Category Archives: Chef

Boulder Chef on "Today" — Tomorrow

According to a big page one story in today’s Boulder Daily Camera, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, chef and co-owner of Frasca Food & Wine, is scheduled to appear on “The Today Show” on Monday morning, probably in the 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. segment (MST). This long-running morning show has a big food section on its website, including lots of recipes. The Camera reported that Mackinnon-Patterson plans to make three soups (chestnut/apple, cauliflower/cheese and tomato minestrone).

The Camera also noted that Mackinnon-Patterson and his wife, Allison, recently welcomed a baby daughter, which might explain why she sold her Pearl Street cafe called Allison Boutique (the cafe that replaced it is called The Cup). Take a look at the Camera story. We’ve gone to Frasca a few times and always had heavenly food and wines to match, and I have written about this high-profile Boulder restaurant too, but I learned things I didn’t know before about the restaurant and its people from this piece.

Frasca is at 1738 Pearl Street in Boulder; 303-442-6966.

Santa Fe (NM) Comes to Santa Fe (Boulevard)

Upscale NM Eater to CO

The Santa Fe Tequila Company, an upscale (but moderately priced) New Mexican eatery, celebrates its grand opening next week, bringing swanky Santa Fe-style cuisine and ambiance to Denver’s burgeoning five-block Art District on Santa Fe. Santa Fe cuisine is that fortuitous blending of Spanish, Mexican, Cowboy and Pueblo Indian culinary cultures, presented with style and flair, and usually accompanied by tequila (straight with lime and salt or in mixed drinks), sangria or wine; beer optional).

The new restaurant is the brainchild of Bill Kennedy and Joe Falko. Kennedy brought a club, lounge and tapas bar called The 9th Door to LoDo. Falko is in the real estate biz, but his passion for Santa Fe cuisine is palpable when he talks about this new venture. Kevin Marquet, executive chef at The 9th Door (and before that at MODA Ristrorante and a couple of country clubs), has assumed that role at the Santa Fe Tequila Company too. He has created such dynamite lunch specialties as a chili cheeseburger served with Spanish-style aïoli (derived from Marquet’s tapas time, no doubt) and fall-off-the-bone cowboy-style ribs at dinner (I’m not guessing at the provenance of that dish).

The restaurant with tequila with in its middle name stocks 60 tequilas, some with little known labels, some very moderately priced ($4-$5 a shot) to ultra-pricey premium labels (up to $80 a shot). Food prices are reasonable too, with entrées $8 to $12 lunch and $12 to $18 at dinner.
The restaurant is at 901 West Tenth Street, Denver; 303-534-7900.

Just as Santa Fe authenticity is coming to Denver, the original bastion of Santa Fe cuisine has changed hands. Mark Miller who is credited with creating this distinctive modern New Mexican cuisine has sold the Coyote Cafe that he founded to a quartet of new managing partners (Sara Chapman, Tori Mendes, Quinn Stephenson and Eric DiStefano), all of whom have been associated with the Santa Fe, NM, restaurant. Chapman and Stephenson began busing tables there as teenagers, which makes for a nice culinary Cinderella story. Mendes has been managing the restaurant for more than three years, and DiStefano has more recently been executive chef at Geronimo Restaurant. The Coyote Cafe menu will probably be tweaked, but the core concept will continue. The Coyote Cafe is at West Water Street, Santa Fe; 505-983-1615.

Eat! Drink! = Lunch Delight in Edwards


As I was recently researching hot restaurants in Colorado ski resorts, whenever I asked Vail locals for suggestions, the names Dish (upstairs) and Eat! Drink! (downstairs) in Edwards came up. I was in Edwards today on an assignment for Vail Home magazine and had lunch with Stephen Lloyd Wood, my editor there. When he asked where I might want to eat, I didn’t hesitate to ask about Dish.

Dish is open only in the evening, so we settled in at a window table at Eat! Drink! downstairs. This bright, imaginative establishment — with each wall painted a bright contrasting color — serves light fare and sells about 150 artisanal cheeses and other gourmet products in part of the space and displays some 600 wines in the other. Christopher Irving and Pollyanna Forster opened Eat! Drink! in August 2004. Both came from the restaurant business, so they set up the wine retail area like a restaurant wine list, grouping the wines by varietal and posting what Chris described as “tutorials” about each.

Steve and I started with an Olive Boat, half-a dozen kinds of green and black olives arrayed in an dish that must have been nine inches long. From the small lunch menu, we both honed in on the panini in general and the Provence in particular: fresh chevre, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes and mesculin on tasty toasted flatbread. He ordered his with Boulder chips; I ordered mine with a simple green salad. At $9 each, panini here represent a real Vail Valley value. Steve, a former bicycle racer who has chowed his way through Europe covering the Tour de France, kept saying this was the best panini he has had outside of Italy.

