Tyson Cole and Brother Luck talk food, goals and what they love about Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend
Winter Culinary Weekend at Beaver Creek is one of the most anticipated events of the winter season. So many of the events sell out because locals and visitors alike are excited to try new flavors, in both food and beverage, from their favorite chefs and culinary professionals. This year, the event takes place from Thursday, Jan. 23 – Sunday, Jan. 26, and visiting chefs this year are Antonia Lofaso, Josh Niernberg, Giorgio Rapicavoli, Katsuji Tanabe and Andrew Zimmern.
The remaining two chefs from the weekend’s roster are Tyson Cole and Brother Luck, who both sat down with the Vail Daily to discuss their culinary careers. Here’s what they had to say.
Cole is one of just a few American sushi masters and trained for more than a decade in Tokyo. His restaurants include Uchi, Uchiko, Uchibā and LORO Asian Smokehouse & Bar. The James Beard Award-winner enjoys fusing traditional cooking techniques with Pacific Rim influcences.
Signature Dish: Hama Chili, definitely. At Uchi we strive to create dishes that offer the perfect bite, and this dish represents how I learned to make sushi my own way. I really love the balance in this dish and the use of citrus.
First dish I ever learned to cook: When I was 9 or 10 I learned how to make a grilled cheese — open faced — and tomato soup and I made it every day for weeks. So, yes, it was successful.
The hardest thing I’ve ever cooked: The hardest thing I ever had to make was when I competed on “Iron Chef.” They tell you in advance three ingredients you might have to cook with and we ended up with scorpion fish – a delicious fish, but the fins are poisonous. So, when they told us it was scorpion fish I had 30 minutes to clean the fish – with the poisonous fins – and thirty minutes to make 5 different dishes.
Favorite dish from childhood: My mother was from Baltimore, MD, and her mother, my maternal grandmother, used to make bone-on pork chops with a Bolognese sauce and pasta. It was my favorite. To this day, pork chops always remind me of her and that dish.
Favorite experience in the culinary industry: Certainly opening the first Uchi in Austin was an amazing thing, but receiving a James Beard Award in 2011 and attending the event in New York City, with so many chefs and people from the industry that I respected, is the absolute highlight of my career.
Favorite ingredient to work with: I would have to say vinegar. I love how clean it is. It brightens everything up. We use vinegar in almost every dish at Uchi and there are so many varieties to work with — rice vinegar, Italian Balsamic Vinegar, Ponzu…
Advice you’d give to your younger self: Be patient. When you’re young, you want immediate gratification, and if I’d just known then that staying the course would lead to great things, it would have been easier.
Goals for the future: My goal is to continue to evolve and grow the company in new markets – both in Texas and outside of Texas. We’re opening an Uchi in Miami this year, and LORO in Houston and Dallas, and Uchiko in Houston, so it’s a really exciting time for Hai Hospitality.
The thing I’m most excited for at Beaver Creek Culinary Weekend: I always look forward to time away from the usual routine and I’m really looking forward to being back in the mountains. I’ve spent a lot of time in Colorado, but not Beaver Creek, so I’m excited to check it out. And events like these are always fun because you’re around so many talented chefs with different points of view.
Luck spent years training in cities worldwide before settling in Colorado Springs, where he currently operates Brother Luck Street Eats, which fuses Asian and Southwestern cuisine. He competed on the food reality competitions “Chopped,” “Top Chef” and “Beat Bobby Flay.” In addition to sharing cuisine, Luck uses his platform as a chef to promote mental health awareness with #NoLucksGiven.
Signature Dish: One of the dishes that I’m actually going to feature as one of the passed hors d’oeuvres on the Thursday night reception is the tempura jalapeño poppers. It’s a fun flair of my love of working in Asia, mixed with having a restaurant here in the Southwest. You’ll get to experience that, which is a cumin-spiced cream cheese with a coriander-cilantro tempura batter. It’s a pretty cool dish.
First dish I ever learned to cook: Gumbo. My family is Creole, so cooking gumbo is a family experience. I’ve got a photo with myself and my grandmother and my mom. I was extremely young, probably 5, 6 years old.
The hardest thing I’ve ever cooked: Anything on “Top Chef.”
Favorite dish from childhood: Gyoza. My father used to take me to this small little dim sum restaurant in San Francisco where we grew up and it’s one of the reasons why I opened a dumpling shop.
Favorite experience in the culinary industry: Wow, there’s so many. Getting the opportunity to travel through Japan on a full-ride scholarship was pretty special. It’s opened a lot of doors for me and built a lot of relationships and it’s always been a place I’ve wanted to travel to.
Favorite ingredient to work with: Right now I would say whole lamb. I just really enjoy working with great product and I’ve got some great sources down here in southern Colorado. The balance of gamey-ness to fat content — it requires technique. A lot of people really aren’t huge lamb fans, so being able to put something together that can sway a mindset I think is important and powerful.
Advice you’d give to your younger self: If I were to give myself some advice when I was 18-year-old Brother Luck, it would be open my business sooner. Just go for it.
Goals for the future: Utilizing my time and valuing it. I’ve got an amazing list of culinary experiences, starting with Beaver Creek, and it finishes out with a few weeks in Japan. It’s going to be a pretty cool year but you know, really going to enjoy that time and have that work-life balance.
The thing I’m most excited for at Beaver Creek Culinary Weekend: Besides the skiing, getting to see so many familiar faces. I always love a good conversation with Antonia (Lofaso). We’ve all got that “Top Chef” connection when we all get together. Fun story from last year, my wife struck up a conversation with the two gentlemen sitting next to us on the chair and he was talking about how excited he was about this culinary event that was going on and he couldn’t wait to meet his favorite chef, Brother Luck. What are the odds? My wife goes, “that’s pretty funny, he’s sitting right next to you.” I took off my goggles and he wigged out the whole ride up to the very top of this mountain. But I think that’s what so cool about being in Beaver Creek and in the village. It’s so small that you’re going to run into these people.
The classic Beaver Creek on-mountain restaurant serves five courses of seasonal alpine delights.