Category Archives: Chef

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.

Chef Eric Laslow Lands in Boulder

Ever since Restaurant 4580’s opening chef Kelly Kingsford left, I’ve been wondering who would replace her. Today’s Boulder Daily Camera’s “All the Buzz” column reported that Eric Laslow is the new executive chef. Holy cow! Laslow came to Colorado from Oregon: Eola Hills Winery, Third Street Grill in McMinnville and his own Laslow’s Broadway Bistro in Portland, named Restaurant of the Year by The Oregonian in 2002 and cited by no less than Gourmet magazine as one of America’s best restaurants.

He and his wife, Connie, also operated Malanga Cucina Cubana. The bistro was one of Portland’s finest fine-dining establishments and the cucina one of its most unusual. After 9/11, which many restaurateurs identify as the beginning of the end, the Laslows closed their restaurants and eventually found their way to Denver to open Corridor 44.

The chef put this stylish champagne bar with a challenging layout, no real dining room and a lot of competition (it’s on Larimer Square) on Denver’s food map. Because the emphasis was on bubbly and still wines, Laslow had to devise menu from which small plates made a big impact. He created some dishes just for this space and reprised some from the Broadway Bistro. His signature crab and roasted corn flan was a hit there and also here. There was talk that he might open a place in Denver’s Highland neighborhood, but I don’t know how far that got.

Now he’s cooking in Boulder in a real restaurant with a real kitchen and the foundation of a real following that Kelly built. I’m guessing that he will build on that and raise 4580 to a new level. Restaurant 4580 is at 4580 Broadway, Boulder; 303-448-1501.

Chef Transition at Cordillera

The culinary torch is being passed at the the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where Fabrice Beaudoin reigned as executive chef for 14 years. He began there when lodge had only 28 rooms and the fine-dining restaurant was called the Restaurant Picasso. The lodge is now twice that size, and the restaurant is now called Mirador. Enduring in this stylish restaurant are the great views from the window tables toward the New York Range and the high culinary standards, as the mantle is passed from one chef to another.

Beaudoin’s contemporary cuisine long drew Vail Valley and visiting foodies alike. With Beaudoin’s move to the Pacific Northwest, the transitional chef, Rahm Fama, is keeping the burners warm until Paul Rodgers takes over as executive chef in about two weeks. (Fama came from La Posada in Santa Fe and is moving to the Lodge at Vail, like Cordillera, a RockResort. Vail Resorts, Inc., not only operates five major ski areas but also the prestigious hotel group, which means a lot of intra-kitchen musical chairs for chefs among the various properties.)

My husband and I were seated at a window table last Saturday, the first quiet evening after what we were told had been a busy summer. We perused the small menu. I was intrigued by an appetizer called Woven Asparagus “Mat” with Truffled Egg Salad and Meyer Lemon Emulsion. My husband was tempted by the White Lentil Stew with Smoked Ham Hock. Our waiter, Cameron, cautioned us that Chef Paul, who was also on hand that evening, would be sending out some surprises from his new menu, so we decided against additional appetizers. (The appetizer I had been contemplating is, Cameron told us, composed of asparagus stalks thinly sliced lengthwise, woven and topped with egg salad. I’m still intrigued and might experiment, next time I have thick asparagus.)

Even as we awaited the preview appetizers, we sipped Carmenere from one of Concha y Torres labels and nibbled on slices of a very fine baguette. In a three-compartment “butter dish” were a triangle of plain butter in one , olive oil and balsamic vinegar in another and a small scoop of saffron utter in a third (right). To me, good bread signals good food to come. The kitchen sent out a small amuse of buffalo carpaccio with truffle oil on a potato crisp, served on a small frosted glass plate.

The two samples of Rodgers specialties that followed came on pottery plates. The first was a pair of enormous seared sea scallops with frilly frisee lettuce and champagne vinaigrette, basil slivers and papaya sabayon. The second appetizer sampler was pan-seated foie gras on a slice of baguette and grilled white pear surrounded by a pool of blackberry demi-glace. Rich ingredients and opulent contrasting flavors evoked silent sighs of gustatory pleasure.