Chef Jenna Johansen partnered with Chris and Polly to open the upstairs restaurant and wine bar. She trained at Johnson & Wales and also in the heart of Italy’s Chianti area of Tuscany. She holds forth in a spacious open kitchen. We popped upstairs for a look while the prep work for this evening was underway. If I ever get there for dinner, I want to perch on one of the six stools at the kitchen bar and watch Johansen cook and plate.

The menu changes weekly (and is updated on the restaurant’s website). She specializes in small plates, carefully prepared and exquisitely presented — like the organic beet salad (above left). “I love to watch people enjoy the food,” she said. She also likes it when they ask about something she is preparing. Dish’s dishes are available a la carte or for $25 for a six-course chef’s tasting menu, which is an even more impressive Vail Valley value.

Dish Restaurant and Eat! Drink! are at 56 Edwards Village Boulevard, Edwards; 970-926-3433 (Dish) and 970-926-1393 (Eat! Drink!).

AAA Five Diamonds to Penrose Room


The elegant Penrose Room at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs has become the state’s first and only restaurant to be awarded Five Diamonds from AAA. This is a very big honor. Only 57 restaurants in all of North America and Bermuda were on the previous Five Diamond list; the Penrose Room’s announcement (and celebratory lunch) took place just yesteday, and the full updated list has not been published yet — or at least I have not seen it. However, I don’t imagine there will be many more retaurants on this year’s roster than on the last one.

The AAA Five Diamond criteria are rigid, and the anonymous evaluators are merciless. They are not inclined to overlook even the smallest flaws in the culinary, hospitality or service aspects of a fine dining restaurant — the things that elevate a restaurant (or hotel) from a very commendable Four Stars to a rarifed fifth. In addition to the established objective criteria, seamlessness and consistency are taken into account in evaluating a restaurant for such a high honor. It is said that the leap from Four to Five diamonds is one of the most difficult for a restaurant to achieve

Bertrand Bouquin (right), executive chef both of the Penrose Room and Summit restaurant, has been there before. He came to The Broadmoor from the Masionette in Cincinnati, which held AAA’s Five Diamond award for a record 41 years until it closed in 2005. I fully expect the Penrose Room to reach such longevity as one of AAA’s top-shelf restaurants. After all, in the hotel category, The Broadmoor has earned Five Diamonds from AAA for 31 years, Five Stars from Mobil for 48 years and top honors from other organizations and magazines that publish annual lists of “bests” and “favorites.”

In addition to being a tribute to Bouquin, the Five Diamond Award, by extension, honored Broadmoor president and CEO Stephen J. Bartolin, food and beverage manager Craig Reed, Broadmoor executive chef Siegfried Eichenberger (below, far right), and the Broadmoor wine director Tim Baldwin. Specifically for the Penrose Room, Bouquin’s culinary and service teammates are headed by executive restaurant pastry chef Rèmy Frünfrock (near right), general manager/maitre d’ Duane Thompson and sommeliers Wendi Walk and Evan Faber. The whole team — from top toques to busboys — came out after lunch for a well-deserved ovation.

The Penrose Room was totally remodeled less than two years ago, and like other Broadmoor makeovers, it was done so perfectly that one would think it has looked just that way since the hotel opened in 1918 (90th anniversary coming right up!). In fact, today’s interpretation of early 20th-century style is much more opulent and elegant the the original, and in another fact, the Penrose Room opened “recently” — in 1961. It crowns the South Tower, with stunning westward views toward Cheyenne Mountain and eastward overlooking Colorado Springs and the Plains beyond.

During yesterday’s celebratory luncheon, the kitchen and wait staffs demonstrated why the Penrose Room earned its fifth diamond. Perfect, discreet service. Perfect attention to detail. Exquisite presentation. After drinks and beautiful passed hors d’oeuvres in the lounge, the following lunch was served in the Penrose Room:

Amuse Bouche

Black Truffle Gnocchi and Wild Mushroom Fricassée

A Tasting of Penrose Room Appetizers

Foie Gras Ballotine with Caramelized Apple Butter
American Kobe Beef Tartare with Harissa Relish
Golden Beets Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
Dungeness Crab Bisque
Ahi Tuna Carpaccio and Crispy Sweet Bread “Virtello Tannato”

Wine: C. von Schubert, Maximum Grünhäuser Herrenberg Riesling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany, 2005

Entrée

Halibut Slowly Cooked in Black Olive Oil and Roasted Maine Lobster
Baby Root Vegetables with Lovage

Wine: Ghislaine Berthod, 1er Cru Les Véroilles Chambolle-Musigny, Burgundy, France, 2004

Dessert

Venezuelan Chocolate Parfait with Cocoa Nougatine
Salted Caramels
Pear William Ice Cream
Wine: Royal Tokaji, Aszú 5 Puttonyos, Hungary, 2003

Coffee, Tea and Chocolates and Mignardises

While the lunch was swank and swell, the welcome was warm and genuine — which is another element that AAA’s full-time evaluators consider. What an honor for the Penrose Room. What an honor for The Broadmoor. What an honor for Colorado. What an honor for me to have been among the guests who celebrated this award.

