Sunday, May 03, 2009

Kokomo Wine Dinner

Venue is hosting a wine dinner with Kokomo Winery on Tuesday, May 12th @ 6:30 P.M. We are excited to be featuring their wines and have put together a fun menu to accompany them. Make reservations early as availability is becoming slim! Here is a preview of the menu.

Venue Welcomes Kokomo Winery
5 Courses, 5 Wines
May 12th, 2006 6:30 P.M.

english peas, leeks, parmigiano reggiano, pickled fennel salad

Rabbit Saddle
fava beans, speck, parsnip puree

Kurobuta Pork Belly
white corn grit cake, anaheim chiles, cilantro, lime

Beef Short Rib
Irish cheddar gnocchi, ramps, morel mushrooms, smoked ham hock demi

panna cottta, toasted granola, strawberry, vanilla

Prixe Fixe $70

For reservations call 303.477.0477

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

International Association of Culinary Professionals

The IACP is hosting their annual conference in Denver this year. I have had the good fortune to be one of the chosen restaurants that the world renowned chefs and restaurateurs of the association will be dining at this week. We had a brief meeting with the Board of Directors earlier this week and have a 7 course menu planned for this Thursday. Some of the famed chefs attending the dinner will be Andoni Aduriz of Mugaritz and Dan Barber of Blue Hill @ Stone Barns. I'm incredibly flattered, excited, and anxious to cook for such refined palates and culinary celebrities. Below is the draft tasting menu we have planned for the event:

Venue Welcomes the International Association of Culinary Professionals

Tasting Collection: April 2nd, 2009

Amuse Bouche

Smoked Pork Hock_ rillette, toast, cracked pepper, granny smith


Watercress_ grapefruit, Idiazabal, hazelnut

Ham Egg & Cheese_ guanciale, quail egg in the hole, ewephoria

Gnocchi Parma_ english pea, morel, pancetta, thyme

Colorado Striped Bass_ cauliflower “risotto”, salsify, leek

Rabbit_ ravioli, buttered carrot puree, sage

Short Rib “Stew”_ mirepoix, condensed tomato, “faux”coccia

Malt_ whopper shrapnel, vanilla malt, condensed milk

Turkish Coffee_ pudding, cardamom, donut

Monday, December 08, 2008

Venue: The Opening

I'm tired. We opened the doors to the restaurant about a month ago. A lot of sweat, hard work, and long hours have gone in to the opening of this restaurant. And you know's all worth it. We have created a beautiful restaurant. The decor is incredible, designed by Brand New Inc. We have transformed a space that was incredibly small and difficult to work with and made it amazing. I couldn't be happier. Everyone involved in the creation of this place has an incredible passion for what we are doing. It's a great feeling. To be surrounded by like minded individuals who have the desire to work hard, exert themselves like no human should in order to achieve a common goal. Holly Hartnett, the owner, is a prime example of this. She is there every day, open to close, ensuring that every person that walks through our front door is greeted cordially and appreciated as one of our honored guests. My kitchen staff is incredibly loyal, hard working and excited to be a part of what we have created here at Venue. This is just the beginning, but I look forward to an enjoyable and fruitful future here at Venue. I will keep you all up to date with the progress of the restaurant and appreciate your support.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Natural Progression

"Discover your divinity, find your unique talent, serve humanity with it, and you can generate all the wealth that you want. When your creative expressions match the needs of your fellow humans, then wealth will spontaneously flow from the unmanifest into the manifest, from the realm of spirit to the world of form."
-Deepak Chopra

I consider myself very fortunate to have realized early on what my passion is, and what I find fulfillment in doing on an every day basis. It can take people years to find what truly makes them happy, and in some cases people never come to realize their true calling. From an early age I was taught the importance of family. My mother, for instance, is an incredibly talented cook. She may not do things in the most conventional manner, but she gets it done. Not only did she value having all of the family together, every night, to enjoy a home cooked meal together, but she emphasized the importance of caring for your ingredients, and understanding preparation. She would involve my brother and two sisters in helping prepare our meal for the evening. Peel these potatoes, clean this lettuce, make this vinaigrette, slice that baguette. Simple tasks, yes, but necessary for the completion of the meal as a whole. She made us feel that we were an integral part of the final product we created, and gave credit to each of us individually that night at the dinner table. It was a feeling of accomplishment, and to this day I have a great appreciation for everything my mother contributed to my progression in becoming a professional chef. In regards to the quote above, it is something that I like to read over and over to myself, a constant reminder to myself that anything is within reach. If you have the passion to succeed, and the confidence in yourself to go after whatever it is that you desire, you can accomplish just about anything. I have been very fortunate in the past few years to have a relatively accelerated career path. I have worked under incredibly talented chefs who I admire on both a personal and professional level. I am incredibly grateful to everyone in my life that has been a part of my progression, and truly appreciate your support.

