Monthly Archives: April, 2010

What other foodies are saying about Culinary Connectors

April 30th, 2010 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

We were so excited to read this review of our most recent Denver Top Restaurant Tour that we just had to share it with our readers.

“My wife gave me a top restaurant tour for my birthday and we used it this past Saturday. From Fruition to Encore to Village Cork we went. What an amazing time! I wasn’t sure what to expect but I have to say Laura (the tour director) was awesome, the tour was incredibly organized, and the chefs/proprietors were all very welcoming and informative. Highly recommend you do this if you’re a foodie at any level” – Kevin Vogel.

Thanks Kevin – we are happy you had a great time. Cheers!

Dining Out for Life

April 29th, 2010 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Today, April 29 is one day we should all dine out in support of Project Angelheart. Project Angelheart is an organization that provides meals to people living with HIV. While we enjoy dinner at Argyll Gastropub, Z Cuisine or the Kitchen Cafe 25% of the check will be donated to Project Angelheart. Click here for a list participating restaurants in Denver and Boulder. Foodies who have been on a Culinary Connector Top Restaurant Tour will recognize many of the restaurants on the list who are generously supporting Project Angelheart. Eating well and saving lives – that’s something all of us can do today. Bon Appetit!

Chef Bradford Heap – Eating Low on the Food Chain

April 20th, 2010 Posted by Boulder, Chefs, Uncategorized No Comment yet

What a “fungi” he is said Chef Bradford Heap of Colterra and Salt Bistro. He was talking about his mushroom forager that had just stopped off at Salt with some black trumpet mushrooms. “He’s going to take me and my kids foraging for porcinis soon,” said Brad. And that’s how my interview started.

Chef Bradford Heap had been cooking for a while before he enrolled in culinary school at CIA Hyde Park. He had to sell his Honda 600 dirt bike, which broke his heart, but also made him grow up. Bradford did well in culinary school he says because he knew his way around a kitchen; he wasn’t green like so many of his younger classmates. It was then that he knew he would be a chef.

Bradford did his extern at L’Orangerie in Los Angeles. The kitchen he tells was full of French nationals. “At that point in my life I was in love with French cooking.” After finishing his externship he went on to work at La Folie under Chef Roland Passot. “Chef Roland was talented and really nuts. He was angry and over the top.” It was there that Brad learned how he didn’t want to act in his kitchen. “I have a little edge in my show but I don’t use that to motivate my chefs.”

After leaving La Folie he went to the Napa Valley and worked with Gary Danko at Chateau Souverain. Chef Danko was and continues to be a huge influence. Gary hired Brad to be his Sous Chef, which was a huge break at the time. Gary taught Brad his approach to cooking locally and seasonally. Brad says he still makes some of his sauces the way Gary showed him back in the day. “Gary was a great teacher. He had great technique. He was an intense chef. I made it there one year. When you work with an intense chef one year is a big deal. It’s easy for a chef to get under your skin if you are not careful.”

From there he went to France, which was a goal of his ever since he read an article in Art Culinare Magazine. The article that caught Bradford’s eye was a feature on Alain Ducasse. Alain Ducasse was the youngest chef to receive 3 Michelin stars at the time. Alain had the ability to take French cuisine and blend it with the Italian’s approach to seasonal, regional cooking. Alain was a master of using the two techniques and honoring both cuisines. Bradford was impressed and motivated. He staged at several French restaurants before finally achieving his goal of working with Chef Ducasse. After surviving in two 3 star restaurants Brad moved onto to Italy where he worked in a few different kitchens including the esteemed Da Delfina. It was there that he learned to moderate the frenchy technique with simple Italian cooking. Da Delfina is known for typical Tuscan cooking; this is where the stinging nettle pasta dish on the menu at Salt originated.

What is the main difference between chefs/restaurants/cuisine in Europe and in America? American chefs are creampuffs! It’s a cultural thing. In Europe people know how to slow down and celebrate the arts of the table. In America we rush around too much. In Italy the chef would make his own balsamic vinegar. The patriarch of the family would go out and gather the greens that would be served at the restaurant that evening. In Boulder we are starting to embrace artisanal producers, cheese makers, farmers. We are making Boulder a Mecca for this way of thinking.

Who conceptualizes the menu at Colterra and Salt? I work with my chefs and we all give our input. We create menus based on vegetables that are seasonal, not on proteins. For me to embrace local purveyors it dictates that the vegetable is in the driver’s seat and the pork chop, for example, is along for the ride.

What would you put on your menu if you didn’t have to worry about it selling? Stinging nettle pasta with Parmigiano-Regianno and olive oil. I write my menus based on what I want to eat, what I want to put in my belly.

In your opinion, what is the difference between French and Italian technique? The Italians are more honoring of the vegetables. They dance with their food. The French exert their dominance over the food. They step on its toes.

