By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Interested in a career as a chef? Cooking School of the Rockies (637 South Broadway, Boulder) has a professional chef-track program guaranteed to turn a boy into a man in just 24 weeks. Taught by a dozen or so local professionals -- and including a paid externship that will actually put you right in the belly of the beast -- this is a good way to see for yourself if you have what it takes. If you already have a few years on the line under your belt, though, Cooking School of the Rockies is also offering 150 hours of intensive training in pastry arts that covers all the basics of the other side of the kitchen -- the part that most line cooks never even see.
Cooking School of the Rockies has single classes, too, whether you're looking for elemental instruction or just trying to bulk up your repertoire. Basic cooking classes are offered frequently, interspersed with more focused topics like savory pastries, chocolate and advanced technique classes that'll have you flutin', rackin' and schiffonadin' like a born natural. And for the ultimate kick (and $3,300), you can tag along with Andy Floyd, the school's academic director, for a month in Provence. Learn everything you've ever wanted to know about French wine, food and artisan producers while eating your way through three meals a day in the country where haute cuisine was born. I don't know for a fact if something like this is necessary in the development of a good cook, but I've always felt that for a chef, a trip to France is what a pilgrimage to Mecca is for a Muslim: a return to the source, and proof of your dedication to the One True Faith.
Cook Street School of Fine Cooking (1937 Market Street) has another option: a European culinary tour that starts with eight days in La Cadiere d'Azur, where you'll shop the markets, visit the farms and spend your afternoons cooking in the kitchen of Hostellerie Berard under the guidance of chef Rene Berard. Following that, it's a quick trip south to Asti, Italy, for fourteen days of immersive study at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners. Classes are in Italian, interpreters are provided, and the price tag's a modest $5,900.
711 Grant St.
Denver, CO 80203
Region: Central Denver
Cook Street also offers crash courses here at home, one-month intensives that teach a little bit of everything (including either bread-making or pastry) and let you work alongside students on the professional track. There are also individual courses in classic technique, breads, baking, knife work, you name it, as well as kids' classes. And every Friday, dabblers can dip into Rush Hour Wines ($49) from 5:30-7:30 p.m., complete with wine tastings, hors d'oeuvres and conversation. For all the facts, visit www.cookstreet.com or call 303-308-9300.
Leftovers:Once upon a time, the most upscale restaurant in the area north of Sixth Avenue and just east of Broadway was Chef Henri(301 East Seventh Avenue). Today that spot is occupied by Benny's Restaurante & Cantina, which packs the crowds in every night (and day) of the week. Benny's original home, at 225 East Seventh Avenue, now holds Mizuna -- whose owners, Bonanno and Doug Fleischmann, have survived test dinners, made it through a soft opening this past Saturday night, and are now digging in for the onslaught of regular diners at their new place, Luca d'Italia, around the corner at 711 Grant Street, in what had been China Hill.
The space looks great, by the way, but what about the menu? Here's a peek: housemade mozzarella with Tuscan olive oil, fresh basil and roasted peppers; a warm polenta terrine studded with sweet sausage and sheep's cheese; duck-liver ravioli; white bean and basil agnolloti in a tomato broth, with Reggiano Parmesan; whole-roasted striped bass with braised fennel and a citrus vinaigrette; a New York classic pizzaola strip steak with peppers, onions and sausage; chicken three ways; veal three ways; rabbit three ways.... The list goes on and on.
Of course, just a block down the street, at 410 East Seventh Avenue, is the four-month-old Vega, in the space that once held Sacre Bleu (and JV's the Cork, and Transalpin before that).
And you thought LoDo had parking problems!
The neighborhood's only going to get more crowded, too. Racines, located at 850 Bannock Street for two decades (which means it was there long before anyone called the area the Golden Triangle), finally had the plug pulled on its lease by landlord Bruce Berger, who's selling the property (and the entire block that surrounds it) to Hanover Development out of Houston, so that Hanover can build some fancy-shmancy apartments -- a real smart move in this economy. The Racines group (which also owns Dixons and Goodfriends) always knew that this day might come, and so had been scouting nearby neighborhoods for some time. It's settled on a property at 660 Sherman Street, but there's a problem: The group will be breaking ground on the new space at the beginning of April but doesn't expect to be finished until the end of November, according to Lee Goodfriend, part of the ownership triumvirate that includes Dixon Staples and David Racine. And they have to clear out of the old Racines by June 10.