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!!!