Category Archives: Cooking School

Bocuse Replaces Escoffier at the CIA

Culinary school restaurant catches up with the times

The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York, closed the Escoffier Restaurant, the formal, classic temple of haute cuisine last year. It has been replaced with the Bocuse Restaurant, a more contemporary French restaurant where perfection is no less revered.

The new $3 million Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America.
The new $3 million Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America.

French chef Paul Bocuse, a Michelin three-star chef since 1965 who was also named the CIA’s 2011 “Chef of the Century” (though it is not clear which century, the 20th or the 21st), came to the US late last month for the debut of the new namesake restaurant. The journey was not easy for the renowned 87-year-old chef who reportedly did not hesitate to cross the Atlantic for the launch of the Bocuse Restaurant. As always donning his chef’s hat and apron, Bocuse was surrounded by such superstars of names in French cuisine in the US — Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Thomas Keller and his son Jerome, who runs Walt Disney World’s Les Chefs de France restaurant at Epcot.

Paul Bocuse, a pioneer of nouvelle cuisine and owner of the much-honored l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges near Lyon, spoke about the future of French cuisine to a packed audience of about a thousand people. “All cuisines are created equal, be they French, Italian, Chinese or American,” said Bocuse, while also pointing France’s unique assets such as being “a huge aquarium, a huge orchard and a huge vineyard.”

The evening’s dinner for about 100 guests was prepared by some 50 students in the kitchen and two dozen in the dining room. The menu included a peach of foie gras, lobster with champagne and caviar and filet mignon of beef with marrow custard. And for dessert, the guests were treated to grapefruit sorbet with vodka, a plate of three chocolates by pastry chef Gaston Lenôtre.

“It’s wonderful,” the guest of honor was quote as saying. “These 3,000 [CIA] students who will introduce Bocuse cuisine to guests each year” and work on a menu adapted from his concepts and other French dishes. “After me, there are still many very good chefs, so we still have some great moments ahead. Yesterday, we were with a group of friends in France and today, we’re with a group of friends around the world.”

The Bocuse Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday when classes are in session. It is one of CIA Restaurantss, 1946 Campus Drive, Hyde Park, NY 12538;  845-471-6608,

Hawaiian Food on my Mind

One “Top Chef finalist, Hawaiian cuisine class in Denver and a new near-Waikiki restaurant revs up

Hawaii is all over my culinary consciousness these days. Here are three reasons:

Hawaiian Chef Rising on “Top Chef”

Co-host Tom Colicchio and Sheldon Simeon in his signature red hat on "Top Chef."
Co-host Tom Colicchio and Sheldon Simeon in his signature red hat on “Top Chef.”

Sheldon Simeon, the congenial “cheftestant” who grew up in Hilo and is now the honored executive chef at Star Noodle in Lahaina on Maui, is a finalist on Season 10 of “Top Chef.” Or at least I think he is anyway  –unless the second-chance curves the producers are now throwing at the two finalists by inserting some who had been told to “pack your knives” appear appear to compete again. There’s also an online second-chance competetion that I’ve never watched and some kind of people’s choice contest too in the increasingly convoluted “Top Chef” format. On camera, Sheldon says he started out as a dishwasher, but the show’s website identifies him as having attended the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and Maui Culinary Academy. He’s a two-time James Bear Award semi-finalist.

Hawaii-Born Troy Guard’s Island Influenced Cooking Class

Chef Troy Guard who is schedule to teach a Hawaii-heavy class at The Seasoned Chef.
Chef Troy Guard who is schedule to teach a Hawaii-heavy class at The Seasoned Chef.

Troy Guard, chef/owner of Denver’s TAG Restaurant, TAG Raw Bar and most recently TAG Burger Bar, is returning to his Hawaiian roots with a tropically inspired class called “Continental Social Food” (which is TAG’s slogan, having little to do with the class) at The Seasoned Chef cooking school on Saturday, February 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is part of the Denver’s Best Chefs series — and indeed he is. He’ll demonstrate Hawaiian Butterfish; Smashed Shrimp Shui Mai; Braised Veal Cheek; Thai Chicken; Maui Sunrise Shortcake and TAG’s signature “Palisade Peach Fizz” cocktail. Register online or call 303-377-3222.

