Saturday, September 18, 2010

Denver Magazine Chef of the Year Awards

Tuesday was a night of great food, great company, and of course honors. Denver Magazine's annual award ceremony is a night to celebrate the best of the best in Denver, and highlights the top foodservice professionals in a mix of categories. And all of this to ultimately crown Denver's Chef of the Year.

The Talent
Simply enough, the categories are Mixologist, Specialty Chef (this year defined by the food cart "situation), Rising Star, Baker, and Chef of the Year.  Each set is nominated by a group their peers (so even a nomination is quite an honor) and the top 3 then go head to head in a final round of voting. But there's a catch- if you win, you have to come back the next year and cook for the preceding nominees and guests. So to start, here are a few gourmet highlights from last year's winners:

Alex Seidel (Fruition) - 2009 Chef of the Year
Rabbit Terrine with caramelized onion, allspice, Palisade peach, and a pistachio vinaigrette

Justin Brunson (Masterpiece Delicatessen) - 2009 Specialty Chef of the Year
Seared Diver Scallops with wax beans, heirloom tomatoes, herb vinaigrette and toasted pistachio
This dish brought it home for me, amazingly balanced with tangy, sweet, and savory notes. Scallop was perfectly tender, with a crispy caramelized sear.

I missed 2009 Rising Star James Rugile's (Venue) Heirloom Tomato Putanesca, I'm guessing that means it was pretty darn good. But basically we're talking talent, and that was reflected in both last year's winners and this year's nominees. After reading through this, I encourage you to stop by each and every one of these joints for a true 5-star experience.

Compliments: Denver Magazine
 Mixologist of the Year: Randy Layman (Vesta Dipping Grill)
Hon. Mentions: Kevin Burke (Colt & Gray); Sean Kenyon (Steuben's)

Baker of the Year: Greg Bortz (Denver Bread)
Hon. Mentions: Jeff Cleary (Grateful Bread); Michael Bortz (City Bakery)

Compliments: Denver Magazine
Specialty Chef of the Year: Mike Winston (Gastro Cart)
Hon. Mentions: David Bravdica (Brava! Pizzeria); Chad Clevenger (The Porker)

Rising Star of the Year: Brad Rowell (Colt & Gray)
Hon. Mentions: Chris MacGillivray (Olivea); Sergio Romero (Argyll)

Compliments: Denver Magazine
Chef of the Year: Jennifer Jasinski (Bistro Vendome, Rioja, Euclid Hall)
Hon. Mentions: Tyler Wiard (Elways CC); Jeff Osaka (Twelve Restaurant)

So for your next night out, follow the white plate. Go find out why these folks got the awards they deserved! And stop by the newsstand to pick up Den Mag's October edition with a full recap and Chef of the Year profiles. Congratulations to all, and Dish It Up!

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