Chef’s Morsels: Behind the Scenes with Aspen’s Top Chefs |

Chef’s Morsels: Behind the Scenes with Aspen’s Top Chefs

Mario Hernandez: Jimmy’s Bodega

Three kitchen staples: A good knife, salt, garlic

Favorite indulgences: French fries

Cuisine you wish you could master: This is very hard for me to answer. I respect all the cuisines of the world. If I had to pick one, it would be Chinese cuisine. It’s one of the oldest countries in the world.

Adult beverage of choice: Bodega Margarita, rocks and salt

Can’t get enough: Ceviche

Winter warmer: Homemade soup — classic chicken noodle or potato soup

Food you daydream about: I don’t dream too much about food … I’m a chef! I cook whatever I want.

Best cooking music: Andres Segovia

Food trend you wish would go away: There really isn’t one that I can think of … I enjoy learning new techniques all the time — even if they are annoyingly trendy.

Chef you’d like to cook with: Francis Mallmann

I miss mom or dad’s: Pollo Adobado; it’s a homemade soup that my mother would make every week.

Wish I had easy access to:  Worldwide travel so that I could fully experience the different cultures and techniques in person.

Sweat treat: A classic chocolate-chip cookie

Favorite Colorado ingredient: Wild mushrooms — I feel as though you can do anything with beautiful Colorado mushrooms.


Greg Van Wagner: Wine director, Jimmy’s

Three kitchen staples: Japanese knives, cast iron pan, and plenty of small towels so you can reuse them instead of using paper towels to clean up.

Favorite indulgences: If there are any hard aged cheeses around me then they won’t last long!

Cuisine you wish you could master: Tamagoyaki. I got to witness this omelet making technique in Japan and it’s beautiful. Breakfast would never be the same.

Adult beverage of choice: Wine, of course! Spanish reds, white Burgundy, and Manzanilla Sherry are always stocked in my house.

Can’t get enough: High-quality, reasonably priced red or white Burgundy.

Winter warmer: I go for the Rhone Valley of France, wines from areas such as Cornas, Cote Rotie, Hermitage.

Food you daydream about: The grilled quail at A Fuego Negro in San Sebastian; Kalamata olives if I can’t have that.

Best cooking music: Phantogram, Buena Vista Social Club, Polo and Pan

Food trend you wish would go away: Hipster plating. Situations like using Mason jars for anything and everything, random wood boards, and clothespins holding food or garnishes.

Chef you’d like to cook with: Thomas Keller, no question a model of discipline and hard work over decades of time.

I miss mom or dad’s: Corn on the cob from our family garden.

Wish I had easy access to: Aged wines that are readily available and reasonable in Europe but eye-wateringly expensive in the States.

Sweat treat: Gelato

Favorite Colorado ingredient: Palisade peaches

Troy Selby: 520 Grill

Three kitchen staples: Kosher salt, good olive oil, fresh herbs

Favorite indulgences: Sushi

Cuisine you wish you could master: Japanese cooking

Adult beverage of choice: O’Doul’s n/a beer

Can’t get enough: Mountain biking

Winter warmer: A trip to the beach

Food you daydream about: Our new house-smoked beef brisket coming soon

Best cooking music: Cooking music reggae

Food trend you wish would go away: Truffle oil French fries

Chef you’d like to cook with: Rick Bayless

I miss mom or dad’s: Mom’s pumpkin bread

Wish I had easy access to: Fresh Colorado elk

Sweat treat: Root beer float

Favorite Colorado ingredient: Colorado organic Angus beef


Rob Ittner: Cooking School of Aspen

Three kitchen ingredient staples: What’s fresh and in season

Favorite indulgences: Getting to see world-class chefs from around the globe up close at the Cooking School of Aspen

Cuisine you wish you could master: It’s about diversity and the journey — not just one food.

Adult beverage of choice: Wine

Food you daydream about: Truffle omelet

Best cooking music: Depends on the food

Chef you’d like to cook with: Alice Waters

Wish I had easy access to: Year-round fresh vegetables in backyard

Sweet treat: Chocolate soufflé

Favorite Colorado ingredient: Lamb


Vincent Bagford: Bamboo Bear

Three kitchen staples: Desire, respect and love

Favorite indulgence: So many. Here is one: a full slab dinner, salad with house dressing, baked potato and roll at Old Hickory Bar-B-Q in Dayton, Ohio, followed up with a milkshake.

Cuisine you wish you could master: I will always be a student of food and technique and never a master of a cuisine.

Adult beverage of choice: Charleston “docktail” — Bourbon, ginger, squeeze of lime and the salt of the coastal breeze.

Dish you could make in your sleep: Red sauce and pasta.

Can’t get enough: Travel time!

Winter warmer: My wife’s pork belly braised in coconut water, with rice.

Food you daydream about:Live, coal-roasted, whole suckling pig at Lang Nuong Nam Bo in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Best cooking music: Depends on the task. Waylon Jennings/outlaw country or any live Grateful Dead show for prep; pre-service is Rolling Stones live; and for those long, tedious prep items, classical music.

Food trend you wish would go away: ‘You must meet my special dietary needs cuisine’ — this trend got to go!

Chef you’d like to cook with: Marco Pierre White

I miss mom or dad’s: I miss my dad’s breakfast, and anything my mom cooks I miss.

Wish I had easy access to: Asian market

Sweet treat: Peanut butter chocolate homemade Buckeyes

Favorite Colorado ingredient: Clean water


Robbie Kostrba: Rustique Bistro

Three kitchen staples: Salt, pepper, onions

Favorite indulgences: Good bourbon and cigars

Cuisine you wish you could master: Thai

Adult beverage of choice: Old-school Martinez

Can’t get enough: Hours in a day!

Winter warmer: Constant Comment tea spiked with bourbon

Food you daydream about: In-N-Out Double-Double Animal Style, Animal Fries, strawberry shake

Best cooking music: James Brown

Food trend you wish would go away: Foam

Chef you’d like to cook with: Julia Child

I miss: Mom’s hugs and Dad’s elk meat in the freezer

Wish I had easy access to: A beach and fresh coconuts

Sweet treat: Rum cake

Favorite Colorado ingredient: Love and Palisade peaches


Chris Keating: Pinecreek Cookhouse

Three kitchen staples: Butter, salt and pepper

Favorite indulgences: Seafood, life and my wife

Cuisine you wish you could master: Anything pastry

Adult beverage of choice: About four times a year I pride myself with my ability to make the most amazing Martini … home use only and I can’t seem to get past two.

Can’t get enough: Of my motorcycle and bicycle

Winter warmer: Take it as it comes and make the best of everyday.

Food you daydream about: Smoked black cod

Best cooking music: I find the sounds of the kitchen and the food cooking is music to my ears … everything else is a distraction.

Food trend you wish would go away: Sous Vide

Chef you’d like to cook with: Chris Lanter … again.

I miss mom or dad’s: I miss Dad and see my Mom as much as I can

Wish I had easy access to: Time off

Sweat treat: Hot waffle ice cream sandwich

Favorite Colorado ingredient: Everything the Colorado farmers raise and grow! They really have stepped up locally sourced game, the customers want more of it, chefs love to cook it … the program is working!

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