"He is a professional craftsman. He is a cook. He takes fowl from the air; fish from the waters; fruits, vegetables, and grain from the land; and animals that walk the earth, and through his skills and art transforms the raw product to edible food. He serves to sustain life in man, woman, and child. He has the sacred duty through his efforts and art to sustain and maintain the healthy bodies that god has given us to house our souls."
-14th Century European Guild Manual

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Always A Pleasure

To cook for someone who truly appreciates your efforts. Whether it be friends, family, loved ones, or fellow chefs; it's truly gratifying to create food for those who have a true appreciation for the work that you put into it. I had the opportunity this evening to cook for a fellow chef here in Denver, Chef Ian Kleinman of O's Steak & Seafood at the Westin Hotel of Westminster. He and his wife came into the restaurant tonight and allowed me to use my own creative whim to prepare their meal. I have a great respect for Ian considering he is an incredibly talented chef and is the foremost progressive creator of molecular gastronomy here in Denver. He has created a reputation for himself and recieved incredible praise from diners, chefs, and critics alike. Not only was I excited, and truly enjoyed cooking for him, but the fact that he came out of his way to experience my cuisine was quite flattering. As a chef, it is always my goal to raise the bar, go beyond what has already been done, and expand the possibilites of what cuisine can be, and how it can be experienced. I will be moving on from my current position as Chef De Cuisine in the next few weeks and look forward to the upcoming opportunites that are presented to me. I am always in pursuit of progression, and furthering my education and professional knowledge of this crazy profession. Thank you family, thank you friends, thank you colleagues. Cheers to the future.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Profession: A Summary

9:00 AM
I pull myself out of bed, pull focus at the time on my phone. 9:00AM. One hour until I have to be at the restaurant. A quick shower and I'm on my bike for the 5 minute ride down the street to work. Unlock the rear gate and grind it along its casters to open the back lot for employees. Walk through the back door, enter the code for the alarm. Turn on the lights, music, hoods, range, ovens, fryer, flat top. Check. First things first, prep list. Get the short ribs seasoned, seared, and in the oven to braise. That will be ready in four hours. Where the fuck is my pantry cook? Nevermind, continue prep list. Start veg stock, cut celery root, portion pork, pork marinade, portion fish. Back to the walk-in, checking seafood order. Clams, mussels, tuna, crab, perfect. No Baramundi? You've got to be kidding me. Fine, sub scallop for tasting menu.

10:30 AM
Ricardo, donde esta Maria?
Lo siento James, Maria es en el hospital con mi nina, es enferma.
No problemo, lo siento. Primero, necisito los pollos por favor.

Set up the line, pull proteins, put a count on bass, heat soups, grab sani for fish spat, tongs, spoons. Mise en place. Lunch special...lunch special... wow we have a lot of tuna for some reason. Seared Ahi, scallion potato "noodles", sake braised leek, sweet soy. Check. Deep breath. Upstairs to the office, lets see, I need to call RSI about inventory and see if my specialty food purveyor can will call me some Piave that I need for the cheese board. He'll bring it by this afternoon, Perfect. The part I hate about my day, office work, paperwork, scheduling, coding invoices, filling out time sheets and gradesheets for my JWU externs. Okay, done, get me out of this 90 degree office. Back downstairs, quick stop at the bar for a glass of water. Into the kitchen.

Slow lunch. I'm okay with that, it's Tuesday and I have to prep the new tasting menu. Produce order at the back door, let's see... strawberries, thyme, marjoram, lemons, carrots, arugula, and...spring mix. Three cases of spring mix? I can't use all of this, I only ordered 3 POUNDS, not three CASES. Take these back, give me a credit, yes, that's fine. I swear to god they can never get my order right. Unload produce in walk in, savoring the 3 minutes I get to spend in a 40 degree environment. Break down cardboard boxes, I hate them, produce is stored in plastic containers, milk crates, lexans. I have to get water on for asparagus, blanch gnocchi, cut fine herbs, what else...oh yeah finish the thai peaches for second course tasting, whip chevre for 1st course, and it looks like I'm using spring mix for the salad since they forget to put it back on the truck, perfect. I'm okay with free food. Bartender comes down to the kitchen: "James, there is some lady here who says she has a meeting with you." Fuck, I completely forgot I made a bogus appointment with Anderson to hear about their new meat and seafood program. I don't have time for this. "Yes, everything looks great, thanks for your time, I'll call you after I've looked over the price sheets. Thanks I really have to get back. Nice to meet you." Okay go away I am already running behind and have completely lost track of where I was at for prep. ASPARAGUS!

