Thursday, September 8, 2011

An exciting year

I know, I'm way behind on updating this blog - sorry folks! What a year it's been... my Dad passed in February, and it hit me pretty hard.  On top of that, I've been juggling a crazy-busy schedule.  My Facebook page is a much better place to connect with me, hope to see you there!

January 11 I was a guest chef at El Diablo's first 5 course tequila dinner, featuring Del Maguey Single Village mezcals. Had a great time with the famous Ron Cooper, and of course, Sean Yontz!
Here's a copy of the menu for that night:

January 16
Off to the Bahamas for Top Chef All Stars, Episode 13 (“Fit for a King”) with "old army buddies" Michael Voltaggio, Kevin Sbraga and Stephanie Izard. I was proud to be the only one to defend my title from my season.

(And can I just say how hard it is to cook with Padma Lakshmi watching?!)

January 25
My good friend, Master Chef Victor Matthews, owns the Paragon Culinary School. He's a real character and a dear friend, and yes, he is a Master Chef (check out this MySpace video of Chef Victor explaining how Master Chefs achieve their title.)  Chef Victor invited me to be a guest teacher, so I taught a "Master Chefs" class on the cooking styles and techniques of Eric Ripert.

January 28
See what I mean by "crazy-busy"?  I had been "auctioned off" (well, my chefs skills were at least!) at a Four Mile Fire benefit dinner, and this was the night the highest bidders had me come cook a 5-course dinner at their beautiful house.  The best part of the night was having their kids help me plate dessert :)


February 9-18
I cooked for 600 people at the Interaction 11 conference which was in Boulder this is year.  They really liked the Brussels sprouts with pomegranate sauce and roasted pork belly.

February 18
And then... my dad passed away.
This is obviously a very personal thing for me.  And as I've never been one for writing, I can say that a dear friend has put the experience into words that I think really tell the story of the ceremony.  If you would like to read "Holy Smoke", please email me at and I'll send you a copy.
Thanks to everyone who sent the well wishes during this dark time.

I laid low for the rest of February and most of March...


March 30
I roasted a Colorado lamb rack with goat cheese polenta at a big charity dinner in Tahoe, a benefit for the BJALCF (Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.) Bonnie is a 6-year lung cancer survivor and the founder and chair of a nonprofit organization that is one of the nation’s largest philanthropies devoted exclusively to eradicating lung cancer.  I think I surprised them by going outside to pick some spruce tree shoots and using them in the dish, but they seemed to love it.

I'll be cooking for this organization again in San Francisco, Saturday Nov. 5 (more info here.)


April 3
Totally blown away by the food at the Denver Cochon 555 contest, where I was a judge - five Denver/Boulder chefs created fantastic dishes featuring pork, competing for the "Prince/Princess of Porc" title: Jennifer Jasinski (Rioja, Euclid Hall and Bisto Vendome); Kelly Liken (Restaurant Kelly Liken); Frank Bonanno (Bones, Green Russell, Luca d'Italia, Lou's Food Bar, Mizuna and Osteria Marco); Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson (exec chef of Frasca Food and Wine), and the eventual winner, Alex Seidel (Fruition and Fruition Farms.)  

Thank you Huge Galdones of Galdones Photography for these great shots.
Lots more good ones here. Check out the "trailer" for the event too.

April 6-13 
Spent a few days in Mexico for my friends Peter and Linea's wedding, which was absolutely gorgeous.

April 15-16
Hung out in L.A. with good buddy Stefan Richter, the Finnish-American who was my nemesis, and gave me a run for my money on Top Chef.  The guy is crazy! We were eating whole raw onions like they were apples at 2 a.m.

April 24-27
Atlanta: cooked a non-traditional passover dinner for Top Chef's Hector Santiago and Eli Kirschtin and his family at Eli's house.


May 6-19
Went home to Taos to see my mom and for some "grounding" R & R.  Celebrated Mother's Day with her, painted her house, went mountain biking in the Rio Grande gorge, and fly fishing with buddy Matt.

