Posts in Food Cart

Michael Drazsnzak of Colterra

August 15th, 2011 Posted by Boulder, Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Food Cart No Comment yet

Colterra Food & Wine lives in the quiet town of Niwot, surrounded by a beautiful garden full of herbs, eggplant, tomatoes, rainbow Swiss chard and other seasonal greats. This restaurant has the talent, drive and, most importantly, a love that can’t be compared to restaurants in bigger cities.  It is clear that each member of the staff is cared about and that each employee cares.  Everybody is happy to be there whether you are there for a shift or there to dine. It’s a devotion rarely seen in this business full of surly servers and bitter chefs. Aside from the steady adoration of both staff and patrons, Colterra is unique in its strong belief in farm to table.  Chef Bradford Heap is a pioneer and expert in the movement.  He has instilled his extensive knowledge into his staff and has paved the road for his executive chefs Michael Drazsnzak of Colterra and Kevin Kidd of Salt, his other successful restaurant on Pearl Street in Boulder.  I sat down with Chef Michael to talk about what this Colterra magic is.

Cooking for the past twenty-four years and growing up on a four acre farm in Northwest Arkansas made Chef Michael a perfect fit for Colterra’s overall food philosophy of local, organic, sustainable, and delicious.

What sets Colterra apart from other farm to table restaurants?

Our location–there is much more seclusion out here.  We also have a garden on premise.

What is your favorite local ingredient?

That changes from each season.  Right now, I’d say sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes.

What do you cook at home?

Simplified restaurant food.  I eat local vegetables and hormone free meats.  I love to grill in the summer–it simplifies things and doesn’t get the house hot.  I love grilled bread with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Very simple.

What is an under-utilized ingredient in restaurants?

Fresh herbs. My favorite is a sweet herb mix of chives, sweet basil and Italian parsley.  They could be used in a lot more places.

An over-rated ingredient?

Cracked black pepper.  Should be used more sparingly. It has a big flavor and should be used appropriately.  When it’s over used, it loses it significance.

Who do like to cook most for?

My wife.  Why wouldn’t I want to impress her?

Food Trucks!

September 15th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, Food Cart No Comment yet

The food truck trend is taking Denver by storm.  While popular in other cities like Portland and New York City food trucks have just recently popped up in Denver and Boulder. It’s a much less expensive endeavor than opening a restaurant. Carts either have a standard spot or drive around town using social media like Twitter and Facebook to announce their menu and location.

When you think about street food you might think about hotdogs or pretzels but cooks at the carts are doing very upscale and affordable food. David Bravdica at Brava pizza uses locally sourced ingredients for his pies. Elliot and Mike at Gastro Cart are doing things like pancetta sliders, with hickory smoked aioli and cider vinegar gastrique. Jim at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs does Yak Black Ale Cherry dogs and chicken and apple brats.

A great way to check out some of the trucks is to join Culinary Connectors for their first Food Truck Tour this Friday. From 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. stroll around downtown Denver and enjoy tastings at Gastro Cart, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, the Porker Cart and Brava Pizza. In true Culinary Connectors tradition the tour will end at Brava Pizza so that guests can not only enjoy David’s fabulous pies, but also have a drink for Happy Hour on Lannie’s patio.

Cheers!

Indulgence

August 23rd, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Food Cart, restaurants No Comment yet

I didn’t realize that August was going to be so hard on my waistline. This month has been full of foodie events and I have no will power to resist them. This weekend I attended four!  Friday afternoon I kicked off the weekend by doing a Culinary Connectors Highlands walking tour. We started at Happy Cakes, gorging ourselves on red velvet cupcakes. We made our way down the block with stops at Stella for housemade pasta, Bang! for grilled pork tenderloin with sweet corn and ended with paninis and sangria at Highland Cork and Coffee.

Saturday evening I braved the hot sun and walked in heels (wedges) in an unpaved parking lot to experience the Justice League of Steetfood. Over 2,000 people joined me to feast on Pinche Tacos, dogs from Biker Jim, biscuits from the Biscuit bus, the most amazing pork and pancake dish from Gastro Cart and Steubie Snacks from Pearl, the Steubens truck. Infinite Monkey Theorem and Great Divide provided beer and wine for the parched crowd.

Later, on the patio at Jonesy’s Eat Bar, I attended the Two Rivers Winery dinner in celebration of Harvest Week. Chef Brendon Doyle grilled melons, roasted lamb, fed us cherries from his father’s back yard and dished up bread pudding as we watched the sunset and delighted in the cool summer breeze.

I ended the weekend at the Summer Seafood Dinner at Infinite Monkey Theorem. This sold out event was put together by Alex Seidel of Fruition, Scott and Deanna Parker from Table 6, Justin Brunson from Masterpiece Deli and Jeff Osaka from Twelve. I mingled with fellow foodies and feasted on smoked sturgeon, oysters, shrimp, heirloom tomato salad, clams, housemade andouille sausage and seared scallop and pork belly skewers. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better Deanna Parker served her shortbread with peaches and whipped cream fraiche. Oh my!

