TV show boosts Vail’s restaurant scene |

TV show boosts Vail’s restaurant scene

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily/David Giesbrecht/Bravo
David Giesbrecht/Bravo | Episodic

VAIL, Colorado – One thing’s for sure about Vail chef Kelly Liken’s experience on Bravo Television’s “Top Chef” – business at her namesake Vail restaurant is already benefiting from the show.

“We’ve definitely seen a boost in business, and we’re very thankful for that,” Liken said.

Liken was eliminated Wednesday night in the first part of the two-part season finale on the hit, Emmy Award-winning show. She was the only woman to make it to the final four, earning her a plane ticket to Singapore to compete in the final challenges.

Liken had an emotional exit from the show, but she said the overall experience has been really positive.

“I have every reason to be proud of myself and I’m excited to see what it brings for me and the restaurant, and for Vail,” Liken said.

Liken said she hopes to be an ambassador for Vail. She thinks the exposure from “Top Chef” could help bring Vail “to the forefront of national media as a great destination for food.”

Katie Coakley, of Peeples Ink PR and a loyal fan of this season’s “Top Chef,” said you can’t put a price on the number of times “Vail, Colorado” appeared under Liken’s name in each episode.

Coakley said Vail has already been gaining a reputation as a culinary destination, and Liken’s exposure will just give it another boost.

“The fact that she is from Vail is a great thing,” Coakley said.

Liken’s best friend Jenna Johansen, chef and owner of Dish Restaurant in Edwards, said she’s not only excited that the show is bringing Colorado and Vail more recognition, but also more recognition and respect for female chefs in general.

“For Kelly to be in the top four – I think it’s really nice that Kelly completely held her own with all the other male chefs the entire time,” Johansen said. “It goes far to break that stereotype that male chefs are the only great professional chefs out there.”

Johansen said Colorado is definitely a player in the national food scene and is thankful that Hosea Rosenberg, a Boulder chef who won “Top Chef” a couple seasons ago, and Liken have helped highlight that fact.

“I think Kelly being on “Top Chef” is not only great for Colorado and for people looking at Colorado as a place where talented chefs come from, but also the Vail Valley itself, and female chefs, too,” Johansen said.

Liken’s page was flooded with comments from many adoring fans by Thursday morning, some of them personal friends of Liken’s and some of them strangers.

What stands out are the comments from fans who have never been to Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail – although many people are now penciling a visit there into their plans.

“Kelly, good luck with your future endeavors. I’m so sorry to see you go. When I’m in Colorado, I will definitely stop by your restaurant,” wrote Dawn Disette.

It’s the kind of thing that makes Liken smile because when people come to visit her restaurant, the whole town will benefit, Liken said.

“I hope this “Top Chef” experience and exposure continues to show the world that Vail isn’t just a great ski mountain, but it’s also a (destination for foodies),” Liken said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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