Clint Wangsnes Sticks With Sous Vide, While Other Chefs Play With Fire

Not long ago it almost seemed like chefs should wear lab coats, as science held sway in the kitchen. One particularly popular technique was sous vide, a process of cooking vacuum-sealed foods in controlled-temperature water baths. Clint Wangsnes became a fan, and when he left Zengo to open Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery, the fast-casual he launched on East Colfax Avenue this summer, he decided to build his recipes around it.

See also: Clint Wangsnes, chef of Zengo, leaving to open Chop Shop

At Chop Shop, Wangsnes uses the method for everything from short ribs to French fries to onion soup, for which the onions are simmered 72 hours.

But now the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. At restaurants such as Cart-Driver, Gozo and the Nickel, chefs are returning to older techniques, drawn like moths to the open flame.

And that's not a surprise to Andy Floyd, academic director of Colorado Culinary Academy. "There's a whole movement with everyone cooking in wood-burning ovens and getting really great Maillard reactions," says Floyd, adding that chefs are looking for "primordial flavors" from the "dehydration and smoke from the wood itself."

While they may not be primordial, you find plenty of flavors at Chop Shop. Will you like them? Find out when when my review is posted here tomorrow.


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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz