Monthly Archives: February, 2011

Chef Bryan Nelson from Pacifica

February 15th, 2011 Posted by Aspen, Chefs, Culinary Connectors No Comment yet

Chef Bryan Nelson began his career at culinary school in Portland, Oregon. “I had never explored that part of the country before,” he said. After acing his classes he worked for a short stint at La Folie with Roland Passot in San Francisco and then headed to Colorado. “I explored a few ski towns before I decided I wanted to live in Aspen. I love this town, the culture, the skiing and the food.”

Like most chefs in Aspen Bryan works 50 to 60 hours a week, skis at least four or five days a week and when asked where his favorite place to eat is when he is not working, he immediately says, “My house. I have two small children so I like being at home.”

When was your “aha” moment of wanting to become a chef: I bar tended, worked front of the house, I valeted and yet I kept getting pulled back into the kitchen. Culinary school turned me on. I applied myself.

When I moved to Aspen I didn’t have the financial means to open my own restaurant and I wanted to work with other chefs before becoming an executive chef. The people I was currently working with opened Pacifica. It was already called Pacifica when they bought the restaurant. We made some changes but kept the same concept. There was no other restaurant in Aspen that was all seafood at the time.

What food trends are important to you: Sustainability. We don’t source our fish from any huge commercial fisheries. Our shrimp comes from the gulf and is never frozen. I believe the most important trend now would be having more of a connection with where your food is coming from.

On molecular gastronomy: We do a ton of sous vide cooking at Pacifica. All our veg, eggs and pork belly are done that way. We have two thermal circulators in kitchen. We just do a quick pick up in a pan on the line. Sous vide is all about consistency.

We are doing spherifications that we are using on the sashimi plates. We’re also starting to use agar agar. Since we have an open kitchen it’s interesting for people to watch us cooking the spheres in a calcium bath.

Chefs that I admire: Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert.

Favorite season to cook in: Summer. All the produce is in, especially the tomatoes. For seafood my favorite season is winter. The oysters are more consistent because the water is cooler.

If you could eat anywhere right now: Hawaii, because my family is vacationing there. But I would also really like to eat at the French Laundry.

What would you put on the menu if you didn’t have to worry about it selling: Alaskan Black Cod if I didn’t have to worry about the price.

Favorite cookbook: Under pressure by Thomas Keller and the Alinea cookbook.

Advice for culinary students: Make sure you love it or don’t do it.

Advice for home cooks: Don’t be so reliant on recipes.

If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing: I am still trying to figure out what I would do if I weren’t a chef.

What’s next for you: Possibly a remodel….but there’s lots in the works. People should try Pacifica if they like fresh seafood.

Pacifica –  307 South Mill Street, Aspen. 970-920-9775. Lunch 11:30 – 2:30. Happy Hour 3:30 – 5:30. Dinner 5:30.

Answers to How Well Do You Know Your Chefs

February 13th, 2011 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors No Comment yet

Here are the correct answers to the latest questions:

Which chef hates truffle french fries? Kate Horton from the Black Pearl. She would love to take those fries off the menu but doesn’t dare.

Which chef likes to cook on his jeep engine while four-wheeling? Mark DeNittis, the salumi master at Il Mondo Vecchio. He has in fact, written a cook book on the subject called “My Jeep Grille Adventures”.

Which chef wants to open a restaurant based on bowls, spoons and jars? Scott Parker of Table 6. Based on jarring of fresh ingredients Scott sees this restaurant as a “bad ass pre thought out fast food place. No waiting or anything.”

Thanks for playing. New questions will be posted this week in our newsletter. The first person to email the correct answers wins two free tickets on a walking tour of their choice.


Where to Eat for Valentine’s Day Weekend

February 11th, 2011 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, restaurants No Comment yet

I hope all of you have already made reservations for dinner but if you haven’t please call your favorite restaurant today. For those of you who don’t realize how busy restaurants get during this weekend – we compare it to New Years Eve – you should know how many line cooks are working overtime this week prepping for you and your sweetheart to enjoy dinner.

If your favorite restaurant is already booked, try cooking dinner at home. Start with a salumi plate from Il Mondo Vecchio. It’s loading dock Friday today from 2-6pm. Get cheese from The Truffle, some bubbles from Mondo Vino and cupcakes for dessert at Happy Cakes. The fine folks at Marczyks will help you put together a great main course as will the staff at Tony’s Market.

If you are looking for a gift to add to a bouquet of roses EVOO has a great selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars and Savory Spice has a variety of different spice blends.

They say a way to person’s heart is through their stomach. I couldn’t agree more. I hope all of you enjoy a scrumptious meal with someone you love this weekend.

Wine Dinner Tonight at Encore on Colfax

February 10th, 2011 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver No Comment yet

Thursday, February 10th, Encore on Colfax will be hosting a four course dinner paired with local Colorado wine and spirits. The menu also features locally grown foods.  Chef Paul Reilly, recently named as part of the Denver FIVE will work his magic on the fabulous menu that is listed below.  The party starts at 6:30 pm and be sure to get there plenty early for the passed appetizers. Call 303.355.1112 to make your reservation.

Check out the menu!

