denver. Steele Creek represents the best in Denver luxury apartment living. The 218-apartment mixed-use project boasts such amenities as a 24-hour concierge with premier resident services, a spectacular roof-deck pool and lounge, a fully appointed private entertainment lounge, a 24-hour fitness center and Matsuhisa with its world-renowned cuisine.

Matsuhisa Cherry Creek is expected to open at the end of 2015. The interior design will be handled by Denver- and Aspen-based Rowland + Broughton. Matsuhisa plans to service the roof deck pool atop the 12-story building. Residents will also be able to order food and drinks for their residences, as well as have Matsuhisa cater their events. And more prosaically, he restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner. Born and raised in Saitama, Japan, chef Matsuhisa is a classically trained sushi chef who developed his inventive style when he opened a sushi bar in Peru. His career has been defined by finding new ways of incorporating different cultures, ingredients and styles into Japanese cuisine. He opened his first Matsuhisa restaurant in the United States in Beverly Hills in 1987, and it soon became a magnet for food lovers and celebrities.

Matsuhisa was chosen as one of the Top Ten Restaurant Destinations in the world by the New York Times in 1993. Some of chef  Matsuhisa’s personal honors from the culinary community include being named one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine (1989), Southern California’s Rising Stars by Los Angeles Times Magazine (1998), induction into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation (2002), numerous nominations for Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006), and being named One of the 11 Most Influential Chefs of the Decade by Madrid Fusion (2009).

Tortilla Chip Tasting (& Brunch) at Lola

Food Should Taste Good makes products that live up to the brand name.

018Food Should Taste Good is based in Minneapolis, but this line of tasty natural tortilla chips, crackers and other snack foods could be a Boulder area company. After all, the products are gluten-free, cholesterol-free, have zero grams of trans- fats and are even kosher, and some varieties are also certified vegan. Certified organic is the only desirable attribute that is missing, but you can’t have everything — and since it is part of giant General Mills, I’m not holding my breath for organic. What these products do have is great taste — hence the name that resonates with me, because I believe that taste is really important.

A public relations crew came out from Massachusetts on Saturday to host a tasting at Lola Mexican Fish House, a Highland eatery known as much for its brunch as its seafood. I have been wanting to go there for a long time, so I’m grateful to FSTG. Lola, part of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, is something of a melding of Jax Fish House (four metro area locations plus Kansas City) on the seafood side and Centro Latin Kitchen and Zolo Grill (both in Boulder) on the Latin side. This  chef-driven group was founded in 1994 by David Query with Jamey Fader as culinary director. Both are well-known veteran chefs in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

The tasting took place in the basement bar, a venue that along with good brunch drinks, gave the event an after-dark air. In fact, it was a bit of a shock to come upstairs into the bright light of the early afternoon. Lola’s chef de cuisine Kevin Grossi put out a selection of guacamole and assorted dips to mix and match with various Food Should Taste Good chips flavors. Blue corn chips are my favorites. I kind of liked dipping guacamole chips into Lola’s fine guac, but in truth, every combo was good.

I couldn't get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.
I couldn’t get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.

Continue reading Tortilla Chip Tasting (& Brunch) at Lola

Chef Kleinman Wins ‘Restaurant Startup’

TV victory helps The Inventing Room’s brick-and-mortar location come into being.

InventingRoom-logoColorado’s magic-making chef, Ian Kleinman, out own master of molecular cuisine, has won “Restaurant Startup,” CNBC’s entrepreneurial competition show. Kleinman and partner Mike Coberlain pitched their concept and cuisine to judges Joe Bastianich and Tim Love, and came away with a $150,000 investment. Egalitarian Ian wants to open an affordable, friendly restaurant that showcases the fun of food — or as he puts it, “gastro-fun.” He has been having that kind of fun since he was executive chef at O’s Steakhouse in the Westin Westminster Hotel. Molecular and meat were strange kitchen-fellows, but he honed his craft there and went on to become a popular caterer with parlor tricks galore.

Kleinman reportedly created the prototype of his restaurant – from the design up – for free, with or without help from other creative sorts. If I interpret this correctly, it means that his winnings can all go into the brick-and-mortar Inventing Room that is to open at 2020 Lawrence Street in the Ballpark area. An ice cream shop is scheduled to launch on June 1. “On the Town” columnist Penny Parker wrote, “The ice cream shop will feature composed confections such as a compressed mango and strawberry kabob with salted carmel and chocolate, a carrot cake cookie ice cream sandwich with toasted marshmallow and cream cheese ice cream dipped in liquid nitrogen and a robot that will make chocolate truffles. Oh, and you can also get a pedestrian scoop of ice cream such as Kleinman’s popular hot fudge flavor and classic vanilla bean.”

Blackbelly is Hosea Rosenberg’s Latest Hit

Boulder-based “Top Chef” champ’s restaurant also a winner.

011Hosea Rosenberg, the Taos-bred and Boulder-based chef who won Season 5 of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” took his time parlaying his renown and his revenues into a permanent restaurant. While he was planning his next step, he did personal appearances, took on catering gigs and became a farmer too. Hosea originally studied engineering, and that deliberate thinking came to the fore in planning this restaurant.

As he put it when he opened his East Boulder restaurant/market/butchery biz last November, “I have been conjuring up this scenario for years — a restaurant and market, with a whole animal butchery program and a kitchen ‘laboratory’ where we can experiment, tinker and dream. Blackbelly Restaurant, Bar & Butcher is “the culmination of thousands of ideas, years of brainstorming, and a whole lot of cooking.”

Rosenberg was all smiles as he was ready to launch Blackbelly in November.
Rosenberg was all smiles as he was ready to launch Blackbelly in November.

I was in Denver on the day of Blackbelly’s media preview four months ago, so I arrived late — after introductions and remarks had been made and when most of the food tastes were finished. When Hosea told me that there had been a last-minute plumbing crisis, I thought that the pressure of TV — no matter how unreal reality television actually is — must have helped him with that hurdle. I didn’t get much to eat on that first visit, but I liked what I tasted and vowed to return. I don’t know why it took so long, but my husband and I finally met two friends there last night. The earliest available reservations were for 7:45 p.m., and when we left a bit after 10, people were still ordering, eating and lingering — a testimonial to Blackbelly’s success. Continue reading Blackbelly is Hosea Rosenberg’s Latest Hit