Category Archives: Chef

RIP, Chef Tell

Television’s engaging Chef Tell died on October 26 of congestive heart failure the age of 63. Born Friedman Paul Erhardt in Stuttgart, Germany, he trained in Europe and became a pioneer television chef. He owned several Philadelphia restaurants, wrote cookbooks and was a spokesman for various kitchen products. He made his television debut in that city in 1974 on a local Philadelphia program called “Dialing for Dollars.” WFMZ-TV was his home station. He appeared on TV shows including “Regis and Kathie Lee,” “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” specials for QVC, and “Saturday Night Live,” where he displayed is comedic as well as his culinary talents. He had his own PBS program, “In the Kitchen With Chef Tell.” The Stuttgart-born Erhardt earned the nickname “Tell” after playing William Tell in a school play.

Keystone Chefs at the James Beard House

Yesterday, Colorado again cooked for New York at the James Beard House, where Keystone Resort’s top chefs produced A Taste of the Rockies. Here is menu:

Hand-Passed Appetizer by Steve Nguyen and Steve Vlass of the Keystone Conference Center
Colorado Fingerling Potato Salad
Rabbit and Olathe Sweet Corn Pierogi
Soy and Molasses Tea-Smoked Duck and Chile
Colorado Braised Elk
Accompanied by Soligo “Millesimato” Prosecco 2005

First Course by Jason Kassib of the Keystone Ranch
Tuna Toro with Matsutaki Mushroom
Orange Miso/Lobster Broth Udon Noodles
Paired with Chehalem “Inox” Willamette Valley, Oregon, Chardonnay 2006.

Second Course by Brian Baker of the Ski Tip Lodge
Colorado Pheasant Roulade with Caramelized Sun Dried Plums and House Cured Bacon
Sous-Vide Leg and Quinoa Ravioli
Paired with Arroyo Grande Valley, California, Pinot Noir 2004.

Entree by David Scott of The Alpenglow Stube
Petite Colorado Lamb Chop, Shepherds Pie with a Cherry Demi-Glace
Paired with Hurricane Ridge, Washington, Cabernet Franc 2004.

“Salad” Course by Scott Radek ot the Keystone Lodge & Spa
Fruit Salad” Made with Foie Gras Larded Buffalo Tenderloin with Creamed Spinach and Fall Turnips
Paired with Orin Swift Cellars, The Prisoner, Napa Valley, California 2005.

Dessert by Chris Brinkman and Eric Hall, also from the Keystone Lodge & Spa
Western Slope Pear Tart with Haystack Goat Cheese Ice Cream and Cajeta Caramel
Paired with Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer, Washington/Oregon 2006

Chocolate by Ned Archibald of the Keystone Conference Center
Mignardise – Colorado Ore Cart Truffle Selection

Anniversary Dinner at Black Cat Bistro

We celebrated our 14th anniversary earlier this week at Boulder’s Black Cat Bistro Métropolitain. We had loved chef Eric Skokan’s creations when he was at Gold Lake Resort high in the hills above Boulder and were thrilled when he opened his own restaurant just a few blocks from home. We also enjoyed the restaurant when we dined there late last year during the First Bite Boulder promotion and resolved to go back — a resolution we didn’t keep until this week. How time flies.

We made our reservation on-line through OpenTable, and in the special request section, noted that this would be our anniversary dinner. Our waitress brought not only menus and a wine list, but also two glasses of champagne to start off in proper celebratory style. Black Cat is a restaurant that will add something extra for a birthday, anniversary or other special event. When you are celebrating something, let the restaurant know. But please, be a sport and don’t fabricate one every time you go out!

We tried to be unobtrusive and not use the flash when we took pictures of the food, which while courteous, produced uninspiring images. The best of the photographic lot was dessert (above right) — and even the best doesn’t do justice to the lovely presentations. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So back to dinner. Fortunately, much, much better than the photography. Wonderful, in fact. An amuse morsel. The wine list. Slices of fine bread, offered with a choice of olive oil or butter. A nice touch, because most restaurants decide for you but will gladly bring the other if you ask. Back to the wines. Barbera for him. Chard for me. Now really back to dinner.

My husband started with Brillat Savarin cheese, a super-rich, semi-soft triple-cream served with roasted grapes and with two slices of fine bread. The cheese is from France and the grapes are from Eric’s neighbor’s arbor. I selected Eric’s Kitchen Salad, because when we there so many months ago, he said that he was planning to grow as many of his own herbs and as much of his other produce as possible. The intention of November was fulfilled this summer. Every bite had that undefinable summer-fresh quality. And the sprinkle of crushed hazelnuts atop the pile of greens provided a lovely contrasting texture. I wish I could make vinaigrette like that!

