The restaurant business, muses Mark Fischer, exec chef of Harman's Eat & Drink, is "seriously peculiar." Chefs, he continues, "have become really high-profile, and they're granted an inordinate amount of admiration and given an inordinate amount of credit for the successes that are their restaurants, much of it completely justifiable."
But in the shadow of every great chef, he stresses, there's an unsung hero.
"Behind every good chef and every good restaurant is a really talented and hardworking chef de cuisine or sous-chef," points out Fischer, who also owns Phat Thai and Town in Carbondale and the Pullman in Glenwood Springs. It's they, he concedes, "who do most of the heavy lifting, and yet they rarely get the recognition or the props they deserve, nor the ink they've earned."
So in the spirit of giving props to the men and women -- the chefs of the future -- who, day in and day out, work their asses off in the kitchen, mostly unheralded, Fischer, along with Harman's exec chef, John Little, is rolling out an Unsung Hero Dinner series. "We thought we'd give them all a moment in the spotlight to feature their talents, skills and passions," says Fischer, noting that the dinners are "meant to be about the ones who do most of the heavy lifting at their respective restaurants."
The first of those celebratory dinners ballyhooing sous-chefs, chef de cuisines and pastry chefs, will take place on Monday, March 31 at 7 p.m. and strut the talents of Tiffany Leong (Duo); Kyle Foster (Colt & Gray); Zach Ohli (Coohills); Liz Farral (Mizuna); and Ian Mair (Harman's).
And every other month after that, another group of five sous chefs, chef de cuisines, pastry chefs, along with their ilk, will gather at Harman's to prepare five courses paired with five beverages.
"The idea is that this will be an open format for unsung local talent to throw down with like-minded people and raise money for a good cause," says Little, adding that the profits from the dinners will be donated to charity. The March dinner, he notes, will benefit Project Angel Heart.
"Mark has always been extremely unselfish and always gives praise to his staff, and I just feel like there has to be a way to help other great, young talents get their names out there, as well," adds Little. "Young chefs are putting their hearts and souls on their plates and really not making much money in the process, so to give them the opportunity to cook in their own styles and hopefully get their names out there -- that's the goal, and our wish is that it can grow to be something special in this city."
Seats to the March 31 dinner are $65, and reservations are required; call 303-388-7428 to make yours.
In the meantime, here's the menu, which highlights the almighty egg.
Amuse John Little/Harman's Beef tartare with smoked trout roe, trout chips and black garlic
First course Tiffany Leong/Duo Vodka-cured organic salmon, smoked mustard sponge cake, "everything" spice seaweed sprinkle, fennel custard and cured yolk
Second course Kyle Foster/Colt & Gray Brown butter lemon curd, turnip/radish, quail egg, nicoise, watercress and pork liver "buttarga"
Third course Zach Ohli/Coohills Poached egg, caviar, monkfish "foie gras" terrine, sea beans, buttermilk foam and brioche crumble
Fourth course Ian Mair/Harman's Pappardelle with guanciale, tarragon and sous-vide yolk
Intermezzo John Little/Harman's Egg on a stick
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Fifth course Liz Farral/Mizuna Coconut Bavarian, pineapple curd, caramel crunch and pineapple crisp