Two Chefs End Short Reigns

Before I went to England and Europe last month, a friend and I had a wonderful dinner at Montecito in Denver. Chef Adam Mali was there that slow evening, ordered for us and even joined us for part of the meal. It was a delicicious, delightful, enlightening evening. The dinner has been on my to-blog-about list, but I didn’t manage to do so before I left for three weeks. Mali intimated that he would not be staying in Colorado for much longer, and now, Jason Sheehan reports in this week’s Westword that he is indeed leaving Montecito, probably for California — and perhaps has already done so. Just this past Saturday, we enjoyed First Bite Boulder at Boulder’s Restaurant 4580. There was caginess when chef Eric Laslow’s name was mentioned. It appears that he too is leaving after just a few months at the kitchen helm there. I believe that this blog was the first to report on Laslow’s arrival at 4580, and if I had been swifter on the uptake on Saturday, I probably would have been the first to report on his departure. As it turned out, Sheehan scooped me.

Chef Ian Kleinman’s Culinary Alchemy

In 1995, when Charles Dale became the first Colorado chef to be named as one of Food & Wine magazine’s 10 Best New Chefs of the Year, he owned and operated Aspen’s highly acclaimed Renaissance Restaurant. Formal, pricey, highly regarded and multiply honored, the restaurant was the place to dine in Aspen for several years. Dale described his culinary approach as “alchemy of good food, where science and magic meet.” Renaissance is history. Dale first morphed it into Range, a restaurant serving the cuisine of the New West, then sold it and got out of the restaurant business. He founded Dale’s Kitchen, producing “stock in a box,” natural, professional-quality stock for chefs at restaurants, caterers and other large-order establishments. Dale moved to Savannah, GA, which is about as different a place from Aspen as you can find in terms of history, geography, arhcitecture culture, psyche, heat and humidity and still be in the United States.

Dale voluntarily relinquished his role as Colorado’s leading culinary alchemist, but Ian Kleinman, a third-generation chef and formidable culinary talent, is wearing the kitchen wizard’s cloak and has taken alchemy to a new level. Kleinman is chef de cuisine at O’s Steak & Seafood in the Westin Westminster, as unlikely a setting for cutting-edge culinary imagination and kitchen magic as one could find. While many other chefs, in Colorado and elsewhere, are opting for simple preparation and beautiful presentations, Kleinman is tinkering with ingredients and technique to remake them into dazzling creations and transformational tours de force.

Westword’s Jason Sheehan, a restaurant critic who takes the criticism part of his job very seriously, recently watched Kleinman do his alchemy (I won’t write, “cook”) and was uncharacteristically dazzled. He defined Kleinman’s cuisine “molecular gastronomy,” a term coined by a Hungarian physicist named Nicholas Kurti and a French chemist named Hervé This. Do they give a Nobel Prize for culinary inventiveness?

One of the scientists’ first acolytes was Ferran Adrià, the Spanish superstar chef who has been acclaimed as the best in the world by people who decide such things. Adrià’s El Bulli is virtually impossible to get into. It takes just a phone call to book a reservation at O Steak & Seafood, where Kleinman, who understands Kurti and This’s concepts of applying science-lab processes to ingredients, has brought them to greater Denver.

When Sheehen hung out with him, Kleinman prepared that week’s version of his exceptionally innovative tasting menu and other creations as well. The results blew Sheehan away with such magical creations as caramelized balsamic vinegar, grape-slurry caviar, smoked blueberries, gazpacho spheres, assorted foams and purees, “dipping dots” made of flavored ice cream base and dispensed through a syringe, his own bubble gum and “a tableside sorbet of Colorado peaches made with liquid nitrogen, frozen crème anglaise with mango and truffled popcorn, halibut encased in chicken skin.” Using frozen liquid nitrogen, in fact, is one of Kleinman’s favorite tricks.

I have read Sheehan’s review over and over, and I can’t wrap my head about most of what Kleinman does with and to food, but the word “alchemy” keeps popping into my head. The other thought that keeps coming to me is that Sheehan will never again be able to dine at a Kleinman restaurant without being recognized, but it is totally understandable that even a reviewer has to watch an alchemist work. Just sitting in the dining room like an average Joe, or average Jason, wouldn’t be enough. Some of the specials are prepared at tableside, so anyone ordering them can get a glimpse of the magic. Sure it is possible to go to O’s and order steak and seafood, but with all that creativity in the kitchen, why would you? O’s is is in the Westin, close to US 36, at 10600 Westminster Boulevard, Westminster; 303-410-5000.

In case you want more insight into Kleinman’s thinking and processes (I sure do!), check out his blog, Food 102. He also posts the week’s tasting menu and photos like the dessert (above right) of Strawberry Noodles with Chocolate Black Truffle Whipped Cream and Pop Rock Encrusted Blueberries and Black Walnut Bubble Gum.” He didn’t mention the mint leaves, if, in fact, they are really mint leaves.

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.