Award-winning chef returns to Aspen
I first met Bryan Moscatello when he was top toque at Adega, which was such an innovative Denver restaurant that he was selected as one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2003. He left Denver first for the East Coast and started edging westward again by relocating to Chicago. Now he is returning to his Colorado roots at the Little Nell Hotel in Aspen.
I needed a scorecard to keep track of his moves. In one order or another, he was executive chef/general manager at Bistro Toujours in Deer Valley; executive executive chef at Stir Food Group in Washington, D.C, and culinary director with Tenzing Wine & Spirits in Chicago. Most recently, he has been the chef partner at The Storefront Company in Chicago, earning three stars from the Chicago Tribune for his farm-centric cuisine.
“Coming back to Aspen is like coming home,” Moscatello said. “I’ve returned to Aspen over the years for snowboarding trips and events like the Food & Wine Classic, but there has always been this desire to find my way back.”
Moscatello is back on the team captained by general manager Simon Chen, who himself returned to the property this year after nearly 20 years away. When they left, the classically elegant Montagna was the Little Nell’s restaurant. Now, it is element 47 — sleek, understated and contemporary.
“Bryan’s style of cooking is really the alpine mountain cuisine that put Aspen on the map,” Chen said. “He will continue to promote our farm-to-table ethos and devotion to great local products, but what guests should expect to see is a heartier approach to food with deeper flavors and sustenance.”
Moscatello said that he is looking forward to working with the hotel’s culinary team and foresees dishes like Colorado lamb with charred local onion, sautéed kale and Yukon gold gnocchi with wild chanterelle mushrooms. He also looks forward to getting back into Colorado’s famous lifestyle. “I was so much healthier when I lived in Aspen,” he said. “I can’t wait to start snowboarding and mountain biking again.”
The outgoing executive chef, Robert McCormick, is joining Emma Farms Cattle Company of Basalt as vice president of sales and marketing. A goal is to expand the current 150 head of Wagyu cattle into 5,000 by 2020. He will continue to collaborate closely with The Little Nell as a purveyor of the local product. I wouldn’t be surprising if McCormick drops by the Little Nell kitchen now and again to see what Moscatello is up to — especially with beef dishes.