"I'm sad about it," the chef says. "I love this restaurant, and I'm proud of what we've done since we opened. But it's just time to do something different."
Rowell has been part of Colt & Gray since meeting chef/owner Nelson Perkins in culinary school, when the two began drawing up plans to open a Denver restaurant. After graduation, the chef joined Perkins and his wife in the Mile High City to make the dream a reality, opening the doors to the Platte Street spot in August of 2009. An alum of the Spotted Pig in New York, Rowell is behind menu items like the crispy pig's trotters; he's also helped train the cadre of chefs that man the line in the kitchen. And while none of those chefs will officially replace Rowell (Colt & Gray will no longer have a chef de cuisine role), one of them, Jenna Hodges, will move into the executive sous chef spot and take over many of his duties.
But while Rowell is very sad to say goodbye to the restaurant he helped build, he's certain that this is the right time to head back to the East Coast for more rigorous training. "I'm looking at what I want to do in three to five years and how I'm going to get there," says Rowell. "And I want to get really solid in my technique."
As for exactly where he'll end up, the chef isn't completely sure yet, but he's exploring several possibilities. "I'm heading home to Buffalo for a week or two, and I'll talk to people in New York City then," he says.
Rowell is hoping that his career move will help him progress toward opening his own spot in a couple of years. Maybe even in Denver: "I'll maintain my partnership stake in Colt & Gray," he notes. "There's a chance I'll be back someday."