Considering what lay ahead, Bertrand Bouquin, the executive chef of the Broadmoor, was incredibly relaxed. It was just hours before the swanky Colorado Springs resort and hotel pulled off -- with grace and ease -- the eleventh annual Salute to Escoffier, a monumental feast that trumpeted more than 100 dishes honoring Georges Auguste Escoffier, the legendary French chef, author and restaurateur.
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Bouquin, who took me on a personal tour through all of the Broadmoor's restaurants, has been with the resort for seven years and is only the fifth executive chef in the history of the hotel. And it's a position, he admits, that comes with privileges, including overseeing the Escoffier binging spree. "It's a really big deal," he says. "He's the daddy of French cooking, and this is the one weekend that we can go all out and express ourselves in really creative ways."
But Escoffier, he says, seeps into his brain every day. "Ever single cook and chef has a copy of his book in their offices, and we use his techniques every single day in our kitchens," he reveals. "It's all about starting from -- and perfecting -- the basics," he adds.
Still, there wasn't any "basic" about the culinary bash, which kicked off with a caviar, champagne and vodka reception, complete with ice sculptures, followed by what can only be described as decadent, diabolically lavish gluttony. The theme -- garden, land, sea and air -- showcased a whole goat (carved to order); a spectacular cheese and bread display; an ocean of fresh oysters; terrines and pâtés; a whole halibut that might be the most perfect fish I've ever had; and desserts that stretched for yards along the perimeter of the splashy ballroom.
Bouquin, who hails from Burgundy, takes it all in stride. "We do banquets and weddings -- and events that are even larger than the Escoffier dinner -- and there's no reason to get nervous," he says. "We're having fun."
And he and his culinary team of 125, are about to unveil Play, another restaurant at the Broadmoor that will also sport a bowling alley. In addition, the Golden Bee, a 19th century English Pub that's been an iconic gathering place on the Broadmoor property for decades, is undergoing a massive remodel that will also boast a rooftop beer garden.
"It's time to beef up the restaurants here -- and add new ones," says Bouquin. "It's my food and my reputation that are on the line, and I want to bring the culinary department to the next level. I want the Broadmoor to be a great gastronomic destination."
If the Salute to Escoffier dinner is any indication, he'll get his wish.
For more photos of the culinary odyssey, flip the page and then journey through our slide show.
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