Steven Redzikowski was having lunch with his parents in Boulder when his phone beeped. "My mom and dad and I were having lunch at Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder, and then I got the text," says Redzikowski, executive chef of Acorn at the Source and Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder. The text, which came from Bryan Dayton, Redzikowski's partner in both restaurants, shouted this...in all caps: "YOU WON THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE, MOTHERFUCKER!!!! CONGRATS!!!!"
A few weeks ago, Food & Wine magazine named Redzikowski as a nominee in its annual "People's Best New Chef" competition, an award that's purely at the discretion of the public, and after "thousands" of votes, the food pub announced the regional winners earlier today -- nine to be exact -- along with the "People's Best New Chef" overall winner, namely Carl Thorne-Thomsen, chef of Story, in Kansas City.
But back to Redzikowski, who was listed among the original 100 nationwide chefs up for the award -- and the only chef in Colorado to grace the original roster. "Things like this mean a lot -- they definitely do -- but it's more like, that's nice, let's keep moving," says Redzikowski, who, perhaps more than any other celebrated local chef, stays out of the spotlight...even though he's from New York, where the lights glow long into the night.
Pushed, Redzikowski graciously accepts the accolades, but not without pointedly acknowledging that it's the community and his staff at both restaurants that have lifted him up. "Between the two restaurants, we've only been in business for two-and-a-half years, and the support from our guests has been terrific," he says. "And the Acorn and Oak teams -- they're just warriors. These guys bring their energy to the line every single night, and they're always taking a beating and yet, they just keep on going. They're awesome," he adds.
After a reflective pause, Redzikowski says, too, that "the most exciting thing is that young cooks might read about it and say, 'Hey, maybe I've seen enough of New York, and maybe I'll come to Colorado and have an opportunity to cook in Denver. Maybe it's time to make a change and see what's happening in another city with a lot of opportunity.'"
Dayton, who's always pulsating with energy (he drinks a lot of espresso), and sings Redzikowski's praises even when the chef won't, also attributes Redzikowski's recent wave of hurrahs to the staff -- and to the people who voted. "I'm so stoked for our teams at Acorn and Oak; they work incredibly hard, and it's so uplifting, exciting and truly humbling for all of them, and to everyone who made a huge push to get Steve's name out there -- you're amazing," he says. "Steve's been working so hard, and a lot of people are recognizing his talent for combining amazing food flavors and guiding both of our teams to execute extremely well on a daily basis."
In its brief description of why Redzikowski is "amazing," Food & Wine magazine, which also provides a link to Westword restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz's review of Acorn, wrote this:
Why He's Amazing: Because after starting his career at Le Cirque at age 21, he's raising the bar on the Colorado food scene with his two seasonally focused restaurants--one centered around a unique oak-fired oven and grill (Oak), the other a super-hip shared-plates spot (Acorn).
Well done, motherfucker.