During that visit, another friend of mine, Mike, bought half a cow, and we invited 10 people over for a feast. We cooked up the whole thing - the marrow, kidneys, etc.  Another friend had shot an elk and we grilled elk skewers too.

May 27
Filmed at Food Truck Renegades in Denver for a possible TV show on food trucks. Watch this space for updates on how that's coming along!

May 30 - Memorial Day
Had an absolute blast cooking at the ZisBoomBah's Pick Chow! Cook-off at the Boulder Creek Festival. I think my kid-pleasing watermelon steaks caramelized in Madhava agave nectar helped me win.


June 7
Fun day!  First, Colorado & Company on KUSA Ch9, promoting that weekend's Colorado WineFest...

Then onto Civic Center Eats:
Then, along with a great group of folks including Fruition's Alex Seidel and Westword's Lori Midson in the photo below,  I judged the "Taste of Elegance Chefs Food & Beer Pairing Competition" at the Denver International Beer Festival in Broomfield, where personal chef Robert Corey of 12 Seasons Catering won.

June 8
Attended the School Food Project's 2nd Annual Farm dinner at Pastures of Plenty Farm in Longmont, which raised $48,000 towards bringing healthy food to BVSD kids.

June 16-19

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Rise and shine!  Time for 2011!
It's Monday, January 3, 2011 and I just spent my last night in New Mexico for a while.

I'm going to miss the green chile, posole, rellenos, enchiladas, bizcochitos, the Rio Grande, the luminarias, the adobe, the mesa, the Taos Ski Valley, the sunsets and the smell of burning cedar and pinon.

The best meal of the trip was at a tiny spot named Rellenos.  It's got two sister restaurants (now of the mini empire called 'Antonio's') - both within walking distance.  Rellenos only has about 3 tables, maybe 4, one server, one cook.  The food is killer.  Authentic but fresh.  The Huitlacoche enchiladas with Poblano Verde sauce were off the hook.

Spent NYE at my dear friend's place, The Love Apple Restaurant.  It's the place to be in Taos these days.  We had a huge table set in the back, a perch to view the festivities.   Most of the staff of the restaurant took time to perform at different parts of the night.  There were Scottish funeral songs, jokes, some Kung Fu, and a jaw-dropping arial dance where a limber young lass was hainging by her feet, only attached to the ceiling by some fabric.  Very cool. 

Got to catch up with some old friends, some I hadn't seen since high school - a very long time ago.  Played some cards with the good old boys.  Shared some meals with loved ones. 

Good times.

Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

life is short

I have had the most incredible year.  But it hasn't been without darkness.  I just returned home from a week with my dad.  It's been so hard watching someone you love slowly fade.  It's just another reminder of how quickly life passes.  Do what you love.  Love what you do.  Love those who are in your life because you never know how long they will be with you.
I feel blessed.  I have had so many wonderful people in my life.  I cannot thank them enough.  I am dealing with a lot of mixed emotions now and it is so good to know there are people I can rely on.
My dad is one of those wonderful people.
I have gone a long time without truly connecting with him.  As in all families, there are issues.  Mine are no exception.  So now I try and make up for some of that lost time.

But I have never doubted his love.

Monday, August 9, 2010

how do people blog every day?

This is the question I keep asking myself.  
Or maybe I just wish I could find the time to do it....
Anyway, a lot has been going on in the past few weeks.  Mainly, I have started a new venture:  strEATchefs!!!
I have been working on this every day from sunup to sundown and not much time for blogging (or anything else for that matter).
Laura Rice, my partner, and I dreamed up this superfly airstream idea about a year ago.  We thought that Boulder/Denver needed more quality street food and that the trend in cities like Portland and LA were fast becoming mainstream.  Why not be the fist in Boulder to do something like this?  And if someone else does beat us to it, then we want to be the best.  
So fast forward a year, a lot of travel, a lot of brainstorming, and a lot of meetings later and behold:  Rosie!
She's sleek, beautiful and ready to cook up the goods.

