Iron Chef challenger Kurt Boucher wins the top spot behind the line at Satchel's on 6th
Courtesy of the Food Network
It wasn't nearly as bad as the walkout that Troy Guard, the owner/chef of TAG, experienced two weeks ago when a vocal majority of his staff hoofed it out the door after news that Guard and his soon-to-be-ex-wife had a parting of ways, but Andrew Casalini, the owner of Satchel's on 6th, got a small dose of what that feels like, when three members of his small staff, including opening chef Jared Brant, all quit within the last two weeks. "Yes, some people walked out," admits Casalini, adding that he also fired his sous chef. "We had a disagreement over the rules of thumb of running a restaurant, and while it's unfortunate that I couldn't keep a lot of my guys, including Jared, some of them seemed to have more allegiance to their own vision as opposed to my vision of the restaurant, so there was a parting of ways."
Brant has joined the cast of characters at Wild Catch, Justin Brunson's new restaurant that opens in late August in Uptown, and Casalini has a new executive chef, too -- one who's fresh off the heels of cooking for the likes of Puff Daddy and William H. Macy.
"I've spent the week private cheffing for Puff Daddy, and the past several months in Aspen cooking for William H. Macy," says Kurt Boucher, the new guy at Satchel's on 6th, who's a culinary celebrity in his own right, having battled against Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America in 2007. But Boucher -- who calls himself a "glorified dishwasher" -- has cooked in several professional kitchens throughout Colorado, including the Pine Creek Cookhouse, just outside Aspen in Ashcroft, where he spent nearly fifteen years on the line. Most recently, he was the owner/chef of the The Butcher's Table, a small, seasonally-driven restaurant in Salida.
And at Satchel's on 6th, where Boucher will start cooking next week, he plans to gradually make changes to the menu. "I want to walk before I run, but the goal is to stay local and farm-to-table, and to concentrate on crisp, clean and simple ingredients," says Boucher, adding that he was attracted to working at Satchel's -- and with Casalini -- "because it's a small place that's really comforting, and after several conversations with Andrew, I think we're on the same page and that we'll mesh really well."
Casalini agrees: "Kurt is a solid, mature, kick-ass chef, and I really feel like we have the same goals when it comes to food and wine, and I truly think he'll help me to keep Satchel's a great neighborhood spot with a commitment to being local," he says.
Boucher will unleash a new menu next Wednesday, but in the meantime, if you pop into Satchel's this weekend, Casalini is offering a few food and wine specials to tide you over until Boucher gets his feet behind the line. If you order a bottle or glass of wine, Casalini will pair your selections with complimentary small bites. And coming soon, he says, are Sunday night chef tasting dinners, paired with wines, and once-a-week shift meals, which Casaline describes as "a re-focused happy hour, where you can get an off-menu dish paired with a beer or glass of wine" after 9 p.m.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.