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Guest Spot – Three chefs join 16th Taste of Vail

Wren Wertin
Rick Moonen
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This year, instead of limiting themselves to one guest chef, the Taste of Vail board has invited three: Marshal Noguier, Rick Moonen and Jennifer Jasinski.Over the years weve met world-renowned chefs at Taste of Vail, says Kevin Nelson, executive chef of Terra Bistro. I find it rewarding and exciting because most of the people who come in are really well known, and we get to work with them.In addition to serving one course during a five-course chefs showcase dinner, each chef will lead a cooking seminar. Modeled on a cooking show, attendees will get to sample what each chef teaches at the end of the seminar. Wineries will be pairing wine with the samples.

Rick MoonenRick Moonen, executive chef and creator of the restaurant rm complex at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, will help open the festivities with the first of three Chefs Showcase Dinners.Hell provide one of five courses at Game Creek Restaurant, which will also include Chaps Grill & Chophouse, Ocotillo and The Wildflower.Really, Im sort of a last-minute procrastinator; but in the arena I work in, thats perfect, says Moonen. The chef often changes his menus on a daily basis, going for whats freshest. A nice concept, but difficult to maintain in reality. Moonen is driven. A contributing editor to Food & Wine Magazine, hes a frequent guest at the James Beard House and Macys De Gustibus Cooking School. But this is a totally new experience, he says. I jumped at the opportunity just to be a part of it. Im from the East Coast, so for me to be able to come out west and be a part of whats going on out here is a great opportunity.Rick Moonen is a great chef, Ferzacca says. Hes a driving force behind sustainable seafood.For his seminar, Moonen will educating the public on the seafood cookery techniques that have made him famous, as well as the important factors of maintaining a plentiful, sustainable supply of fish and seafood for generations to come.Martial NoguierMartial Noguier is just phenomenal, Ferzacca says. Hes worked for the best chefs in the world. Hes got a very French background.Chef of one sixtyblue in Chicago, Martial Noguiers cuisine strikes a balance between distinctive modernism and high cuisine, tempered by an inherent understanding of the palate. One sixtyblue was named one of the countrys best new restaurants by Esquire and Bon Appetit magazines, while Noguier totes around three stars by critics at the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Magazine. Noguier will join chefs from Ludwigs, La Tour, Terra Bistro and Sapphire in his Chefs Showcase Dinner at the Sonnenalp.Im happy and honored to participate, he says.Chef Noguier will demonstrate his trademark, French-inspired cuisine during his seminar.

Jennifer JasinskiThe Taste of Vail board specifically wanted someone from the Front Range, and Jennifer Jasinski, co-owner of LoDo hotspot Rioja, was a natural fit. The seasonally inspired restaurant is vibrantly decorated with a sweeping colorful relief splayed across vintage brick walls. Multi-colored lights pick up the pink sea salt and freshly ground pepper that adorns each table in little dishes.I could use fleur de sel, she says about the colorful salt, but people might not recognize it. Its good for people to notice when theyre getting something special.Special is a good way to describe her menu. Its a good read and tastes even better.Jasinkis tuna sashimi starter is a standoutthree layers of apple chips topped with the fish, drizzled with an anise vinaigrette. The Rioja house salad is spicy and pungent. Arugula and gorgonzola are sweetened with Medjool dates. Im driven by ingredients, but I dont put them together in classical ways, she says. I dont think its confusing, though. Its simple to understand: Were all about fresh, well-made food.Rioja feels like a neighborhood restaurant, and the staff is exceedingly warm. The staff is happy to pair by the course; everything served by the glass also comes by the half glass.We wanted the food and wine to be a pair, says Beth Gruitch, Jasinkis business partner. We have wines from all over the worldthe best wines from the best places. Though a large chunk of the wine list is Spanish, anything that teams up well with the cuisine is fair game for Gruitchs wandering eye.Pastas are a particular specialty of Chef Jasinskis. The handmade artichoke tortelloni and duck confit ravioli are decadent, but the braised veal cheek is a standout. So tender you dont even need teeth, its served with ricotta gnocchi and pumpkin nage. I think Taste of Vail is such a cool event, Jasinski says. I love seeing what other people are doingit helps me get new ideas.Jasinski will participate in the Chefs Showcase Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, along with chefs from Remingtons, SaddleRidge, Zachs Cabin and one other Beaver Creek restaurant. At her cooking seminar, shell teach the crowd to make fennel-and sesame-encrusted scallops with persimmon vinaigrette and crispy lavender-scented vegetables.Stephen Lloyd Wood contributed to this story.Vail Colorado


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