Bradford is all about the rustic, simple approach to cooking. When he was starting out he would write his menu and make the market bring him the ingredients. Now he goes to the market and then writes his menu. It’s farm to table. The market dictates what he makes.

As a chef/owner of two restaurants and the father of twins what do you do to relax and how to you manage to live? I exercise. I don’t drink very much or use any “artificial joy”. I love what I do. I love my kids. I hire people who are talented and can help me run my business.

Favorite comfort food Anything local or seasonal. I eat a lot of vegetables. I try to treat my body well.

Favorite kitchen tool The French knife. You can do anything with a French knife except maybe make an emulsified sauce.

Favorite ingredient White truffles

Favorite food city San Francisco

Favorite cookbook Alain Ducasse. He signed it for me; something like – this is a memento of all your hard work here. I still use Alain’s cookbook for inspiration and for centering.

If you could eat anywhere in the world right now Without a doubt Da Delfina.

Why did you open Salt I’ve always had a dream of having a restaurant on Pearl Street and in the location we are in now. It was easy to find investors but not so easy to get the bank loan. They turned us down three times. Today I just cooked lunch for the President of the bank and I think he enjoyed it.

Advice for kids who want to go to culinary school Work in a restaurant for a couple of years. Lose that glamorized garbage of Food Network TV. If you’re passionate and not afraid to bust your ass this is the job for you. Can you deal with the pressure of the line? Can you work nights and weekends?

Advice for home cooks Cook low on the food chain. You don’t have to build your dinner around proteins. Explore eating rice and beans. Cook big batches and freeze them. It’s important to look at your diet and where your food comes from.

Any parting words? I can’t undo the wrongs of the world but I can vote with how I buy my food and show people a way of cooking that celebrates vegetables. It’s healthier, much better for you.

I recently went to Buffalo Wild Wings and I was appalled at all the over weight people stuffing themselves on fried chicken, white bread and beer. I had a chicken wrap and was so sick. My body isn’t used to that.

Why do we dine out?

April 15th, 2010 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

I believe it is because eating food is a sensory experience.

I was at L20 in Chicago with a friend of mine who remarked that I spend so much money on fine dining. He asked why I did it, wouldn’t my hard earned dollars be of better use somewhere else. He clearly is not a foodie. While I do understand the need to be frugal I see nothing wrong with saving up and enjoying an exquisite meal. I have been known to spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment on dinner or lunch. Do I have anything to show for those experiences at The French Laundry, Per Se, Alinea and L’Ambosie? Maybe around my hips. The beauty, at least for me, is about the privilege of eating at these temples of fine dining. I am in love with the crispness of the linen table clothes, the sparkle of the flatware, the pop of the champagne cork, the muted sounds of other diners, the focus of the wait staff, the smell of each dish as it is placed on the table, and the perfect balance of seasoning in those first few bites. It’s a heady experience and I am hooked.

In this crazy, hectic world I believe that we have forgotten about the art of the table. We rush around, never slowing down, multi-tasking all day, texting, talking on the phone while driving and checking our email constantly. Dining is my opportunity to relax. I enjoy savoring each bite, each sip of wine and appreciating the beauty of each ingredient on my plate. It is my stress reliever.

That’s why I enjoy dining out. I encourage all of my fellow foodies to slow down as well and go somewhere this week to worship at the table. Not sure where to go? Check out Best of Westword or 5280 Magazine’s Top 25 Restaurants. Bon Appétit!Why

Chef Alex Seidel from Fruition joins the Ranks of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs

April 11th, 2010 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Congratulations to Chef Alex of Fruition Restaurant. Alex was picked, along with 9 other chefs from around the country, as one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2010.

Food & Wine Best New Chefs are chosen after restaurant critics, food writers and other food experts from around the country identify chefs who have been in charge of a kitchen for less than 5 years. Food & Wine editors then travel incognito to taste the food themselves.

A list of past winners is a veritable who’s who of the culinary world. Nate Appleman, Marc Vetri, Grant Achatz, Dan Barber, Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud and Lachlan Patterson have all been honored. Many of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs have gone on to receive James Beard awards and many other accolades in the restaurant industry. In fact, Chef Alex was singled out on the James Beard long list earlier this year.

Fruition, located on 6th Avenue is co-owned by Alex and his partner Paul Attardi. Alex is known for his seasonal approach to sophisticated comfort food. As a second job Alex recently purchased Verde farms. He supplies greens to over 25 restaurants in Denver and is working on a sheep dairy product and a cheese making room.

Congratulations Chef! Colorado is proud of you!

