Ritz-Carlton to host Taste of Vail Chefs Showcase Dinner
VAIL – Consider it a “culinary extravaganza.”The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, has joined the Vail Valley’s spring food and wine festival, the 16th annual Taste of Vail, as host to one of this year’s finest culinary experiences, said organizers. On Friday, April 7, at 7 p.m., Executive Chef Richard McCreadie welcomes fellow chef Jessica Jasinski of Denver’s Rioja restaurant at one of the festival’s three Chefs Showcase Dinners. “It is always great to be chosen as a part of such a fun event in such a great venue,” says Jasinski, named “2004 Colorado Chef of the Year” and “2005 Western Regional Chef of the Year” by the American Culinary Federation, as well as “Best New Chef,” “Rising Star” and more in Restaurant Hospitality, Nation’s Restaurant News, the Denver Post and 5280 Magazine.
The five-course, five-chef gourmet dinner promises to live up to its billing, as three other Vail Valley chefs will be on hand. Two of those chefs will be executive chefs Geordy Ogden of Saddleridge and Tim McCaw of Zach’s Cabin.”I’m totally stoked to work with these guys. I enjoy hanging out with other chefs in the valley,” says Chef Ogden of Saddleridge, who’s participated in other, similar events in the past. “Usually, with a pairing, you think of the elements of the wine you can showcase. You put them together and go from there, creating a synergetic relationship.”Events like Taste of Vail’s Chefs Showcase Dinners are complex affairs known to build camaraderie among chefs, sommeliers and winemakers, as all courses are paired with special selections from participating wineries. The night of the event, they all work together – along with select staff members – as one big team in the host chef’s kitchen.Of course, organizing such a sophisticated culinary event can be quite complicated. Typically, the host chef is the point person, who arranges meetings with the other chefs, his own sommelier and representatives from the wineries. Once the tone is set, the chefs toss more ideas around until everyone is comfortable with the menu and their role in producing it.
Chef McCaw of Zach’s Cabin, recent recipient of Wine Spectator’s “Best Of” Award of Excellence, says events like Taste of Vail’s Chefs Showcase Dinners always are learning experiences – not only for diners but for the chefs and sommeliers, too.”It’s always good to play in someone else’s back yard,” says McCaw, known for his “American cuisine with a Pacific flair. “I love to be around other chefs – how they conduct themselves, new ideas, new techniques.”Chefs McCreadie, Ogden and McCaw all welcome Jasinski, whose early career includes restaurant credits, such as: sous chef at Postrio, San Francisco; cafe chef at Spago, Las Vegas; executive sous chef at Granita, Malibu, Calif.; executive sous chef at Spago, Chicago; and corporate chef at Wolfgang Puck Food Company. With Puck’s support and encouragement, she even did a stint in Paris at Ledoyan, a Michelin two-star restaurant.
“Wolfgang was my mentor and my culinary role model. His philosophy that ‘it’s not necessarily what you do, but how you do it,’ is my mantra,” Jasinski says. “You can make mashed potatoes, or you can make great potato puree.”In 2000, Jasinski settled in Denver, joining the staff at Panzano, where profiles and reviews in local and national publications soon put her at the head of her class. Then, in 2004, Jasinski opened her own restaurant, Rioja, in Denver’s trendy Larimer Square district, serving handmade pastas, innovative “Mediterranean-Italian big plates” – even a “peerless consommé with duck raviolini,” according to Westword, a Denver weekly. “I believe you get out of things what you put into them,” says Jasinski. “I always want to get the most out of everything I do.”And with her tireless drive for perfection, Jasinski continues to garner resounding critical acclaim.
“After 16 years of cooking, Jennifer Jasinski now has her own place,” reported Food and Wine magazine last year.”The patio … has been busy since springtime weather came to the Mile High City,” added The Wall Street Journal.Vail, Colorado