On the Western frontier, fur traders would rendezvous to barter goods and share ideas. Chef Kurt Boucher is now working to create a similar gathering place at the Rendezvous Cafe at the History Colorado Center, one that focuses on homegrown goods. "Basically we're Colorado-based," Boucher says of the restaurant, "so we use as much local product as possible."
Boucher may be all about local today, but he's had his time in the national spotlight, too. A half-dozen years ago, he faced off against celebrity chef Bobby Flay on Iron Chef. Before coming to Colorado for a number of gigs, including a stint at Satchel's on 6th, he'd also worked as a private chef for both Diddy and William H. Macy.
But since March, he's been making culinary history for History Colorado. "Our goal is to teach people about food," he says. "That's every chef's goal."
Although the Rendezvous Cafe is run by a concession company, it doesn't look like a typical concession-run restaurant. The space, which opened along with the rest of the History Colorado Center back in April 2012, is beautiful. Natural light pours in through the giant, west-facing glass walls, and other walls feature colorful scenes of Colorado, including photos of aspen trees and a giant picture of the Crystal Mill.
The food here isn't stereotypical concession fare, either. Boucher says he's trying to change that stigma. "I think people have a one-track mind about what concession food is," he explains. "We are a concession restaurant because we're in a museum, and we're taking it to another level."
The menu includes such bar-raising items as smoked pecan chicken salad and a three-bean veggie burger. "Were trying to change the concession-type food in people's minds," he adds. "A lot of people come in here and are like, 'Wow, we've never had food like this in a museum before.'
"You get a lot of bang for your buck," Boucher continues. "There's nothing priced over $12. Everything's local, everything's fresh, so you can't really beat that price."
The café falls under the umbrella of Service System Associates and KM Concessions, a Denver-based outfit that works with zoos, aquariums and other facilities across the country, including the Denver Zoo and the National Western Stock Show. Not only does KM operate the cafe, but it doubles as a catering company; History Colorado has been the site of many private parties, and you can also rent out the cafe at night for events. According to Boucher, one of the restaurant's big clients has been the brand-new judicial building next door.
You don't need to pay admission to rendezvous at the Rendezvous Café, either. It's located just to the left of the museum's main entrance at 1200 Broadway, and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.