Pre-Pèppoli Pop-Ups Near Waikiki

Pèppoli at Pebble Beach, California, a forerunnner of the new Hawaiian location.
Pèppoli at Pebble Beach, California, a forerunnner of the new Hawaiian location.

There are a lot of restaurants in Honolulu and the most touristy ones are on Waikiki. In truth, the vast majority are, to put it kindly, uninspired. Coming this summer, a new Italian restaurant is poised to join the gourmet parade. Pèppoli, a Tuscan restaurant from the renowned Antinori family of Italy, opens in the Lotus Honolulu, occupying space that was previously home to such notable restaurants as David Paul’s Diamond Head Grill and Bobby Magees. Prior to the Pèppoli launch, Lotus Honolulu is hosting a series of “pop-up” restaurants from two of today’s most renowned chefs during limited engagements in February and March. The series features the cuisines of chef Greg Profeta, former chef at Restaurant Marc Forgione, and Chef Koji Tanaka, executive chef of Hiroyuki Sakai’s highly anticipated Sakai of Hawaii. If Sakai’s name sounds familiar, you probably watched some of the original, made in Japan “Iron Chef.” Allez cuisine!

Cuban Sammies Suit a Cold Day

Strip shopping center eatery serves up a taste of the tropics.

P1010494Denver’s Cuba Cuba has been serving super mojitos and other rum drinks, and good Cuban fare for more than a decade. Located in an old cottage, it was a pioneering restaurant in the Golden Triangle. Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria, its younger sib, opened in Boulder last summer, and it’s taken a cold day in December to motivate us to give it a try.

Bright topical colors, Cuban music, antiqued wooden chairs, large-format photos of a decaying island capital and ancient cars do a decent job of evoking Havana in a strip shopping center in Colorado. Hard edges and a loud late lunchtime crowd made it difficult to carry on a non-shouted conversation, but otherwise, it was a congenial place for a mid-day meal. Only the blast of icy air when a door was opened brought the ambiance back to snowy Colorado.

Sides included tasty black beans and  Cuban fries that tasted like regular, limp fries.
Sides included tasty black beans and Cuban fries that tasted like regular, limp fries.
The Cubano, the signature sandwich wih roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread.
The Cubano, the signature sandwich wih roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread.


The Minuta de Pescado, a pressed sandwich filled with crispy mahi tempura, cabbage slaw and habanero aoili on whole-grain bread.
The Cubano, the signature pressed sandwich with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread.

Price check: Sandwiches, $7; plates, $7-$8 including rice and black beans; sides, $2-$2.50; dessert, $3.25.

Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria on Urbanspoon

Kelly Liken & Friends at Baja Hotel

Vail star chef part of Culinary Weekend trio after Thanksgiving

Kelly LIken’s pork carnitas. Soon, she’ll be a guest chef at a culinary weekend in Mexico.

Executive chef Rodrigo Bueno of Rancho Pescadero and guest chefs  Tim Goodell of Public Kitchen & Bar and 25 Degrees (Hollywood, California) and Chef Kelly Liken of Restaurant Kelly Liken (Vail) are mentally prepping for a weekend of culinary merrymaking at this luxurious Baja California resort. This is the first collaboration by these three chefs, each known for creating locally inspired dishes prepared with the freshest ingredients and the utmost care and attention.

Just when the weather in these parts is getting dark and cold, with or without alluring snow in the high country, the three-night, four-day Culinary Weekend (November 29-December 2) at Rancho Pescadero just outside of Todos Santos promises cooking demos, classes, Baja wine tasting, a Todos Santos taco tour and more. I’ve tasted Baja wines at the Food & Wine Festival at Aspen and was impressed, and I hope that the Todos Santos tour leaves some time for art as well.


