Chef brings farm-to-table menu to the Edge
Farm-to-table eats have become quite the Rolls Royce of the food industry recently, especially during the summer months when fruits and vegetables grow abundantly in our neighboring farmlands, are picked from the soil and sold fresh in our local markets. And just like those of us who salivate over a juicy bite of an heirloom tomato straight from the vine and sprinkled with a touch of salt, our chefs in the area do too, as they work to structure their menus around the ingredients of the season and encourage healthy sustainability methods across the state.
James Mazzio, executive chef and brainchild behind the new release of a complete farm-to-table menu at the Edge restaurant and bar at the Timberline Condominiums, holds true to the idea of a sustainable community with three rules for all ingredients used in his kitchen: They must be raised here, grown here or bought from a Colorado company.
Treating me like a guest in his home and fixing me up a feast of caprese with grass-fed water buffalo mozzarella, noodles with chili garlic grilled chicken, cucumber, cilantro, mint and Thai basil, and organic Atlantic salmon with gingered sticky rice, summer greens and white miso broth, chef Mazzio discussed his background in cooking, the inspiration behind his flavors and the philosophies behind his success as a chef.
Snowmass Sun: Where and when did your cooking career get its start?
James Mazzio: I moved out here in 1989 and started off bussing and waiting tables at Mezzaluna in town. I remember being really intrigued by the kitchen; it drew me in, and I would often volunteer my time for free so I could learn styles and techniques. I worked under chef Charles Dale at Renaissance back in the day, and considered him a huge mentor at the time. I left in 1997 and became chef at a restaurant called 15 Degrees in Boulder. By 1999 I was named a “Best New Chef” for Food & Wine Magazine.
SS: How did the farm-to-table menu at the Edge come to be?
JM: I think we can all agree that what we put into our bodies is very important, especially when food is our main source of energy. I began the farm-to-table menu this summer because I found so many great products locally and throughout Colorado. When you find great products you believe in, you do your best to support them and hope that they maintain their values.
SS: Where does the inspiration behind your dishes come from, and what are your favorite flavor combinations?
JM: Every dish and flavor on the menu can be explained by the diversity of foods I remember tasting and eating as a kid, whether growing up on the farm or traveling to other countries. I have Sicilian and Italian roots — which is why we have some great pasta dishes on the menu — but I also really enjoy mixing in Asian and Vietnamese influences too. I have always loved the aromas of basil, onion and garlic in my cuisine, and if I could include tomatoes in all my dishes, I would do it in a heartbeat.
SS: Have you ever considered signing up for a television show like “Chopped” to demonstrate your skills? What, in your opinion, makes for a good chef?
JM: I never had a desire to tout my skills for stardom, so I would say no, at least at this point in my life. I am not too fond of the way the producers aggravate the participants in those shows just to create drama. I believe that rather than competing against one another, chefs should be bonded together in a community. I think what makes a good chef is remembering that a recipe for a dish is not the ingredients, but the person who’s behind it.
SS: Is there anything you hope to bring for the future of Edge?
JM: I am really looking forward to the fall season, where I can dive into corn, squash, apples and a handful of other nostalgic flavors. I expect to implement a vegetable Indian green curry on the menu here soon, and hope to continue to satisfy guests at the Edge with a style that is not only tasteful and fresh, but serene and simple.
If you have a local color or Snowmass business story you’d like to share, email Amanda Charles at email@example.com.
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