Tuesday, September 29, 2009

street food

This past Tuesday I put together some examples of street food for a group of very accomplished food professionals.  The group was assembled to hear a pitch from my good friend Laura (and possible future business partner) about a concept called Streat Chefs.  The idea is to take the iconic Airstream Trailer, pimp it out with a bunch of nice equipment, and hit the road.  The food needs to be simple, inexpensive, and killer.  I sketched some ideas, called up my friend Laura (apparently I'm surrounded by women with that name) at Whole Foods Market for some product, and started prepping.  I came up with a few dishes:  Munson Farms Butternut Squash Soup, Pork Belly Sliders, Habanero BBQ Chicken Tacos, Curried Lamb Flatbread, and a few sides.  The presentation went very well, the food was a hit,  and it looks like there may be some more work in line for me in this arena...

Monday, September 28, 2009


Yesterday I did an Oktoberfest demo at the Pearl Street Whole Foods Market in Boulder.  It was less of a demo and more of a free food giveaway, but everyone seemed to like the food.  I had a few German women tell me the offerings brought them right back to Munich.  I think that was a good thing?

Having never been to Germany, I did a little research on the holiday.  Turns out Oktoberfest is the largest people's fair in the world.  It draws over six million people each year, and that's just in Munich!  I was always confused by the name and why it's in September.  Turns out the Munich Oktoberfest, traditionally, takes place during the sixteen days up to and including the first Sunday in October.  So there you have it...

I made some bratwurst (cooked in Oktoberfest beer, of course), roast pork with caraway and apples, braised cabbage, potato dumplings with slow cooked onion, and some kick-ass german potato salad.  We fed about 400 people and I was definitely beat after this one.  

The most bizzare part of this whole thing was the duo of musicians playing some crazy music with an accordian and bass just a weiner's throw from my table.  

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Saturday was my featured BBQ dinner at Steve Strawbridge's house.  The dinner was won by Steve at the annual Share Our Strength's "Chefs Up Front" dinner.  He generously bid over $4000 for the dinner.
SOS is an amazing foundation that helps to fight child hunger in the United States.  We found out during the dinner that Colorado has the highest number of hungry or malnourished children of any state.  It's a great cause and I have been a proud chef for SOS for the past 10 years.
Knowing Steve paid so much to have me feed 12 people at his house, I wanted to make sure they ate well.  Six racks of slow-cooked baby back ribs, six pounds of braised chicken thighs, marinated and grilled chicken breasts, an assortment of brats, coleslaw, cornbread, potato salad, greens, grilled veggies, and grilled figs with cormeal cakes and lavender syrup did the trick.  William Snowden supplied all of the wine and the pairings were perfect.  I believe everyone was more than stuffed and more than a little buzzed once the event was through.  Max helped me big time throughout and dinner was a success....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whole Foods Video Shoot

I'm a good cook.  I'm a good conversationalist.  I'm good at giving instruction.  What I'm apparently not good at is memorizing lines.

This past Thursday I filmed a series of instructional videos with Whole Foods Market for the holiday season.  We showed people how to roast the perfect turkey, make gravy, etc....  I think those segments went well.  What I didn't excel at was memorizing lines about lip balms and soaps.

Thank god Melynda, Ben, Nancy, Brent, and all of the guys working the cameras were so patient.  It was pathetic and funny at the same time.  But I think we got everything by the end of the (14+ hour) day and the videos will be awesome. And instructional.  And will live forever....


Well, well. How to blog about sin city without being cliche or obvious.  Let's just start by saying I had the best food and the best luck...
I had my (early) birthday dinner at Joel Robuchon in the MGM Grand.  It was absolutely amazing.  The food and the service were everything you would expect and more.  The experience is somehthing I cannot describe, other than to say it is well beyond the norm.  We had a five course tasting menu and wines that my good friend picked out.
Chef Clauce Le Tohic came to our table and described the daunting task of creating great cuisine in the middle of the dessert.  It doesn't hurt when you have a staff that would crawl over broken glass just to tourne one more turnip for you....
My luck at the tables was grand.  I pretty much ruled the poker table, the craps table and the blackjack table.  I think the gambling gods finally took pity on all of my losses and gave me a little birthday love.
Finally it probably goes without saying that I got sleep after the trip was over.....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jax Harvest Dinner

Let's talk about beer. Beer is the everyman's drink. From shotgunning at keggers to sipping with monks, beer can be found everywhere. It is simple, delicious, and can easily be made at home.

But there is a stunning difference between cheap Wisconsin swill and crafted small batch brews made with imported yeasts and heirloom hops. As wine may be the prefered libation served with fine food, beer can certainly hold it's own with pairings. And this is exactly what we proved with Peter and Adam of Avery Brewing Company.

The menu was eclectic with late summer harvest being the only real guide. We started with beautiful oysters on the half shell, turned to a deconstructed tomato salad, warmed up with Louisiana-influenced trout, followed up with bass and homemade bacon with peaches, killed it with mushroomy local lamb, and ended the powerhouse food train with some good ol' chocolate cake. All of the produce and proteins were from Colorado - most from Boulder County. It was fun, enjoyed by all, and will certainly be repeated again soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tomato Love

One plane ride and two car rides down and I had arrived in Sonoma. First destination: The Kendall Jackson estate http://www.kj.com.

I was given the full tour of the grounds by Executive Chef Justin Wrangler and his fantastic crew of chefs. The first and most exciting thing I saw was their garden, or should I say Culinary Gardens. They have acres of land dedicated to growing every type of produce you can imagine. The entire estate is on an old walnut grove, so the tomatoes, corn, herbs, lettuces, and thousands of other plants are interspersed among giant old walnut trees.

But, the thing I was really drooling over were the TOMATOES. 170 plus varieties of heirlooms, with a wide variety on the estate and another 5 acres off site. I had no idea there were so many tomato varieties out there and there were definitely mouth gaping moments looking at the lineup of all those tomatoes in all colors and sizes.

On to Saturday, the big event. The local restaurants all had booths sampling tomato creations. There was live music, tons of wine and sunshine. The main stage held the Chefs Challenge. I had to cook against my old friend Jamie from Top Chef Season Five. We had 20 minutes to cook three dishes with heirlooms and two secret ingredients. The ingredients turned out to be scallops (surprise Jamie!) and kobe ribeye.

The end product was mouthwatering with all that FRESH produce: My dishes: Scallop, Melon and Tomato Ceviche with thai vinaigrette; Ricotta Ravioli with tomato cream sauce and pine nuts; Grilled Kobe Ribeye "Sandwich" with wild mushrooms and charred tomato salsa were loved by the celebrity judges, but alas, Jamie prevailed. She went on to face off against Justin Wrangler (who won his first heat) and eventually was named the Heirloom Tomato Champion.

What a weekend... and what tomatoes!