Jamey Fader met Pete Marczyk not long after the Big Red F chef opened Lola at its original home at 1469 South Pearl Street, back in 2002. Pete had opened Marczyk Fine Foods at 770 East 17th Avenue with his wife, Barbara Macfarlane, that April, and Fader remembers that Pete would show up at the back door of Lola with his brother, Paul, to deliver what soon was known as the “Pedro cut,” the first steak on Lola’s menu — but not the last, because Lola is that rare Mexican coastal seafood restaurant that has become renowned for its chicken-fried steak at brunch.
“It was some cut he pulled off a cow somewhere,” Fader recalls, and while the steak was good, what was really prime were the conversations that he and Pete got into, conversations that led to many collegial collaborations.
“It was a magical time, industry-wise,” Fader says, recalling how a group of chefs banded together to hold their first FiftyTop dinner for a crew of appreciative, adventurous diners at the Marczyk/Mcfarlane home, putting out the food even as Pete was mowing the lawn. The FiftyTop tradition was tabled after a few years and some very memorable meals, but the collaborations continued between Denver's charity-feeding chefs, and the Fader/Marczyk friendship stayed strong.
And now it’s a partnership: News broke late last week that after more than twenty years with Dave Query’s Big Red F, most recently as culinary director, a week from today Fader will take leave of that group and move over to Marczyk Fine Foods, working with Pete and Paul and Barbara as the director of culinary operations for the original store, the second market at 5100 East Colfax Avenue, and whatever the future might bring.
“Our team has been doing a great job,” notes Macfarlane, who knows a thing or two about all-star teams, since she was one of the founders of the Wynkoop Brewing Company, which marks its thirtieth anniversary this month. (She also happened to meet Pete there, but that’s a different story.) “A great job, but it could be better, yes. Jamey’s going to get in that kitchen and look at it in a whole new way. I’m really excited.”
As is Fader, who will remain a part-owner of Lola, now located at 1575 Boulder Street, and an investor in other Big Red F projects. “Lola will always be my baby,” he says. “But I feel good about where we’re leaving them, with a last-hurrah menu change on October 30.” The restaurant also has a new general manager and a chef who came over from Halcyon, and Fader hints at other exciting things in the offing.
As of November 5, though, he’ll be putting all of his culinary efforts into exciting things at Marczyk, first “just getting my feet wet in the market side of this,” he says, and working on consistency between the two kitchens. And then he’ll start exploring options for the markets.
“Pete and Paul are very eager to grow their ready-made foods program; they’re already doing the basics,” Fader says. “Now, how do we expand the program, make it chef-y, not chef-driven? We need to make great sandwiches, great salads, great soups.” And introduce more great new ideas. “I love developing programming," he continues. "There’s an opportunity for us to come up with ideas to showcase ice cream, seafood, other products. Pitching ideas like mad — it’s one of the things I love to do.”
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Macfarlane is expecting no shortage of ideas from Jamey, not “with all the menus he’s written, all the concepts he’s thought of, all the places he’s opened.”
Above all, Fader is happy to find a new work home in Denver, one that will allow him to truly “spend more time with the family, closer to home. I feel like I’ve been good to Denver, but Denver’s been exponentially great to me. I’d like to spend more time here,” he says, rather than on the road back and forth between Denver and Boulder (and beyond), overseeing Big Red F’s growing group of restaurants, including four Jax locations (with a fifth coming into Denver International Airport), as well as four Posts, Centro, West End Tavern and Zolo.
“As Big Red F grows, I’ve come to realize I’m a little homespun-y,” Fader admits. “I like a smaller group of like-minded folks, and I really see that as a plus with the Marcyzks.” And when they all sat down together to talk, the fit seemed ideal.
“Big Red F has been always my family, since I moved to Colorado,” Fader concludes. “Now to be able to go to another family, it’s great.”