I woke up this morning feeling slightly guilty…I had indulged all weekend long. I told myself it was time for a long run to make up for eating all week. I vowed to eat nothing but chicken and broccoli, do double cardio workouts and abstain from wine – but then I realized it’s Harvest Week and wouldn’t it be nice to have dinner somewhere tonight like Venue or Encore or Duo? So much for my waistline and my budget (but that is a subject for another day).

Just in case anyone wants to keep indulging with me click here for a list of the restaurants that are participating in Harvest Week. This is the third annual Harvest Week, a celebration of Colorado’s exceptional produce. Each participating restaurant creates a menu that features food grown in Colorado so get out there and savor it.

Steubens Truck – It’s Where to Eat This Weekend

July 2nd, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, Food Cart 2 comments

It’s forth of July weekend. I’m sure many of you are planning lavish BBQ’s and dinner parties out of doors. I’m not. I just moved and my house is utter chaos. I’m planning on eating at the Steubens Truck. I’ll be very happy with burgers, gravy fries, cupcakes and steubie snacks – deep fried pork rolled in powder sugar. Damn the calories, I’m even going to add bacon and egg to my burger. I’m sure I will work it off running boxes up and down the stairs at the new casa.

Chef Brandon Biederman will be manning the truck at Civic Center Park tomorrow evening. Even better, while you nosh on dinner you can also check out the free fireworks. Dinner, entertainment and a celebration for Independence Day. DONE. Does it get any better than that?

The Steubens Truck posts their location every day on Facebook and Twitter. Currently they are running a contest to name the truck. The winner will receive a free lunch. Post your ideas for a name and help the Steubens Truck get to 4,000 fans on Facebook.

Cheers!

Brandon Biederman – I Can’t Cook Mexican Food

June 23rd, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, Food Cart, Uncategorized 3 comments

I love tattooed badass chefs. Even better is a tattooed badass chef that drives a food truck. Brandon Biederman fits the bill perfectly. Brandon is the executive chef at Steubens Restaurant. This summer you will find him behind the wheel of the Steubens food truck.

The Steubens Truck serves a small menu made up of burgers, fries and deep fried pork rolled in powdered sugar. I call the pork crack but Steubens, being more PC, calls them Steubie Snacks. For dessert the truck offers cookies and cupcakes. You can follow Brandon and the truck on Facebook and Twitter. Lately they’ve been dishing up eats at Civic Center Park.

Brandon Biederman graduated from culinary school and immediately went to work at Tommy Tsuami’s. He became an executive chef at age 22 which he acknowledges was young and very overwhelming.

At the time he was getting seafood from the same supplier as Vesta Dipping Grill. “I had enough at Tommy’s and someone told me that Matty (Matt Selby) was hiring a line cook. I went for an interview, quit Tommy’s and started the next day at Vesta. That kind of stuff happens more often in the industry than you would think.”

“The Grill is my favorite station because you are in control of the kitchen It’s the power station. I used to strive on the stress of service. Now I stress about what is coming off my line cook’s stations.”

Brandon stayed at Vesta for 6 years before he “jumped ship” to Steubens. “I left Vesta because I needed to do something new. Steubens has been open 2 plus years now. It’s amazing that it’s been that long. I still remember doing tastings at 8 a.m. in the morning at Vesta because that’s the only time any of us had to come up with the menu for Stuebens.”


On being an Executive Chef:
I try to talk with all my cooks to make sure that everyone is happy. I currently have 32 employees in the kitchen and four Sous chefs. They are my right hands. Last week we broke the record number of covers in one day at Steubens. We did 1,182!


How has the menu at Steubens evolved?
It really doesn’t change much. I will change the sides and the braise but other than that it’s pretty much the same.


On Steubens:
Steubens is one of those restaurants that have a huge dynamic of guests. It’s a diverse group of people, younger, older, families, people on dates, people wanting to try Sean’s cocktails. I like cooking accessible food. It’s a take on the food we grew up with. People like to criticize us because we’re cooking the classics and sometimes that doesn’t translate exactly the way they had it as kids. That’s challenging. I like to take dishes we had growing up and put a little spin on them, stylize a bit. I think that the fusion influence from Vesta is obvious. Sometimes I come up with a new menu item and then realize I can’t put it on because it’s just too out there for Steubens. It gets too fancy quickly.


Challenges
: I can’t cook Mexican food. You will never see Mexican food on the menu at Steubens because it’s done better at other restaurants in Denver. My dishwashers will make Mexican food for staff meal and I just wish mine would turn out as well as theirs does. (more…)

Gastro Cart – hand crafted street food

May 9th, 2010 Posted by Food Cart No Comment yet

On Thursday I found myself with a few free minutes. I hurried downtown to 18th &         Curtis for my first “date” with Gastro Cart. Food trucks are all the rage right now and I have been dying to try Gastro Cart ever since I heard alums from Table 6 were behind this “hand crafted street food” concept. I wasn’t disappointed. The parking space Gods were kind and I was able to park directly across the street from the cart. Eight minutes and eight dollars later I had in my hand the most delicious carnitas taco,  spicy chicken taco and a side of quinoa. What a great lunchtime spot for anyone who works downtown. A quick walk, some fresh air and the ability to have a gourmet lunch prepared for you within minutes. For more information about Gastro Cart, click here.