There is not denying that something big has happened with Colorado’s culinary scene over the past decade. Throughout the state, from the Front Range and mountains to the Western Slope, creative chef/owners, research and development chefs for catering companies and resort executive chefs are using loads of local ingredients and shaking up menus and atmospheres in unexpected and delightful ways.
While gathering information for a “Colorado Chefs Dare to Dream” feature story for the fall 2018 issue of Colorado Meetings + Events (watch for this issue’s release in September) and a people profile article about Mathew Yamili for the winter 2019 edition, I asked the question: Is Colorado a good place for a chef to be located and why? Here are the insightful responses.
“Denver is having a food renaissance so to speak. Ten years ago there was not as much culinary activity in the city, but now it’s crazy. Innovative chefs are creating great new menus and concepts, chefs and cooks are moving to Colorado to work in the restaurant scene here, and the creativity and excitement of the industry is exploding. It’s very exciting times!” – Eric Robbins, executive chef/owner, Uncorked Kitchen & Wine Bar, Centennial
“Absolutely! Colorado is a major tourism destination, is the leader in the beer industry and has an abundance of natural resources such as Wagyu beef, lamb, produce and even cheese making that are on par with anything anywhere in the country. With the resurgence of cooking shows and now a James Beard award for best chef Southwest, all eyes are on Colorado.” – Josh Niernberg, Executive Chef/Owner, Bin 707 Foodbar, Tacoparty and Dinnerparty, Grand Junction
“The Denver culinary community is wonderful to be a part of. Our community is inspiring, our chefs are outstanding in their field, and our local products are hard to rival. I count myself lucky to be part of a great culinary community and the Epicurean family.” – Nikki Olst, research and development chef, Epicurean Group, Centennial
The culinary scene in Denver has “blown up,” with 300 restaurants opening a year and any spaces left behind by closed restaurants quickly filled. “It’s crazy what is happening; it’s very positive for us, but the labor market isn’t so great; we’re struggling to fill positions.” Plus, the “growing number of talented chefs is forcing everyone to raise the bar.” – Kevin Taylor, chef/owner, Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group, Denver
“This is a fun place to be; our team plays off of it and it trickles down.” Originally from southern California, this chef enjoys Colorado’s climate and the culinary competition
that “drives success.” - Paul Polizzi, resort executive chef, Omni Interlocken Hotel, Broomfield
“Denver is one big family. Food truck owners meet up daily, attend each other’s birthdays and feed each other. I wouldn’t be successful without the food truck community here in Denver!” - Mathew Yamali, chef/owner, Roll It Up Sushi Truck, Denver
What does this mean for groups? It’s the chance to tap the abundant culinary talent in Colorado to help make meetings and events both exquisitely tasty and truly memorable for attendees.