Early last week, when the James Beard Foundation announced the crop of chef and restaurant finalists vying for the Foundation's annual awards, there wasn't one Denver chef or restaurant that made the cut. In fact, Colorado's culinary prowess, save for Frasca Food & Wine (Outstanding Wine Service) and Ryan Hardy of Montagna at the Little Nell in Aspen (Best Chef: Southwest), was all but snubbed.
But Venue executive chef James Rugile, who was nominated as a James Beard Award semi-finalist, just got some very good news, namely that he'll be a guest chef at the James Beard House this September. "I was at the restaurant when I got the call, and I couldn't believe it. It was surreal," says Rugile, who received the invitation from Wendi Royal, a member of the Foundation's programming committee.
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"I was told that she'd done her research on me after I was nominated as a Rising Star Chef," continues Rugile, adding that he "considers this the highest honor and greatest achievement in my career thus far."
Rugile will fly to Manhattan sometime in September (the official date still hasn't been determined) with Chris Shmidt, his lead line cook, along with one other member of his staff. "I'll be putting together a five- or six-course fall menu that's very similar in style to the food we do at Venue," explains Rugile.
Before he traipses off to cook for some of the most intimidating food snobs in the country, he'll host at least one practice dinner at Venue. "I think it would be a great idea to do a rehearsal dinner at Venue beforehand, which would give Denver an opportunity to see what I'll be presenting at the James Beard House," he says.
Stay tuned to this space for upcoming dates.