Word of Mouth

Chef Shuffles at Milk & Honey, Sugarmill

Chef/restaurateur Michael Shiell's Milk & Honey has been turning heads in Larimer Square with its swanky subterranean setting and equally opulent menu. That menu reflects Shiell's vision and his collaboration with chef de cuisine Lance Barto, who signed on at Milk & Honey shortly before the restaurant's June opening. "We just clicked — Lance and I just started to build a dialogue," Shiell said of his decision to hire Barto last spring. As for menu decisions, "I have final say, obviously," Shiell said, "but he learns something, I learn something." But recently Barto decided to part ways with the restaurant, according to Shiell, who says Barto informed him that he'd be looking for front-of-house opportunities rather than jumping back into another kitchen.

Shiell's Denver resume dates back to Cherry Creek's heyday, when he ran Michael's of Cherry Creek in the 1990s before moving to New York City to help his family — owners of the legendary Rao's — launch another restaurant. Barto rose to prominence as the young executive chef of String's before it closed. After that, he helped open Central Bistro & Bar, Brazen and the Social in Castle Pines. The Social limped along for a time after his departure but eventually shuttered. The space just reopened last week as Danielle's at Castle Pines.

And over at Sugarmill, pastry chef and partner Noah French departed earlier this month. "Much thought has gone into this decision over the last couple of months. It's been an incredible and rewarding experience being an owner of Sugarmill," French said on his Facebook page. French and Sugarmill co-owner Troy Guard met when the two worked together at Roy's in New York City in 2000. French moved to Denver from a job in Barbados to become the pastry chef for TAG and to help open the dessert-centered eatery. Sugarmill veteran Kelly McGeehan will now take over the dessert program there.