4:00 PM
Full dinner crew is here, Ricardo flying through pantry prep faster than anyone. June is butchering whole fish, Casey is straining my veg stock, perfect. Let's get the expo line set up, pink pepper, caper, parmesan, bonito flake, red bean chile, linen napkins, b&bs, EVOO, fill truffle oil. Bartender calls down to inform me the ice machine is completely empty. Fantastic, would have loved to know when it happened two hours ago. "That's fine, make it work for tonight, I'll change out the vent and we should be fine by tomorrow." Chef/Plumber/Electrician/Mediator/Mentor, was this all in the job description? Rummage through back cage to find new filter for ice machine, fuck i'm sweating. Unscrew panels, remove old filter, replace, reset, harvest, there we go. No wonder its not making ice it's 105 fucking degrees outside.

Pre Meal. Review oysters, east coast west coast, cheeses, sorbets, ice creams, custard, um..."oh and we will be grilling scallops for the tasting menu but as of tomorrow I will have pan seared Baramundi, Australia, white flaky flesh, crisp skin, awesome." Happy hour crowd convenes at the bar and on patio. App tickets roll in, oysters for bar 12, calamari on 55. "I need hands right now!" Calamari dying. Jack comes in back door with a 15 pound wheel of Piave. I'd already forgotten. "Thanks Jack that helps me out big, yeah, have a good night, take care." GM comes around corner with news that someone from Food & Wine Mag is on the patio at 52. "Who are they? Do you want me to put something together for them?" Amuse? No problem, 5 minutes. What do we have...the peaches we got today are awesome. Amuse Bouche, to entice the palate, to tantalize the senses, to whet the appetite. Peach. Peel, dust with sugar, brulee. Brillat Savarin, toasted pistachio, brioche. Looks good, wait bring that back, chive.

"Fire 42 course 2. Casey I'm looking for three pork all day, two medium one med rare. Ricky I'll take that heirloom to sell with 42. How long on clams for 55?" Plate, wipe, garnish, run, plate, wipe, garnish, run. Two peach for 23 walking out. "Go lighter on that dressing for those haystack salads okay? Nice tuna, that looks perfect" Plate, wipe, garnish, run. FYI that no butter on 34 seat 3 is a lactose allergy, okay? No butter no cream okay? Got it. Off line for mushroom back up, ribeye, baby basil. Shit, 15 minutes until I have to place my fish order. June how do we look on clams, mussels and bass? 3 pounds clams, 2 bass, plenty of mussels. Okay thank you. Offline for 2 minutes okay Casey? No problem. Deep breath. Check freezer, crawfish, squid, why do we have 6 boxes of squid? Whatever. 6# Tuna, 5# clam, 5# crab special, 8 each bass. got it. "Okay is this table 26? I need lots of hands please!"

Wrap, label, date. Protein in walk in, cover everything on cold well, scrub doors, range, flat top, tables, strain fryer, take out trash. Change out ice for fish, consolidate walk-in, cover brulees, what else what else...produce order. Case of Idahos, 10# Lemon, 3# spinach, CS pears, 4 oz chives. Fuck I haven't eaten anything since 10:00 AM this morning...I'm drained. My head has a dull throb, the sweat on my forehead has soaked through my bandanna, I can hardly pull focus on the notes I've jotted down for tomorrows order. My stomach is it knots, I feel malnourished and look even worse I'm sure. The bags under my eyes darker than they were at the start of the day, my nose stuffed with the remenance of smoke and grease from the grill. My back is fucking killing me and sitting down on an empty keg out back isn't exactly the most comfortable remedy. But hey, I'm off my feet for the first time in 12 hours, better than nothing I guess. Put away order guide, check ovens, "Hey would you be sure to hit that sink before you leave, wrap that bread, put those trays away and make sure we change out that fryer tomorrow morning. Thank you. Okay, everything else looks good, thanks for your help tonight, see you tomorrow." Change back into my jeans and t-shirt and out of my clogs that are killing my feet. Write myself a reminder to call RSI again tomorrow morning to straighten out the accounting issue. Lock the office, hit the lights, lock doors, walk-ins, dry storage. Set alarm, close back gate with the last ounce of energy I've got left. Walk out into the cool breeze that instantly gives me chills from the sweat that has already accumulated on the back of my shirt. I'm beat. I'll be home by midnight, just enough time to have a beer, go to bed, and be back in 9 hours to do it all over again.

Tasting Menu: 8/12/08

Haystack Salad
Pistachio, Currants, Haystack Chevre, Brioche, Honey Vinaigrette

Grilled Scallop
Crimson Lentil, English Pea, Sweet Corn, Thai Peach Salsa

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tasting Menu 7/29/08: Dessert Course

Lemon Tart

Toasted Granola, Brown Sugar, Blueberry, Honey Basil Gelato