Chef Fabio from Bacaro Venetian Taverna in Boulder

April 6th, 2010 Posted by Uncategorized 1 comment

Nine months ago Chef Fabio Flagiello arrived in Boulder to become the executive chef of Bacaro Venetian Tavern. Born and raised in Trieste, Italy Fabio knew early on that he was interested in becoming a chef. After beginning culinary school in his home town he went on to cook in Venice, Italy. From there his culinary journey led him to cook in Paris, Boston, California and now, lucky for us, Boulder.

I jumped at the chance to interview Chef Fabio, especially after eating three amazing courses on Culinary Connector’s first ever Top Restaurant Tour in Boulder. In Fabio’s bio it says that he catered events and taught classes for Hollywood personalities. That’s not all he did. During his tenure in Los Angeles he was called upon to act as a film consultant for roles requiring culinary talent. He was the inspiration for the character Primo in the movie “Big Night”.  “The most fun I’ve had is teaching Tony Shalhoub how to look and act like me for the movie.” says, Chef Flagiello. Among other famous personalities Fabio had the chance to cook  for Marlon Brando. “He was the most special celebrity I’ve cooked for. It was his birthday. We did 5 to 6 courses.” So how does Fabio feel about living in Boulder after cooking all over the world and with celebrities?  “I like the political aspects of Boulder.” he says.

When asked about the difference between American kitchens and European kitchens Fabio says both have very passionate chefs. The history of food in Europe is obviously influencing what is going on in States today. In Europe, Fabio says it was easier to source good products. “In the States I really have to look for good produce and high quality purveyors. Fish is very different. In the Mediterranean the fish are smaller and their flavor is more intense.” Fabio also comments about the “foodies” in Europe. “The culture in Europe about restaurants is different. It is very chef driven. The Chef in Europe cooks the best he can to impress his public. Patrons come to the restaurants to experience what the chef can do.” In the States, Fabio feels as though the public runs the show. What we as consumers want drives what he can put and sell on his menu. It’s about making compromises.

When asked what he would add to the menu at Bacaro if he didn’t have to worry about a dish selling, he immediately responds with RABBIT. Fabio would like to make Bacaro a little more Venetian. It is after all called Bacaro Venetian Taverna. Traditionally you would find more tripe, anchovies and onions on the menu; however to keep attracting  guests Fabio says you must compromise a little and make your menu agreeable.

Fabio says he can’t live without his German knives. “They feel the best in my hand, they are easy to sharpen, well balanced and they last a long time.” He also has a strong penchant for sturdy kitchen tongs and big kitchen towels. Just make sure, though, if you are working in his kitchen that you don’t use too many towels or fail to clean the kitchen floor. These are two things that Fabio can’t stand.

While he has no favorite cookbook he will tell you that he loves to cook with mushrooms. Fresh porcinis, chanterelles, morels, trumpets and criminis are all on his “go to” list. His tip for cooking mushrooms – pan roast them with rosemary, olive oil, garlic, shallots, salt and black pepper. His other favorite ingredient is fish! Fish currently featured on the menu at Bacaro include Branzino, Halibut, Sole, Octopus and a variety of shellfish. 

Fabio says white truffles (because of the cost) and salmon are two ingredients that he feels are overused in kitchens today. Regarding food trends, his favorite  is using organic produce and buying from local farmers. Fabio says he also likes making smaller portions. He is triathlete and an Iron Man competitor and as such is interested in finding the balance between both great tasting and healthful meals.

Most weeknights during service you will find Fabio cooking on the line. He is either at the grill or pasta station. The pasta at Bacaro is house made and I can tell you from experience that it is delicious. On the weekends he expedites. “Expediting” is chef talk for standing in the kitchen communicating orders to other chefs as tickets come in, and ensuring a table’s dishes are ready at the same time for pick up.

Ultimately what makes Fabio the happiest are guests who like trying new things, guests who are adventurous and not scared to taste dishes like tripe or rabbit. Please stop in, try something new and say hello to Chef Fabio. Bacaro is open daily from 4 – 10 p.m. For reservations call 303-444-4888.

Westword’s Best of Denver

April 4th, 2010 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Westword just released their Best Of Denver 2010 and I am happy to report that many of the wonderful restaurants and markets that have recently participated with Culinary Connectors were singled out.

Best French Restaurant – Z Cuisine

Best New American Restaurant – Fruition

Best New Restaurant – Argyll

Best Samosas at a Non Indian Restaurant (Interesting Category – don’t you think) Vesta Dipping Grill

Best Ramen – Den Deli

Best Burger – Colt & Gray

Best Salumi – Il Mondo Vecchio

Best Almost Vegetarian Restaurant – India’s Pearl

Best Happy Hour in a Market – Tony’s Market

Best Happy Hour Deal – Panzano

Best Wine Bar – Village Cork

Best Late Night Menu – Steuben’s

Best Brunch – Colt & Gray

Congratulations to all the winners – let’s all make an effort to add them to our “To Try”  or “Visit Again” lists.