Denver's Local Flavors
The big trend in the culinary world these days is using locally grown ingredients, but Denver is way ahead of the curve here. Mile High City chefs have been taking advantage of the wide array of local producers in Colorado for years now, creating amazing dishes that are fresh, delicious and eco-friendly. Colorado offers free-range meats, artisan cheeses, fresher-than-fresh fruit and produce and much more. VISIT DENVER chatted with a few of the city's top chefs to get their thoughts on local ingredients.
Elise Wiggins, Panzano
WHY I USE LOCALLY-GROWN INGREDIENTS: I use local ingredients when they are in season because they taste fabulous most importantly, but also because it cuts down on carbon emissions not having to transport across the world or nation and also it supports small business farmers.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese, Coleman Beef, Summit Creek Lamb, Hazel Del Mushrooms, Palisade Peaches, Garfield Estate Wines. I'm excited and proud to say that Colorado has so many to offer.
Troy Guard, TAG
WHY I USE LOCALLY-GROWN INGREDIENTS: It is important to me to use local products because I feel I SHOULD represent the state I live in and support our local industry. We have great products and people here, why not draw from all that? Plus, it far better locally produced, it just feels right and tastes better when I can use and help out the people that help me.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: There are so many great products here in Colorado, but to name a few: Bizzy Bee Honey, Haystack Goat Cheese and Palisade Peaches are amazing! Try my Colorado Buffalo Panini with Pueblo chiles, Haystack Goat Brie and Palisade Grilled Peaches! It's a great dish for the summer.
Jen Jasinski, Rioja
WHY I USE LOCALLY-GROWN INGREDIENTS: I think in any place you are whether its in Denver or Santa Barbara that if you buy locally you are doing a number of great things. You are helping your local economy, you are lessening the carbon footprint of transport and you are eating much fresher.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: A couple of my favorites are the Palisades Peaches and Olathe Corn. I have a smoked corn risotto I just put on the menu that will feature that corn and I do a cabrales crostini with grilled peaches and Serrano ham as an appetizer.
Matt Selby, Vesta Dipping Grill / Steuben's
WHY I USE LOCALLY-GROWN INGREDIENTS: Using locally-grown ingredients is important to me for many reasons, the most natural being that I'm a native. I've enjoyed Colorado produce, meats and cheeses all of my life ... the quality and diversity of Colorado offerings are something I've simply come to expect. Also, I know the importance of supporting local agriculture, economy, and community. When all of those things are supported and showcased, our city's culture shines through.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: My number one, hands down favorite Colorado ingredient is Colorado peaches. Can't get enough of them ... when the season is over, I feel a little sad. That's why I try to always buy a surplus, which I pickle for the cooler months. Also I'm a huge fan of any of the goat cheeses from Haystack Mountain ... the Buttercup and Red Cloud in particular. Naturally, my "chef's instinct" is to combine the two, peaches and goat cheese. I like to simply grill Colorado peaches, and spread Haystack Mountain goat cheese onto the just-grilled peaches. Place the peach on a bed of arugula tossed simply in extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice and you have an incredible hot weather snack.
Tyler Wiard, Elway's
WHY I USE LOCALLY GROWN INGREDIENTS: Using locally grown ingredients is important to me because I know the farmers and have a relationship with them. There is definitely a sense of community and pride that we are using ingredients that are grown in our own state. Colorado is a unique state to have so many different ingredients from so many different climates, elevations, and terrain. That is another reason why it is so much fun using local ingredients.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: My favorite Colorado ingredients are peaches, fingerling potatoes, purple potatoes, rhubarb, mushrooms, lamb, goat cheese, onions, just to name a few. There are so many ingredients that sometimes I am still amazed how many local ingredients we can use as chefs in Colorado and Denver.
Chad Clevenger, Mel's Bistro
WHY I USE LOCALLY GROWN INGREDIENTS: I like using local Colorado ingredients for the simple fact that they are fresher, the quality is better because they are not producing the quantity that other states and countries are. With gas prices these days it is less fuel usage to get the products to the restaurants and safer for the environment with less carbon monoxide being thrown into the atmosphere.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: A few ingredients I use that are local would be Colorado Heirloom Tomatoes and Peaches in the summer months. At Mel's I do a Grilled Wild Columbia River King Salmon with an Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad and Cucumber Vinaigrette.
Rafael Najera, Executive Chef of Wash Park Grille
WHY I USE LOCALLY GROWN INGREDIENTS: Eating locally supports small farmers and helps to keep money in the community. Local food tastes better (it's usually fresher).
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: Grilled Olathe sweet corn, Colorado Rack of Lamb, Palisade Peaches.
Andrea Frizzi, Chef and Owner of Il Posto
WHY I USE LOCALLY GROWN INGREDIENTS: Slow food is our style. Local means fresh, means that we connect with the land its odors and aromas, the style of living and support our local economy. It’s about the culture of our region, the development and growth of our culinary standards and lifestyle
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: Peaches, plums, cherries, asparagus, lettuce from Verde Farm, porcini mushrooms from Mount Evans, red beets from Easter slopes, sweet corn, brussel sprouts, apricots.
Pete List, Executive Chef of Beatrice & Woodsley
WHY I USE LOCALLY GROWN INGREDIENTS: I use locally grown products for several reasons. First, to support the local farmers and producers. Second, I value and share the passion involved in growing or raising a high quality product. Quality is also a large factor for my using locally grown products. I like to know what I am getting, how it is treated and is fresh.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: As I have recently moved back to Colorado from Chicago, I am rediscovering some of my favorites. Currently, corn and the fabulous peaches from the western slope are among my favorites. Tomatoes are always high on my list as are good sweet peas and beans.
Aaron Youngblood, Chef at Dixons Downtown Grill
WHY I USE LOCALLY GROWN INGREDIENTS: I like to use locally grown ingredients for a couple of reasons, the first of which being that using locally grown ingredients helps Colorado businesses. It is very important to support the local economy. The second reason is that using shipped items takes a toll on expenditures because of rising fuel costs. Given the oil situation right now, I like to reduce the amount of fuel used whenever possible. The third, and most important to me is the fact that Colorado produces such wonderful product. Our climate supports a wide variety of vegetables, and local farmers produce some of the best tasting foods in the country.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: My favorite locally grown ingredients include peaches, melons, chilies, and heirloom tomatoes.
Pat Perry, Chef/Owner of Highland’s Garden Cafe
WHY I USE LOCALLY GROWN INGREDIENTS: Primarily because they taste better. There are some farmers (like Scott from High Country Orchards) that I have had relationships with for years. I grew up in Colorado and always like to utilize fresh local food when I can.
SOME OF MY FAVORITES: Palisade peaches, tomatoes, beef, goat cheese, cherries.