Seth Black, Sean Kelly's right-hand man and, in fact, the only other pair of hands in Clair de Lune's kitchen, is the hardest-working garde-manger in show business. All the salads, all the cold apps -- all those antipasti plates and plateaus de fruits de mer that come banging out of Clair's kitchen -- come straight from Seth to you. For duking it out solo in claustrophobic confines, with a menu that changes daily and a dining room that's fully committed most nights of the week, Seth is awarded the Silver China Cap Award of Excellence.
Seth Black, Sean Kelly's right-hand man and, in fact, the only other pair of hands in Clair de Lune's kitchen, is the hardest-working garde-manger in show business. All the salads, all the cold apps -- all those antipasti plates and plateaus de fruits de mer that come banging out of Clair's kitchen -- come straight from Seth to you. For duking it out solo in claustrophobic confines, with a menu that changes daily and a dining room that's fully committed most nights of the week, Seth is awarded the Silver China Cap Award of Excellence.
No need goes unmet nor any desire unfulfilled at Mizuna, where the service on the floor runs as smoothly and professionally as the business behind the line. From the minute you step through the doors of this comfortable French-Mediterranean eatery, you are folded into a complete dining experience that includes perfectly timed courses and flawless table-side service rendered by a staff that is well educated in the nuts and bolts of every menu item, and always seems delighted to see you, whether you're the first table or the last. For this, Mizuna's more-than-capable front-of-the-house crew is awarded the Gilded Corkscrew Medal of Valor.


Mizuna
Joni Schrantz
No need goes unmet nor any desire unfulfilled at Mizuna, where the service on the floor runs as smoothly and professionally as the business behind the line. From the minute you step through the doors of this comfortable French-Mediterranean eatery, you are folded into a complete dining experience that includes perfectly timed courses and flawless table-side service rendered by a staff that is well educated in the nuts and bolts of every menu item, and always seems delighted to see you, whether you're the first table or the last. For this, Mizuna's more-than-capable front-of-the-house crew is awarded the Gilded Corkscrew Medal of Valor.
Why is Sean Kelly Denver's best celebrity chef? For doing what a chef was born to do: cook. After closing Aubergine and the Biscuit, Kelly could have done just about anything. By his own admission, there were people lining up, just waiting to throw bags of money at him. But for reasons of his own, rather than taking the devil's bargain and becoming one of those pressed-chef-coat clipboard-checkers and wrangling for a spot on the Food Network, he turned back to his roots and back to doing what he loved best. So now when you come to Clair de Lune, it's Sean Kelly who's cooking your dinner -- not Sean Kelly's sous chef or Sean Kelly's line cooks. For that, this year's Gold Chef Knife goes to you, Sean.


Why is Sean Kelly Denver's best celebrity chef? For doing what a chef was born to do: cook. After closing Aubergine and the Biscuit, Kelly could have done just about anything. By his own admission, there were people lining up, just waiting to throw bags of money at him. But for reasons of his own, rather than taking the devil's bargain and becoming one of those pressed-chef-coat clipboard-checkers and wrangling for a spot on the Food Network, he turned back to his roots and back to doing what he loved best. So now when you come to Clair de Lune, it's Sean Kelly who's cooking your dinner -- not Sean Kelly's sous chef or Sean Kelly's line cooks. For that, this year's Gold Chef Knife goes to you, Sean.
The last thing Denver needed was another French-Asian fusion restaurant. But the folks behind Opal opened it anyway. The last thing Denver needed was another up-market sushi bar. But they opened it anyway. Everything about Opal -- from the original triumvirate of owners and the over-staffed (and over-starred) kitchen, to the space and the concept -- seemed like a bad idea at the time, but they opened it anyway, and now, after six months of honing its concept and culling its staff, Opal has fought its way to the top of the heap. With the kitchen firmly in the hands of executive chef Duy Pham -- whose attention to every detail has lifted his fusion cuisine to a level beyond all but its most brilliant exemplars -- and day-to-day business overseen by veteran operator Jay Chadrom, Opal has emerged as the restaurant we always hoped it would be: a brilliant, bold house unafraid of pushing the boundaries of Denver's changing tastes. The space is understated and soft, forgoing the austerity of Asian design for a more flowing, supper-club feel. The traditional sushi menu is beautiful in its pursuit of the classical ideals of balance, freshness and harmony; the full menu maintains a sense of humor and adventure without compromising the natural tastes of the best ingredients available, and the staff seems honestly in love with everything coming from the kitchen. It took some time to get it right, but the results speak for themselves: Opal stands as a shining example of where we hope Denver's fine-dining scene is headed in the years to come.
Opal Restaurant & Lounge
The last thing Denver needed was another French-Asian fusion restaurant. But the folks behind Opal opened it anyway. The last thing Denver needed was another up-market sushi bar. But they opened it anyway. Everything about Opal -- from the original triumvirate of owners and the over-staffed (and over-starred) kitchen, to the space and the concept -- seemed like a bad idea at the time, but they opened it anyway, and now, after six months of honing its concept and culling its staff, Opal has fought its way to the top of the heap. With the kitchen firmly in the hands of executive chef Duy Pham -- whose attention to every detail has lifted his fusion cuisine to a level beyond all but its most brilliant exemplars -- and day-to-day business overseen by veteran operator Jay Chadrom, Opal has emerged as the restaurant we always hoped it would be: a brilliant, bold house unafraid of pushing the boundaries of Denver's changing tastes. The space is understated and soft, forgoing the austerity of Asian design for a more flowing, supper-club feel. The traditional sushi menu is beautiful in its pursuit of the classical ideals of balance, freshness and harmony; the full menu maintains a sense of humor and adventure without compromising the natural tastes of the best ingredients available, and the staff seems honestly in love with everything coming from the kitchen. It took some time to get it right, but the results speak for themselves: Opal stands as a shining example of where we hope Denver's fine-dining scene is headed in the years to come.

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