• Colorado’s culinary renaissance from six chefs’ perspectives

     
    POSTED July 30, 2018
     

    Mathew Yamali can bring Roll It Up Sushi Truck to groups for sushi rolling classes. Photo courtesy of Roll It Up Sushi Truck. 

  • Colorado’s culinary renaissance from six chefs’ perspectives

     
    POSTED July 30, 2018
     

    Nikki Olst and co-workers at Epicurean Group, including founder Larry DiPasquale in the center. Photo courtesy of Epicurean Group.

  • Colorado’s culinary renaissance from six chefs’ perspectives

     
    POSTED July 30, 2018
     

    Kevin Taylor, and his son, Ryan, plating their latest creations. Photo courtesy of Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group.

  • Colorado’s culinary renaissance from six chefs’ perspectives

     
    POSTED July 30, 2018
     

    A sampling of the cuisine at Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction. Photo by Cat Mayer.

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.

Lumière with Inspirato in partnership with Telluride Ski & Golf announced a new collection of small group experiences, the Forum Retreat Packages.

 

It has been an incredible winter to travel around to various Colorado ski resorts as the snow conditions have been nothing short of terrific. Snowmass, Vail, Beaver Creek, Winter Park, Steamboat Springs, Monarch and Keystone have been part of my Winter 2018/2019 ski agenda, in addition to my home mountain Crested Butte Mountain Resort of course. I’ve written about a couple of these excursions lately and want to share some of the happenings and experiences that are group-friendly and a lot of fun in Steamboat Springs.

 

A recent visit to Grand County confirmed that if I lived closer, I would definitely spend more time there. Isn’t that how you want attendees leaving a meeting or event in the destination you chose, saying “That was so fun, I can’t wait to return!”?

What I like about Grand County is the diversity of experiences you can have in an area that isn’t overly busy and has a lot of charm. There is a ton of open space, and the locals are friendly. Pretty much all of my experiences in Grand County are winter-based so that is my focus here, but summer and fall are equally as nice.