Fundraiser dinner at La Tour in Vail to feature former local ProStart graduates |

Fundraiser dinner at La Tour in Vail to feature former local ProStart graduates

Zander Lucero and Jeffrey Fuller are learning the tricks of the culinary trade from La Tour owner-chef Paul Ferzacca, their ProStart mentor. La Tour is hosting a ProStart fundraising dinner Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: Colorado ProStart Reunion Dinner & Fundraiser.

When: 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Where: La Tour Restaurant & Bar, 122 E. Meadow Drive, Vail.

Cost: $150.

More information: Buy tickets online at or by calling La Tour at 970-476-4403.

Dinner menu

Reception — Goldspot Brewing Co. keg of La Cienega. This farmhouse ale is a tip of the cap to the mining histories of both Colorado and the Hainaut region of Belgium; margaritas; Breckenridge Bourbon.

Hors d’oeuvres

• Chef Colby Leflaive — Bay scallop ceviche

• Chef Matt Thompson — Caramelized onion and cheddar gougeres

• Chef Paul Ferzacca — Veal sweetbreads, lemon brown butter, capers

• Chef Andrea Knight — Crispy spiced pork belly, orange marmalade

• Chef Riley Romanin — Lemongrass ruby red shrimp, ají roja and Peruvian ginger leche de tigre spuma

First course — Chef Riley Romanin, of Hooked & Revolution Restaurants, Beaver Creek: Japanese sea bream cannelloni, with yuzu, mascarpone, enoki mushroom, kizami kelp, hon-shoyu and rayu, chili oil, paired with a wine to be determined.

Second course — Chef Bart Clark, of Loaded Joes, Avon and Vail: Seafood to be determined, paired with 2014 Michel Gassier Cercius Blanc, Classic Wines.

Third course — Chef Paul Ferzacca, of La Tour Restaurant: Fontina cheese and black truffle ravioli, with black truffle sauce, paired with a wine to be determined.

Fourth course — Chef Colby Leflaive, of Moe’s Original BBQ, all over America: Smoked beef brisket, with pasilla chile salsa, black bean huarache, paired with 2005 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva, Natural Wines.

Fifth course — Chef Matthew Thompson, of Williams & Grahams, Denver: Colorado lamb rack, with celery root puree, baby carrots, butter-braised turnips, paired with a wine to be determined.

Dessert — Chef Andrea Knight, of The Noshery Café, Denver: Warm tarragon cake, almond ice cream, macaron, pomegranate reduction, paired with a wine to be determined.

The ProStart All Stars are putting the team back together.

On Tuesday, La Tour owner-chef Paul Ferzacca will host a reunion dinner that will feature five of his former Colorado ProStart students from Battle Mountain High School. Each chef will prepare a signature dish paired with wine donated by local wine purveyors.

Great begets great

Like all good coaches and mentors, Ferzacca said he wants his students to accomplish great things. Many of his former ProStart students are well on their way.

After graduating the culinary mentoring program, the ProStart chefs have gone on to manage their own kitchens, as well as open and run their own restaurants.

For the All Star Reunion Dinner, the lineup goes like this:

• Coach Ferzacca, of course, is La Tour Restaurant and Bar owner-chef.

• Riley Romanin is with Hooked & Revolution Restaurants.

• Bart Clark is executive chef with Loaded Joe’s.

• Andrea Knight is chef-owner of The Noshery Cafe in Denver.

• Matt Thompson is executive chef with Williams & Graham in Denver.

• Colby Lefebvre is general manager of Moe’s Original Bar B Que, a growing national chain.

Dinner and some show

The dinner is a fundraiser for the ProStart program. It’s also a chance for Ferzacca and his students to show off a little, and there’s an element of that in the heart of every successful chef.

“The idea for this reunion came to me when I ran into a past student, Bart Clark, at Loaded Joe’s, where he was working,” Ferzacca said. “This reunion dinner will give the community a ‘taste’ of these ProStart graduates’ successes and an opportunity to truly experience how the program has cultivated a foundation for each chef.”

Dinner and dynasty

ProStart teams are like four-hands piano, only with eight hands, flames and razor-sharp knives.

Battle Mountain teacher Sharon Wible has headed the school’s ProStart program for a dozen years and has nine state titles and a national championship. That makes her the John Wooden of culinary coaches.

Heather Weems has been around for most of that run, as has Ferzacca. Weems is with Colorado Mountain College’s culinary program.

During competitions, they have four cooks, three courses to prepare, two burners and one goal. There’s lots of banter and joking — until the clock starts.

They have one hour from prep to plate, plenty of time but none to waste.

They’re justifiably proud of their program. Local ProStart students have earned more than $3.5 million in scholarships.

Along with those state and national titles, Battle Mountain ProStart teams were second twice at nationals, fourth once and fifth once.

What is ProStart?

ProStart teaches everything from culinary techniques to management skills through an industry-driven curriculum that emphasizes real-life experience.

It’s a two-year culinary program taught in high schools around the country, sponsored by the National Restaurant Association. Students who complete the program are eligible for scholarships and other opportunities.

ProStart combines an industry-driven curriculum and competitions and networks with local restaurants. Locally, both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain high schools have ProStart programs.

ProStart reaches more than 95,000 students in 1,900 high schools across 48 states, Guam and U.S. military bases.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

Support Local Journalism