We have a full kitchen inside - grill, fryer, huge griddle, burners, and tons of refrigeration.  There is a ton of counter space, a hood, POS, storage.  But the most important piece is the crew.  I've got a handful of eager, experienced, and good-natured cooks to help me realize the vision.  

So now we are hitting the streets.  The lines have been long and the response has been fantastic!
Thanks to everyone who has visited us and who is helping us get started.  I see a big, bright, shiny future for strEATchefs!

Friday, June 25, 2010

deep thoughts

I feel like Jack Handy right now sitting on the beach in Florida watching the waves roll in.  I'm here for a couple of cooking demos at Publix grocery stores (well, actually its' at their cooking school called Aprons).  I've been fortunate enough to get put up at the Boca Beach Resort.  So I'm relaxing by the beach waiting for my next demo to begin.  It's perfect here - very warm, nice offshore breeze, clear waters and great sandy.  However, I can't stop thinking about what's happening a few hundred miles in the other direction.  BP and the oil industry in general have put us all in danger.  The oil has been flowing into the ocean for over two months now.  It is the most upsetting thing that has happened in our lives, in my humble opinion. The impact will not only be felt by the cleaning crews, the fishermen, the fish, the ocean-dwellers, the property owners, the oystermen, the tourist industry, the deep sea fishermen, the pelicans, the turtles, the dolphins, etc. etc. etc....  BUT BY EVERYONE ON THIS EARTH.  So much oil has spewed that it will make it out of the gulf, around Florida, up the East coast, across the Atlantic and over to Europe and beyond.  Many migratory fish and birds use the wetlands and the deep ocean just off the Louisiana coast to breed and hatch their young.  Sharks, whales, large predatory fish, etc. all need these waters to survive.  I predict a domino effect that will last decades.  I am so disillusioned with our government, big industry and the New American Apathy that seems to be imbedded in every bit of our lives now.  If it doesn't directly impact people, they just don't seem to care - or at least have the energy to do something about it.  Maybe we are all so busy with our crazy lives, debt, and fear that we can't offer any emotion to something this important.  But this keeps me up at night.  I have fallen in love with New Orleans and the state of Louisiana over the past year.  I feel like someone just shot my new love in the heart and nobody is slowing down to offer help...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hong Kong - Day 1

It certainly takes some time do get from Boulder, CO to Hong Kong.  Like 24 hours door to door.  It is well worth the wait!
I flew in  on a dreary day (which could either be clouds or some seriously thick pollution - probably a combination) and touched down just after dawn.  After finding my way to the hotel, I hooked up with Josiah Citrin, chef and owner of Melisse Restaurant in LA.
We clambered our way through the streets of Hong Kong, trying to find our bearing.  We walked up what seemed like an infinite ascension of stairs to some really cool shops and alleyways serving dumplings, duck and many local offerings.
After cooling down with some cold beer we made our way to the Ferry Building and took a ride to Kowloon.  We checked in with Chef Jake and his crew at BLT Steak.  We got an idea of what we would need for the dinner the following night and how much prep would be involved.  Then it was back to Hong Kong to take a break and get ready for the evenings adventures.

We took a 20 minute cab ride to Lei Yue Mun, a crazy fish market on the Eastern Kowloon side.  It was basically a long row of fish purveyors packing aquariums and tanks with every type of sea creature you can imagine.  Each stall has a restaurant connected to it where they will slay and cook whatever critter you bring them.  After doing our best "bartering" and trying to get a feel for what kitchen would do the most justice, we settled in and chose our victims.  We ended up with a feast - way too much food for two people!  We ate:  snapper, prawns, clams, geoduck, cuttlefish, abalone, lobster, mussels, and one massive crab.

They put together a few different preperations and the food came out when it came out.  We also dove into some wonderful Chinese broccoli, noodles, rice and I forget what...  Oh, lots of beer...
Slowly and painfully we made our way back to the hotel to sleep and see what the next day would bring us...
Lobster, before and after

Geoduck, before and after