  • Welcome cocktails and chef Bueno’s Favorite Baja Antojitos
  • Garden tour with head gardener Catalina Edwards
  • Cooking class and lunch with chefs Kelly Liken and Tim Goodell
  • Baja Wine Tasting
  • Seafood dinner on beach
  • Todos Santos “taco tour”
  • Multi-course gourmet dinner with wine and cocktail pairings

The package (from $1,740 in a standard suite to $2,170 double occupancy in the Milagro Suite, both double occupancy); single occupancy rates also available), includes 3 nights’ accommodation, welcome basket and amenities, breakfast basket delivery daily (includes coffee, fresh fruit and Mexican pastries), full breakfast in the restaurant daily, morning yoga daily, chefs’ cooking class with lunch, nightly chef tasting dinners with wine pairings, and cocktail, wine and tequila tasting events. Note that transportation is not included, so expect to arrange your own, including rental car or ground transportation from/to Los Cabos Mexico International Airport (SJD) and that the program includes a cooking class (singular).  Reservations can be made online or by calling 910-300-8891.

Maya Cuisine Part V: A Class in Colorado

Seasoned Chef offers Maya cooking class

A month ago, I wrote several posts about Maya cuisine, gleaned during a week on the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Now, Denver’s own Seasoned Chef cooking school has scheduled a class on the distinctive regional foods of the Maya region. Cathy Harokopis teaches “Flavors of the Yucatan” on Tuesday, July 10, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The menu is so ambitious that I can’t imagine how she will be able to cover everything on the list in just three hours, but here it is: Sikil Pac, Pumpkin Seed Dip; Pol Kan, Snakehead Fritters; Papadzules, Rolled Tortillas with Pumpkin Seed Sauce and Tomato Sauce; Salbutes, Yucatecan Tostadas; Cochinita Pibil, Little Pig Cooked in a Pit ( home version); Tikin Xic, Grilled Fish Yucatecan-Style; Black Beans Yucatecan-Style;plus Sauces and Salsas (Cooked Tomato Salsa; Dog’s Snout Salsa; Pickled Red Onions; Simple Tomato Sauce; Recados and Achiote, the Herb and Chili Pastes) that are used in many dishes. The school promises that the class will create its own.

Harokopis, an experienced cook and popular instructor, often treks down from Laramie, Wyoming, to  Colorado to teach cooking classes. This class costs $75. Register online or call 303-377-3222. The school is at 999 Jasmine Street, Suite 100, Denver. Need a map? Click here.

Michael Long Now Teaching at Seasoned Chef

Denver cooking school signs on top local chef

I’ve had Chef Michael Long’s marvelous food in restaurants (in the early days of Opus in Littleton and later Aria in Denver) and also as a culinary judge at various Denver International Wine Festival competitions (he always was on the podium for some honor or another). Then, he abruptly parted ways with Aria, and I wasn’t sure where he had gone.

I was happy to I hear him as a co-host of KEZW 1430’s “Main Course Food and Restaurant Show” on Saturday mornings because that meant he was still around, but still, this 1991 Culinary Institute of America grad with the great Denver credentials really belongs in a kitchen — not only on the air. Now comes word from The Seasoned Chef Cooking School owner Dan Witherspoon that Long is teaching at this long-running Denver school for all levels of home cook, and also joined the kitchen team Fancy to Fantasy Catered Affairs, and nobody does “fancy” better than Michael LongHis first class at The Seasoned Chef is scheduled for July 30.

Broadmoor Appoints Fifth-Ever Executive Chef

Derin Moore from a Florida Ritz Carlton moving to the mountains

Chef Derin Moore

Chef Derin Moore has been named executive chef for The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs — only the fifth chef chef ever to hold that prestigious position at Colorado’s most honored, most iconic resort. He comes from the RitzCarlton Naples in Florida and takes over from Siegfried Eisenberger, who served in that position for twenty years.

Moore graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 1986.  He held several executive chef positions in award-winning restaurants in Michigan and then as executive chef for two of the Top 20 Platinum Country Clubs in America rated by the Club Managers Association of America. In 2007, he became the executive chef the prestigious Ritz Carlton Naples that, like The Broadmoor, is a Forbes (formerly Mobil) Five Star, AAA Five Diamond property. Continue reading Broadmoor Appoints Fifth-Ever Executive Chef