Category Archives: Chef

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 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.

Spago Coming to Colorado

Wolfgang Puck’s eateries have had mixed success in Colorado. His Wolfgang Puck Express at Denver International Airport keeps on rolling, but the Wolfgang Puck Grande Cafe at Denver’s Pavillions closed, and I have the impression that the Express in Black Hawk is not around anymore either. In fact, I think that the BlackHawk Casino by Hyatt where it was located is now Mountain High, run by Ameristar. And I write that “I think” this is the case, because I don’t really keep up with the casino scene — and I’m frankly not interested enough to dig into the topic. So set me straight if you know better.

In any case, the big news is that a new outpost of Spago, the flagship restaurant in Wolfgang Puck’s culinary fleet, is scheduled to open at the Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in November. It replaces the hotel’s previous fine-dining restaurant, Remington’s, which closed at the end of the 2006-07 ski season. Renowned New York designer Tony Chi has interwoven rustic and modern elements for the 126-seat Spago. Features are an open-oven kitchen, vegetable-dyed veneer walls and shutters, tables made of reclaimed oak timbers, framed art photography and custom sconces. I can’t really visualize the promise, from a press release, that, “Each booth will feature a dedicated clear glass service tower to maximize privacy and exclusivity,” and I am not sure how this relates to privacy and/or exclusivity, but I hope I’ll get a chance to find out.

The restaurant will employ the signature culinary philosophy called ‘Wolfgang’s Eating, Loving and Living’ (WELL) program: a commitment to sourcing from local family farmers and purveyors who support the humane treatment of animals and to offering products that meet te company’s natural, fresh and organic standards. When it debuts, Spago Bachelor Gulch will become the fourth extant Spago. In addition to the original in Beverly Hills, there’s a Spago in Las Vegas at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s and one on Maui at the Four Seasons Resort.

Wolfgang Puck has has become a brand, salting the culinary landscape with numerous “concepts” and offers abundant franchise opportunities, plus supermarket soups and cookware sold on television. He’s an engaging TV personality and a cookbook author. He’s a celebrity chef by any measure. The company that bears has name is subdivided into Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and Wolfgang Puck Catering. Nevertheless, the top restaurants — Postrio in San Francisco and Las Vegas, Chinois on Main in Santa Monica and Las Vegas, and soon a quartet of Spagos.

Chef News from C-States


Two Denver area chefs are heading for New York to cook at the James Beard House on August 22. Sean Yontz opened Tamayo for Richard Sandoval’s restaurant group and is now the owner/chef of Chama, consulting partner/chef at Mezcal and the newly opened Tambien. Chris Douglas is owner/chef of Tula Latin Bistro. The two-chef team plans a five-course dinner paired with an extremely rare Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, a Mexican distilled spirit made from the maguey plant, blending the bold flavors of Mexico, Spain and Central America overlaid with a Colorado flair. The dinner costs $125 for Beard members, $155 for all others. BTW, the Beard House has a no-tipping policy. If you wish to reserve, call 212-627-2308. If you’re in New York, or are simply curious, you can preview the menu on-line. Yontz and Douglas follow closely on the heels of Steven Topple of Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek, who prepared a pinot noir dinner there on August 9.


One of the best events during the four-day Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival will be the annual Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 15 at the Village at Northstar. The cooking competition will pit current two-time champion Chris Banovich of Big Wave Burritos in the Village at Northstar against Jacques Cornelis, executive chef at the Resort at Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley. The Iron Chef format gives chefs one hour to create as many dishes as possible using a secret ingredient to be unveiled when the clock starts ticking. Passport tickets for Saturday festivities cost $45 and access a day-long program of food and wine events, including the Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off, “Today’s American Barbeque” with chef Larks Kronmark, a Gourmet Marketplace, Big Kids’ Cooking Camp with chef Lara Ritchie and a cooking demonstration with executive chef Roy Siegel of the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco. For festival tickets (and lodging, if needed) call 888-229-2193 or go to the festival website.


If only I had known, I would have alerted you earlier to the Taste of Hartford. Twenty-seven restaurants in the capital of my home state have been offering $20.07 dinners since August 5 and will do so until August 11. I love these Taste of…. events, because they enable locals and visitors alike to get a good dinner deal at favorite restaurants and also try new ones. Chefs get exposure with a new clientele and restaurants build traffic during slow times, so it’s a win-win format.

Upcoming Colorado Food Fests

Colorado foodies, or foodies visiting Colorado, have several food and wine events to choose from in the next few weeks. For multi-day events, inquire about special lodging rates.

Coming right up on Sunday, August 12, is the first annual Boulder Food & Wine Festival, which I previously wrote about. Scheduled from noon to 5:00 p.m., it features local restaurants’ creations using Colorado products and also a tasting of wines from Colorado wineries.

The Crested Butte Wild Mushroom Festival, that promises “to put the fun back in fungus,” takes place August 16-19 with a variety of specialized forays, workshops, cooking demonstrations/luncheons, a treasure hunt foray for youngsters aged six to 13 and experts on mushroom stuff. Visitors can by a three-day festival pass ($119.50), one-day pass ($49.50) or admission to individual events ($35-$39.50).

Saturday, August 18, is the annual Lafayette Peach Festival. Admission is free to the fruit-oriented street festival that takes place along three blocks of South Public Road. Admittedly, this hasn’t been the best year for Colorado’s fabled stone fruits, but organizers expect Palisade’s Morton’s Orchards to bring in 30,000 pounds of fresh, organic freestone peaches. The festival anticipates serving 4,500 servings of peach cobbler and 500 peach pies prepared by Hanna’s Specialty Foods and 2,500 peach smoothies. Other attractions include antiques and craft sales and children’s activities.

