When Justin Brunson, the captain behind the magnificent Masterpiece Deli, opens Wild Catch, a sustainable seafood restaurant in Uptown, he'll steer his kitchen along with a tag team of several other high-profile chefs -- none of whom, by the way, are from TAG, Troy Guard's Asian restaurant in Larimer Square that recently experienced a mutiny on the bounty when more than a dozen staffers strolled out the door.
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Instead, Brunson has netted five other super-talented big-name chefs to man the ship, including Lance Barto, who commanded the kitchen at Strings for three years; Johnny Fermento (Fruition and Food Guy Catering); Josh Kauffman (former sous chef at Steuben's); Galen Kennemer, who's worked alongside Brunson at the deli for several years (and also did time in the kitchens of Fruition and the long-gone Emma's); and Jared Brant, the opening chef of Satchel's on 6th, who abruptly gave his notice there just under two weeks ago.
"Yeah, that's my staff, and I'm really stoked about it," says Brunson, who's got a full month ahead of time before Wild Catch, Colorado's first Marine Stewardship Council-certified restaurant, opens on August 24. "First I'm getting married, and I'm even catering my own wedding, plus I'm doing my own brand of bacon now, and then I've got a restaurant to open, which will be as sustainable as it can possibly be," he adds, noting that Wild Catch will be periodically audited by the Council to ensure that the fish and seafood it's selling conforms to sustainability requirements.
And about that bacon...Brunson, who's now the proud proprietor behind his own bacon label -- Denver Bacon Company -- is using heritage-breed Hampshire pigs from Iowa to create both a maple, dry-cured bacon and a rosemary bacon. "They're awesome," he insists, and both bacons will be available at Masterpiece Deli, Marczyk Fine Foods and the Truffle. "There's a lot more to come," he reveals, "but first I've go to get married and open a restaurant."