The Iron Skillet Medal of Honor goes to chef Michael Long's sauté crew at Opus, for conspicuous and sustained gallantry in the face of a chef who's been known to change his menu by phone from the golf course just a few hours before the start of service. Granted, Long's particular brand of ironic culinary artistry is a welcome addition to Denver's high-end restaurant scene, and we're supposed to forgive the quirks that come along with such creativity. But, Chef, we think you owe the fellas a drink.


Opus
The Iron Skillet Medal of Honor goes to chef Michael Long's sauté crew at Opus, for conspicuous and sustained gallantry in the face of a chef who's been known to change his menu by phone from the golf course just a few hours before the start of service. Granted, Long's particular brand of ironic culinary artistry is a welcome addition to Denver's high-end restaurant scene, and we're supposed to forgive the quirks that come along with such creativity. But, Chef, we think you owe the fellas a drink.
Fried cheese, fried onion rings, fried pickles. No matter how good something is in its natural state, it can only be improved by a dunk in the fryer. And it's for his unfailing dedication to this simple fact that we award Dick Lande -- a 25-year veteran of the kitchen at 2052 Stout Street, now home of the Stout Pub -- the Gold Fryolator Lifetime Achievement Award.


Fried cheese, fried onion rings, fried pickles. No matter how good something is in its natural state, it can only be improved by a dunk in the fryer. And it's for his unfailing dedication to this simple fact that we award Dick Lande -- a 25-year veteran of the kitchen at 2052 Stout Street, now home of the Stout Pub -- the Gold Fryolator Lifetime Achievement Award.
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.

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