Kyle Mendenhall spent nearly a decade helming the burners at the Kitchen, expanding the restaurant's farm-to-table mission from one dining room in Boulder to cities across the country. "And then that came to an end," he says, which sent the chef into a spiral of self-reflection. He decided to home in on what was important to him, then look for an opportunity that would allow him to check those boxes. He was in the midst of pulling together his own restaurant concept when the team at Arcana came knocking, and they eventually wooed him into accepting the executive-chef position there. Working with Arcana's desire to redefine what it means to be an American restaurant, Mendenhall organized his approach to food around heritage, seasonality, regionality, relationships and preservation. That winning combination has pushed the chef to a new creative level. Arcana's dinner menu is built around strange and underutilized local ingredients (salanova roots and leek powder), imaginative constructions (masa dumplings dressed like tamales and potatoes with cod roe) and arresting precision in execution (one of the best lamb T-bones we've ever had). The kitchen cans produce, bakes its own bread and makes pastrami in-house, and it supports local farmers by creating dishes (radish tarts, recently) out of whatever its providers have as surplus. Still, Arcana is not pretentious — it's a humble celebration of the finest ingredients Colorado offers, a down-to-earth presentation of a new way to think about food. Above all, it's a reflection of a very talented chef.