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MOUTHING OFF

Movin' on up: Robert Mancuso, the 26-year-old Olympic medal-winning chef who made the Normandy a contender again, has moved on. I heard that he'd hooked up with the swank Swiss Sonnenalp resort in Vail, but when I called to inquire as to Mancuso's status, the Sonnenalp staff acted as though I was trying to find out the recipe for McDonald's special sauce. "I wouldn't be able to comment on that right now," said the first guy who answered the phone. "I've never heard of him," said the second. "I don't think he's with us, but I'd have to have you talk to the executive chef to release that information." For heaven's sake, I just wanted to know if the guy works there. After I grumbled a lot, they finally revealed that Mancuso is chef for June Creek Grill, the Sonnenalp restaurant that serves the golf clubbers. What, no room for him in Ludwig's, the resort's fine-dining establishment? Ouch. Well, it's not like he's slinging burgers--except at lunch--since June Creek does a lot of "continental" stuff such as grilled tuna and venison. Mancuso should be able to spiff that up with his own special sauces.

Meanwhile, the Normandy, at 1515 Madison, says it hasn't missed a beat. Heading the kitchen now--along with, of course, Normandy owner and strict disciplinarian Pierre Wolfe--is Alberto Sapien, an almost-native Coloradan and former Olympian himself. Sapien spent ten years creating at the Denver Country Club before simultaneously running the Denver Petroleum Club, the Denver Club and Terrific Temps. He'll have the stamina, then, to withstand Wolfe's regimen.

Another former Petroleum Club employee, Tim Hannon, has purchased the Philadelphia Filly, at 1585 South Pearl, with a few friends and turned it into Flicker's Filly. The story behind the name is a new one: It seems Hannon and his investors are opening a bed-and-breakfast at 1410 High Street on September 1 in a building that was the subject of the book House of a Thousand Candles, so named because the former owner used to light a lot of candles throughout the house and installed mirrors to reflect them. The effect, Hannon says, was of a thousand candles flickering. Ahhh. Both of Hannon's new ventures reflect his background at the DPC and his work as a caterer. At the Filly, look for straightforward dishes with an Italian bent, with lots of pasta--including the old Filly's signature dish with applewood-smoked wild mushrooms.

The Filly's former owners, Sally Rock and Dale Goin, sold the place so they could offer their great cheesesteaks at more fairs and festivals, like the LoDo BrewFest. This year's event was packed, but people seemed more interested in the beer than the food. That wasn't the case at the first microbrew festival I encountered, the day after a wedding in Boston two years ago--and about a month before I moved to Denver, the microbrew capital of the world. I was walking along the pier, ran right into this happening, and proceeded to sample everything the fifteen microbreweries present had to offer. The crowd was so small that there were no lines, except at the Samuel Adams booth, where people marveled at the whole idea of microbreweries.

The scene was a little different at the LoDo affair, a massive undertaking featuring forty-some breweries. The second annual fest was well-organized and fun but so crowded I waited 25 minutes to get one six-ounce taster. Still, I can't complain anytime beer is involved.

 
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