Passed Apps:

Red Beet Risotto Arancini, Ricotta Salata
Housemade Mortadella Panino, Fontina, Pistachios

w/ 2009 Garfield Estates Vin Rose Spritzer

Cumin Dusted “Maple Leaf” Duck Breast, Raspberry Gastrique, Green Lentil Salad

w/ Apricot Jackelope Gin Ginger Collins

Seared “Georges Bank” Scallop, Creamed Hominy, Chipotle-Onion Relish,

w/ 2008 Garfield Estates FuméBlanc

New Zealand Venison-Cranberry Stew, Gnocchi, Celery Root, Walnuts

w/ 2008 Garfield Estates Cabernet Franc

“Ugly Goat” Goats Milk Ricotta Cheesecake, Almond Crust, Meyer Lemon Caramel

w/ 2009 Garfield Estates Vin de Glace & Jack and Jenny Pear Eau-de-Vie

Bácaro – it’s Where to Eat This Tuesday

February 4th, 2011 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Recently Bácaro Venetian Taverna decided to reconnect with its true identity as a gourmet Venetian eatery. Huh? What that translates to is – they changed their menu. The new menu features over 75 small plate options meant for sharing.

This Tuesday night, February 8th, Culinary Connectors is hosting a Supper Club at Bácaro. Designed for foodies to meet in a “non-tour” setting, Supper Club is a fun way to spend an evening eating with others who enjoy food as much as you do.

Having attended a few of these Supper Clubs I can tell you the conversation is centered around food, cooking, chefs and cuisine. I’m anxious to see what Chef Fabio prepares for us and what wine he pairs. Isn’t dining with others and talking about food the best way to spend an evening?

Please join us. Click here to purchase tickets. Dinner begins promptly at 6:30pm.

Bácaro – 921 Pearl St., Boulder. 303-444-4888.

Restaurant Hours: Every Day from 4 to 10 | Happy Hour daily from 4 to 6:30

Late Nights: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Chef Martin Oswald – Chefs Belong in the Kitchen

February 1st, 2011 Posted by Aspen, Chefs, Culinary Connectors No Comment yet

I published this interview several months ago. Chef has recently left Ute City and Syzygy to open Pyramid Bistro. His new restaurant focuses on providing nutrient dense foods with clean flavors. He even mills his own flour. Enjoy!

Chef Martin Oswald is a rock star. He owns Riverside Grill in Basalt and is the executive chef at Ute City and Syzygy in Aspen. Plus, he’s from Austria, the land of sacher torte, gemutlichkeit and schnitzel.

Martin became a chef because of his mother. “I grew up living in the lush farming countryside of Styria, Austria. There my mother, who formerly worked in a Swiss restaurant, grew all her own vegetables, herbs and fruit. Meats, dairy products and honey were provided from the neighbors. My amazing mother cooked us three courses for lunch everday!” Martin grew up “living” farm to table, head to tail, organic, local, and seasonal. It was just how it was done.

In Austria kids decide at a young age whether to go to the University or to pursue a trade. Martin choose cooking and was sent to work as an apprentice 10 months of the year and to culinary school 2 months of the year. “You learn more working in a kitchen than you do in a culinary school classroom,” he says. Upon graduation Martin went to work at one of the most prestigious spas in Europe. At the Spa he quickly learned from the dietitians how to make healthy meals. To this day he tries to incorporate as much fiber into his cooking as possible.

When Martin turned 19 he moved to New York. While working in a large restaurant he learned to cook for a multitude of people and to do it well. It is a skill he still utilizes when he does catering for big events in Aspen. After New York it was off to San Francisco to work for a famous Austrian Chef, Wolfgang Puck at Postrio. This three story restaurant, with a kitchen staff of 75 had a multitude of different foods, tastes and plate presentations. “Everything at Postrio was made from scratch – from the puff pastry to the breads and the housemade salumi.” Martin worked every station at Postrio and actually turned down a promotion to be sous chef because he wanted to learn more about butchering. It was at Postrio that Martin was introduced to Asian flavors, foie gras terrines, house-smoked salmon and where he saw for the first time the breaking away of using butter sauces and béchamel. “Vegetables were grilled and marinated with EVOO. It was light and fresh cooking. It’s still a big influence for me today.” After Postrio came a stint at Sweet Basil in Vail and then finally Syzygy where he has been since 1995.

Which of the restaurants are your favorite: I like all of them because they are so different. Riverside Grill is about doing approachable food. Ute City is influenced heavily from my days at Postrio and Syzygy is all about fine dining.

On Molecular Gastronomy: It is a unique and eye opening experience for diners. Right now we are doing a crispy béarnaise and blue cheese powder at Syzygy. I want each dish to have a unique element.

On being a hands-on chef: The most experienced set of hands belongs in the kitchen, not talking with guests in the front of the house.

Favorite utensil: Mini spatula

Favorite cookbook: Babbo

Favorite restaurant: Guy Savoy in Paris

Favorite knives: Mac

What do you eat at home: My wife buys the best Irish cheese and there is always a bowl of seasonal fresh fruit on the kitchen table. I love fresh fish and I love to make pesto from the ingredients in my garden.

Tips for home cooks: Always get the best olive oil and balsamic vinegar that you can afford.

Most underrated kitchen tool: Mortar and pestle. Using this tool will change the flavor profile of an herb dramatically.

What would you put on the menu if you didn’t have to worry about it selling: Tripe. If done correctly it crisps up nicely. I would also like to feature brains with butter, shallots and raw egg yolk.

Rules in your kitchen: No picking on the weakest link. Everyone needs to work hard and respect each other.

Being a chef has been a wonderful journey. 28 years later I look at the evolution and revolution of cooking and how it never stops. Each day you search for perfection, a way of doing it better.

What inspires you: Currently, I’m inspired by Noma, a two star Michelin restaurant in Copenhagen that was named Best Restaurant in the World. The chef, Rene Redzepi is known for his reinvention and interpretation of Nordic cuisine. He uses molecular gastronomy and only super local ingredients. It’s perfection.

On being a chef: It’s like living in a state of madness.

Please visit Chef Martin at Pyramid Bistro. 211 E. Main Street, Aspen. 970-925-5338. Open for lunch and dinner.