Eating Adventures

Farmers' Market Finds: Veggies With Vesta

Chef Nick Kayser of Vesta shops at the ACRES at Warren Tech farm stand.
Chef Nick Kayser of Vesta shops at the ACRES at Warren Tech farm stand. Linnea Covington
It wasn't hard to spot the tall, broad-shouldered Nick Kayser, executive chef of Vesta, as he waited by the Ela Family Farms fruit stand in the Union Station Farmers' Market (run by Boulder County Farmers' Markets) this past Saturday morning. With an iced coffee in hand, the friendly chef began by perusing the display of peaches, garnering ideas for the restaurant's menu.

click to enlarge Ela Family Farms still has peaches, but also sweet, crisp apples, plums and pears. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Ela Family Farms still has peaches, but also sweet, crisp apples, plums and pears.
Linnea Covington
"On Saturday we come down to the farmers' market to get inspiration for weekend specials," says Kayser, who orders most of his produce from local farms, including some of the staples at this farmers' market. "It's a good environment to be in, plus the farmers have a better idea about what's sustainable for a six-week stretch."

click to enlarge Kayser actually bought a whole case of chestnut mushrooms from Mile High Fungi. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Kayser actually bought a whole case of chestnut mushrooms from Mile High Fungi.
Linnea Covington
Vesta is one of many Denver restaurants dedicated to serving as much local and seasonal food as possible. And while you may find Italian truffle oil, black Hawaiian sea salt and imported balsamic vinegar gracing some dishes, the bulk of your meal will have come from Colorado. That includes the vegetables: Kayser loves to shop the farmers' market for produce and to talk to the farmers there about what he should put on the menu and the best things to pair them with.

click to enlarge Kayser says he drools over the chef's cooler at ACRES at Warren Tech's stand every week. It's where he scored delicate borage flowers, micro sorrel and cucamelons, a tiny fruit that tastes like a tart cucumber. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Kayser says he drools over the chef's cooler at ACRES at Warren Tech's stand every week. It's where he scored delicate borage flowers, micro sorrel and cucamelons, a tiny fruit that tastes like a tart cucumber.
Linnea Covington
While on this outing, he bought a small bag of peaches and then headed to get mushrooms, microgreens, radishes and cucumbers. Once the ingredients were procured, it wasn't far to Vesta's downtown kitchen (1822 Blake Street), where Kayser whipped up three market-friendly dishes that included cucumbers three ways, brûléed peaches and a beautiful cheese plate enhanced with mushrooms.

click to enlarge The finished dish, ready to make someone's dinner sweet, savory and decadent. - LINNEA COVINGTON
The finished dish, ready to make someone's dinner sweet, savory and decadent.
Linnea Covington
click to enlarge Housemade burrata with local mushrooms, edible flowers, sourdough by Grateful Bread, and truffle oil. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Housemade burrata with local mushrooms, edible flowers, sourdough by Grateful Bread, and truffle oil.
Linnea Covington
For more photos, see our complete slideshow of our visit to the Union Station Farmers Market with Nick Kayser.

And take a look back at our other produce roundups with chefs Eric Skokan of Black Cat Bistro, Kevin Grossi of the Regional and Ty Leon of Mizuna.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington