Vail Valley Voices: Our Top Chef is Kelly Liken |

Vail Valley Voices: Our Top Chef is Kelly Liken

Linda Stamper Boyne
Vail, CO, Colorado

I almost broke my ankle the other day. I wish I could tell you I was doing something adventurous and outdoorsy when it happened, such as rock climbing or hiking a 14er. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.

My incident involved a 9-year-old boy, a remote control and a wholly inappropriate television show. A scene was unfolding on the screen that was clearly headed in a direction he did not need to see. In a desperate attempt to turn off the TV, I performed an Olympic-worthy leap toward the remote control in his hand. The unfortunate placement of his shoes in front of the couch messed with my landing, causing me to twist my ankle and crash to the floor, missing the remote altogether. I did, however, manage to draw his attention away from the show long enough for the offending scene to end.

Watching TV with the kids is getting more and more challenging. The shows are either increasingly violent, depicting crimes in graphic detail, or so full of sexual content, both innuendo and overt, they can’t be viewed without disclaimers, explanations, caveats and the occasional covering of the eyes and/or ears.

For our rainy evenings this summer, we found acceptable and entertaining viewing in competition reality shows. I’m not talking about the ones creating celebrities out of wannabes by airing the often disturbing and overly intimate details of their lives for all the world to see.

The ones we watch, such as “The Next Food Network Star,” “Work of Art,” “Design Star” on HGTV, “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Project Runway,” feature people with talent, skills and experience who are competing for prizes that can boost their careers to new levels.

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These shows seem to have enough competition in them to keep the boys engaged. I look at it as broadening their cultural boundaries beyond sports, video games and pedestrian cartoons. They are learning to appreciate what goes into creating some of the finer things in life. The boys pick their favorite competitors, rooting for them along the way, becoming young foodies-art critics-interior designers-dance aficionados-fashionistas in the process.

I think these shows also illustrate how hard people work to achieve their dreams, the kind of drive and desire it takes to accomplish their goals. How someone with a passion can dedicate themselves to it and see it through to the end, working hard to become the best.

Our favorite show of all has to be “Top Chef.” And this season, we’ve had the added excitement of watching Vail Valley’s own chef and restaurateur Kelly Liken compete in Washington, D.C., with 16 other chefs from across the country.

It’s been so fun watching her! We love having that hometown connection to the show, and she’s really holding her own, representing Colorado well. She’s won challenges. She’s impressed the judges. And her talents have spawned envy amongst the other cheftestants.

My boys had a few things to say to the judges when they put her in the bottom three a few weeks ago. That did not go over well in the Boyne household. I think the boys are as invested in her victories as she is.

Having never eaten at Restaurant Kelly Liken, I decided that it was time to find out for myself what the buzz is about. Before we went to a performance at the Vail International Dance Festival last Sunday, a girlfriend and I stopped into the restaurant for dinner.

On Sundays this summer, they have a wonderful $45, three-course Harvest Dinner special. Kelly shops at the Vail Farmers’ Market, then plans her menu for that evening around what she purchases, creating a limited menu of all fresh, locally grown food.

Every single bite was fantastic and the service was wonderful. My friend said it was the best meal she had eaten in a long time. We shared everything so we could try it all. I could describe everything in minute detail, but I only get 700 words each week and that’s not enough. If I told you I clapped with excitement when the entrees came, does that paint the picture?

She may be one of the top eight on “Top Chef,” but she’s definitely No. 1 in my book. Be forewarned, Restaurant Kelly Liken, my boys want to come with me next time.

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