My husband’s grilled ribeye was perfection. Eric buys a steer at time from Frank Silva’s Highland ranch in Erie and develops his recipes for different cuts. Grilled only on the outside to seal in the juices and displaying the beautiful pink that is truly medium rare throughout the inside made this superior to many steakhouse versions that I’ve tasted — and though I am never tempted to order a steak or a prime rib, I always have a bite (or two) of his. The ribeye was perched on a foundation of truffle risotto and was served with roasted tomatoes and oyster and shiitaki mushrooms.

I was in a mood for gnocchi and I always treasure an opportunity to taste truffles (both the fungus and the chocolate variety, BTW), so I selected the Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Italian black truffles and braised celery. I love diver scallops, so I jumped at the opportunity to substitute them for the grilled Highland beef. It’s early for truffle season in Italy, so these didn’t yet pack the intense flavor punch that comes later in fall, but that is a small quibble on an otherwise outstanding meal. And yes, another glass of wine was nice too.

We shared a Pistachio Financier for dessert. I’m afraid that the photo does not really do it justice. It consisted of three cubes of light yet moist cake with poached peaches, a mantle of brandy custard and candied pistachios. Eric piped “Happy Anniversary” in dark chocolate on the rim of the plate. That fine dinner made it that much happier.

Sunflower Quietly Changes Hands

On August 27, veteran restaurateur Jon Pell sold Boulder’s Sunflower Restaurant, whose theme is “Fine Organic Dining,” to Jef Forsberg. Yes, that’s Jef with one F (as in chef) and Forsberg (as in the former Av’s hockey star, locally nicknamed Peter the Great). Jef Forsberg’s culinary ambitions are as lofty as Peter Forsberg’s were in the hockey arena, and Boulder diners will be the winners as he aims high.

He plans to build on Sunflower’s solid reputation and go farther in refreshing the menu and service to make the experience more creative and contemporary. Forsberg grew up with Chinese and West Indian foods, went to the French Culinary Institute and cooked in several of Manhattan’s best kitchens. His background melds French, Malaysian and the creative urban-yuppie cuisine pioneered by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe. Forsberg worked Michael Romano, a leading chef in the Meyer pantheon, at Hudson Yards Catering, which uses many Union Square recipes.

The torch has passed from one owner/chef to another, and Forsberg is tinkering with recipes and revising the menu now with the self-imposed goal of readying a new menu by October 8. The popular salad bar (lunch and brunch) and weekend brunch will remain. “I came from Manhattan’s Upper West Side,” he said. “That’s brunch central.”

Sunflower Restaurant is at 1701 Pearl Street, Boulder; 303-440-0220.

Colorado Chefs Preview James Beard House Dinner

It seems that New York’s James Beard House can’t get enough of Colorado chefs and vice versa. Hosea Rosenberg, chef at the Jax Fish House in Boulder, and Sheila Lucero, chef at Jax Fish House in Denver, will be cooking at the James Beard House on Thursday, October 11. There’s a touch of irony to “Fish House Feast,” given that Colorado is nearly a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, while the Beard House is not more than two or three miles from the historic Fulton Fish Market in lower Manhattan. Obviously, the seafood featured in three of the five courses does not come from Colorado, but many of the other ingredients do.

Later note from Claire: As Anonymous correctly pointed out in comment #1, the Fulton Fish Market has moved to the Bronx. In the second comment, I replied that I actually do know that. I added that my choice of words was misleading. I stand corrected — or at least clarified. In any case, I should have written that the James Beard House is not far “from the former site of the historic Fulton Fish Market.”

The two chefs are doing a send-off dinner at Jax in Boulder on Tuesday, October 2. Think of it as a rehearsal dinner. The cost is $75 per person. Call the restaurant for reservations; 303-Here’s the menu:

  • Stacked Dungeness Crab with Avocado, Preserved Lemon and Vanilla
  • Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc 2006
  • Smoked Glacier Lake Rainbow Trout with Fennel Pollen, Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese and Grilled Plum Vinaigrette
  • J Brut Rosé NV
  • Seared Baja Scallop with Celery Root, Hazel Dell King Oyster Mushrooms, Cured Pork Belly and Madeira
  • Morgan Double L Chardonnay 2005
  • Roasted Rack of Colorado Lamb with Crawfish and Corn Polenta, Abbondanza Farm Root Vegetables and Toasted Garlic Jus
  • Longboard Vineyards Syrah 2004
  • Ela Family Farms Caramel Apples with Seven Flavors
  • J Pear Liqueur Toddy

The cost for the New York dinner is $125 for Beard House members and $155 for everyone else, which includes the following cocktails and hors d’ouevres that are not part of the Colorado dinner:

  • Ahi Tuna with Wakame, Wasabi Peas, Ginger and Chile
  • Kusshi Oysters with Sake–Cucumber Mignonette and White Cranberry Granité
  • Cider-Marinated Halibut Cheeks
  • Blue Prawn Dynamite
  • Jax Aviation (Beefeater Gin, Pama Pomegranate Liqueur and Lemon)
  • Rosemary Martinis (Ketel One Vodka, Rosemary Syrup, Sparkling Pear and Lemon)

Foodies Head for Frisco’s Food Hedz

Affordable dining in the mountain resort belt.

