Executive chef Dedric McGhee (left) and executive sous Paul Stickler make a meal at the Millennium Harvest House a stirring experience.

It's about Thyme: sampling the new chef at the Harvest House

The Millennium Harvest House is finally ready for this millennium, with executive chef Dedric McGhee and executive sous Paul Stickler now overseeing menu and food preparation at the hotel.

The 32-year-old McGhee has worked everywhere from New Mexico to North Carolina, putting in several years at Emeril's in New Orleans. He arrived at the Harvest House two months ago, and took over operations at the Harvest House's three restaurants and bars.

At a special chef's table yesterday afternoon at Thyme on the Creek, our meal featured three courses, all highlighting seasonal ingredients. For the first, Haystack Mountain goat cheese and roasted red peppers were rolled in proscuitto and phyllo dough, pan-fried and served with a bright chive oil. The second course was half a duck, with a sweet potato tamale and Swiss chard. The duck was lacquered - a classical French technique in which the duck is salted for a lengthy amount of time, rinsed off, then poached and finished in the oven. The skin was crackling crisp, and the meat succulent all the way through. The unique tamale had a distinct, sweet potato flavor that went well with the duck. Dessert was a fantastic combination of sweet and savory. A spiced plum mixture lay atop a moist walnut biscuit with a sprinkling of mint; next to it sat a spoonful of Explorateur cheese - a triple-cream brie -- with a lace of plum leather, as well as a drizzle of reduced balsamic. The Explorateur had been whipped, which gave it an airy texture I've never encountered before. My mouth was surprised. And pleased.

After a lengthy talk about plum leather for the serious food nerds at the table, McGhee expressed his vision for Thyme: He wants to focus on local ingredients, but use some of the hypermodern techniques coming into style. For example, he might serve a pork chop with an apple cider foam. He plans to change the menu with the seasons, and the winter version will be coming soon.

I can't wait.

Thyme on the Creek is open from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. seven days a week. The Harvest House is located at 1345 28th Street in Boulder; for more information, go to www.millenniumhotels.com/boulder. -- Tyler Nemkov

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