In southwestern Colorado, the Mesa Verde Wine and Art Festival takes place August 24-26 with wine tastings ($20 on festival day, $15 in advance) and wine maker dinners ($75) at the Metate Room in Mesa Verde National Park’s Far View Lodge and Joey’s Restaurant in Dolores. Guy Drew Vineyards in Cortez hosts an open house with live music on Sunday the 26th from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and that day, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Dawg Days Chili Cookoff takes place at the Cortez Cultural Center. Something for everyone.

September 7-9 is the first Colorado Fest … Celebrating Colorado’s Food, Wine, Beer & Art in Gunnison and Crested Butte. The weekend begins on Friday evening in Gunnison with a free art gallery crawl, live music and a food and wine reception at the Gunnison Arts Center with David S. Carbonetti of Mountain Sommeliers and two Colorado winemakers ($11 in advance on-line, $15 at the door). The weekend in Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte offers food and wine pairings, a wine tasting with Colorado foods under the cottonwood trees, a beer festival and chili cook-off and a farmers market. Local restaurants offer fixed-price dinner menus of Colorado-only products and guests can participate in hands-on pottery and cooking classes, music and more. Other ticket prices range from $7 for Breakfast with a Viking Chef (Saturday morning) to $65 for a wine-maker dinner at the Timberline Restaurant (Sunday evening). Go to the festival’s website or call 877-448-1399 for reservations or more information.
A Taste of Colorado, the annual Labor Day Weekend extravaganza of food and entertainment, takes over Denver’s Civic Center Park from August 31 to September 3. Admission is free. Visitors pay for carnival rides, food and beverages — and of course, whatever crafts and other items they purchase. Hours are Friday,11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The 16th annual Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade is an enduring and increasingly popular event that has grown up with the Colorado wine industry. The showcase for the Rocky Mountain Association of Vintners & Viticulturists is coming on September 13-16, with such activities as hands-on workshops of various sorts, wine and food pairings, dueling chef competitions, grape stomps, winery tours, winemaker competitions, a chocolate tasting, wine-maker dinners, a bicycle tour of the vineyards and more. The first-class VIP Pass is $140; individual event tickets range from $35 for a seminar on grape growing to $120 for a golf and wine package. Check the schedule or buy tickets online or for more information, call 970-464-0111 and 800-704-3667.

It is fitting that the epicurean summer that started with the 25th Annual Food & Wine Classic at Aspen wraps up with another prestigious festival at another luxurious mountain resort. The new Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival, September 13-15, features visiting celebrity chefs and winners of the San Francisco International Wine Competition and San Francisco World Spirits Competition who will pair food, wine and spirits. Wine authority Anthony Dias-Blue, who also runs those San Francisco beverage competitions, and chefs Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys, Richard Sandoval of Modern Mexican Restaurants (including Tamayo and Zengo in Denver) and Joseph Manzare of Zuppa, plus selected Beaver Creek chefs. will be on hand. Unusual offers include “Walk and Wine,” an outdoor experience pairing a wildflower hike led by experienced guides followed by a three-course wine pairing luncheon ($75), and “Fly Fish/Eat Fish” combining fly fishing instruction and a three-course seafood luncheon ($200). Renowned comedian Craig Shoemaker will provide plenty of laughs during a live “Cocktails and Comedy” performance at the Vilar Center for the Arts ($35). Seminars ($45), a grand tasting ($60) and a fabulous dinner at Splendido at the Chateau ($75) round up the festival. Tickets can be ordered from 970-845-TIXS.

Seeking Pastry Chef Amy DeWitt

Sometimes I feel a bit like a detective, solving the questions of where popular chefs went, especially when I receive a request like this: “This may be a long shot, but do you know how to contact Amy Dewitt – previous owner of the Cream Puffery and former pastry chef at Jill’s? I had a phone # and email from 2005, but neither work now. The St Julien seemed to think she left to start her own business, but I can’t find any info by googling or the phonebook. I’m hoping she’s still baking the best tortes in the world, but I can’t seem to find her. Any ideas?”

I don’t know about her new business, but I do know that Amy taught a pastry class at the Culinary School of the Rockies as recently as late June. You might ask marketing director Karen Barela ( or 303-494-7988). If you find Amy, let us all know where she’s landed or what her new enterprise might be.

"No Reservations" — The Latest Food Flick

“No Reservations” is the name of two current media properties: a TV show on the Travel Channel during which witty author-chef Anthony Bourdain travels around the world in search of culinary and cultural experiences and a movie starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin. The movie is about a beautiful, rigid, authoritarian but talented chef (Zeta-Jones as Kate) and the two unexpected individuals who enter her life, her orphaned nine-year-old neice (Breslin as Zoe) who comes to live with her and a handsome, hunky, impetuous and also talented sous-chef (Eckhart as Nick) hired to work under her. The movie was panned, but I liked it anyway because:

  • I like food movies. This one includes just enough tantalizing food shots and food chat to keep foodies happy.
  • I like restaurant movies, even though this one shows chefs in spotless whites even well into evening service.
  • I like chick flicks because they have no car chases, no car crashes, no blood and gore, no guns, no bombs, no graphic murders, etc. The most violent aspects to this film were a crate of dead fish and a couple of dead quail, and the scene where Kate accidentally set the hem of her apron on fire.
  • I like anything that encourages parents and children to be an adventurous eating family. In the beginning, Zoe was pretty picky, but once she spent time in the restaurant, vacuuming down Nick’s spaghetti and started cooking with him, she became a little epicure.
  • I like movies about New York because I don’t live there anymore. In cinematic New York, there are no traffic jams and there’s always a parking space in front of the building (even for Nick’s big pickup truck — which there aren’t many of in New York either).
  • I like movies with happy endings, because there’s so much bad news in the real world.