Colorado’s resort areas are blessed with an abundance exceptional fine — and often exceptionally expensive — restaurants. The handful of more moderately priced restaurants tend to be either 1) sports bars or pubs; 2) pizza joints; or 3) Tex-Mex eateries. So it is a joy to find Food Hedz World Cafe in Frisco, near Interstate 70 and 8 or 9 miles from Breckenridge. Its culinary pedigree is as pure as Summit County snow. The seasonally changing menu is carefully crafted from natural and organic ingredients, yet moderately priced. Owner/chef David Welch cooked at various restaurants at nearby Keystone, one of the most food-oriented of all Colorado resorts, ending up as executive chef at the elegant, epicurean restaurant called Keystone Ranch — an example of an exceptionally fine and exceptionally expensive restaurant.

Welch left the Keystone culinary cocoon to open Food Hedz, but he took with him the resort’s high standards of quality, preparation and presentation — while keeping prices low. Lunch entrees are all under $10. Dinner entrees are under $20, including a choice of soup or salad and freshly baked bread, which is definitely worth mentioning. Three of us went for a late post-hike late lunch, and the portions were so ample that even we hungry hikers were too full for dessert.

I don’t normally care for white bread, but this version is really good. Cut into inch-thick slabs, it is sturdy enough to stand up to the very fine, very thick Reuben (top right), made with corned buffalo, Swiss cheese, house-made sauerkraut, divine potato salad and a small dish of pickled vegetables.

My Wood Grilled Chicken Salad (bottom right) combined generous chunks of moist chicken in a lovely curry mayonnaise, tangy dried cherries, toasted pumpkin seeds shared the plate with organic baby lettuce and two slices of that luscious bread grilled with a bit of tomato and cheese. My husband also ordered a bowl of thick corn chowder that was so sweet that it could have been dessert.

The restaurant is pleasant and unpretentious. Tile floors, wooden tables, warm stucco walls (perhaps a remnant of the Mexican restaurant that once occupied the space), bright posters and other art on the walls, including mountaineering images lining the corridor to the restrooms.

At lunch, you order from the counter and pick up your food, but we were so busy talking that before we noticed that it was up, it was brought to us. Dinner is table-service. Wine and beer are also available too — as in any restaurant with such quality cuisine.

Food Hedz is located at 842 Summit Boulevard, which is probably totally useless unless you’re the mail carrier. It is more useful to know that it is located in a strip shopping center on the west side of Colorado 9, north of Wal-Mart and south of Safeway. Look for the Wells Fargo bank. FoodHedz is just to left, under a sign that only announces: Cafe.

The free Summit Stage bus stops at that mall. Lunch is served between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m Tuesday through Saturday. We showed up a few minutes after 3:00, the “open” light was still on, and Chef David Welch whipped up our orders for us. Another table or two were still lingering when we left. Dinner is served Tuesday through Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m and Friday until 9:00 p.m. The phone number is 970-668-2000

Changing of the Guard — and the Weitzman

Major changes are afoot on the Denver restaurant scene. Troy Guard is leaving (or perhaps has already left) the Sullivan Restaurant Group, where he has been executive chef, reportedly to eventually open his own restaurant, and Rebecca Weitzman will soon pack up her knives for the last time at the Cafe Star to move to New York. At last report in a phone conversation with Westword restaurant reviewer Jason Sheehan, she wasn’t yet certain where she in the Big Apple would be cooking. Replacements have not been revealed for either.

Guard has been the culinary brains behind the Sullivan Group’s Ocean (Cherry Creek North, right), nine75 (south of downtown and also nine75 North at 120th and Federal) and Oscar’s Steaks and Cigars (downtown), each offering such different fare from the others that none feels like part of a “group.” He has appeared on the Food Network’s “The Great American Seafood Cook-Off” and at least twice cooked at James Beard House. His wife, Leigh Sullivan, is the daughter of restaurant developer Jim Sullivan. She told the Rocky Mountain News‘s John Lehndorff, “At the moment, Troy’s putting together a deal to open his very own restaurant. It’s just a matter of finding the right space.” The Cafe Star is known for upscale comfort food, as is nine75. Ocean specializes in seafood and Oscar’s in steak.