Already full, I pleaded for a half-portion of the bouillabaisse entree. Even that was ample: two shrimp, four mussels, three hunks of lobster and one striped bass filet in a light, mild-flavored broth served in an enameled pot. My husband ordered beef filet in green peppercorn sauce (right). This is the sauce that usually accompanies the buffalo filet, but he prefers beef to bison. He also traded the mashed potatoes that he far prefers for the sweet potato pommes frites that usually come with this preparation. Alongside were some crisply steamed green beans, carrots and pearl onions. The beef was tender and flavorful, making that two fine entrees that evening.

Dessert was a new creation which might be called the Mirador Martini when it appears on the new menu. In a martini glass was an enticing “sundae” of raspberry puree, vanilla ice cream, reduced balsamic vinaigrette and Caramel Bailey’s. Cameron, who had taken such good care of us throughout our leisurely dinner, said that he had developed and that he anticipates that the open-minded and flexible Paul Rodgers will add it to the menu. Chef Paul himself told me that he cut is culinary teeth at the legendary Chillingsworth Restaurant on Cape Cod, where he was raised. All this bodes well for the chef-to-chef-to-chef transition at Mirador.

James Beard & Denver: Perfect Together

I recently posted news that two Colorado chefs — Sean Yontz, owner/chef of Chama, consulting partner/chef at Mezcal and the newly opened Tambien, and Chris Douglas, owner/chef of Tula Latin Bistro — will be cooking at New York’s James Beard House on August 22. Their theme will be Contemporary Latin Celebration. I’ve since learned that Matt Mine, executive chef at Denver’s recently opened Oceanaire Seafood Room will be joining Oceanaire chefs from six other locations to present the Ultimate Seafood Expereience at the Beard House on September 5.

If you’re in Colorado, you don’t have to fly to New York for Beard House-worthy food, because on September 28, Denver will join 19 other U.S. cities to host the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America, a national food festival celebrating the foundation’s 20th anniversary and the legacy of James Beard. Twenty cities, 20 years — catch that?

The talented chefs participating in the “Colorado Cooks for James Beard” dinner will be Frank Bonanno, chef/owner of Denver’s Mizuna and Luca d’Italia; Tim Love, James Beard Award nominee and chef/owner the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Love Shack and Duce in Fort Worth, TX; Yasmin LozadaHissom, pastry chef at Duo in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood; Thomas Salamunovich, chef/owner of Larkspur in and the soon to open Watermark in Edwards; Alex Seidel, chef/owner of Denver’s Fruition, and Elise Wiggins, executive chef at Panzano, also in Denver. If you’re wondering how Texan Tim Love muscled his way into a Denver dinner, there is a Colorado connection. He worked his way to the helm of Uptown Bistro in Frisco, CO, where he was honored several times with foth the Taste of Breckenridge Grand Award and the Taste of the Mountains Award. It will be good to have him back, cooking in Colorado. Bobby Stuckey, James Beard Award Winner, master sommelier and co-owner of Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine, will pair wines with each course.

This fabulous event on September 28 will take place at Panzano at the Hotel Monaco, with cocktails beginning at 6:00 p.m. and dinner at 7:00 p.m. Tickets cost $125 per person, and can be purchased by calling 303-395-2677 or e-mail office@heedum.com. The James Beard Foundation will donate a portion of the proceeds from the dinner to Operation Frontline Colorado, a Share Our Strength program.

On Saturday the 29th, the Williams-Sonoma store in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center will host a free Frestival Day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with cooking demonstrations and cookbook signings by award-winning chefs, children’s educational activities and tastings of artisanal products. Tim Love will do one of the demonstration, but the time has not yet been set. If you want to see him perform his culinary magic, call 303-394-2226 closer to the date.