=" /> The Mile High Eater: 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chef Jason Shaeffer of Chimney park talk and recipe

Hi all

This week we have a talk with chef Shaeffer of Chimney park and a recipe he shared with us.

Jason Shaeffer

Chef Shaeffer

1. What attracted you to cooking?

At a young age I was taught simple things like how to scramble eggs, make grilled cheese sandwiches and assist with the prepping of the food my family would prepare. This preparation included; gathering eggs from our chickens, attending the garden by watering, weeding, picking of vegetables and fruits.

2. What is the philosophy behind your cooking, or in your kitchen?
Most of the time, simply let the ingredients do their job. When the best quality ingredient is sourced and brought into the back door – respect the integrity of it.

3. What is the biggest influence on the way you cook?
Season and weather – which drives product availability. We’ve had a run of warm weather here in Northern Colorado for November – we really haven’t gotten into heavy braised items yet…running lighter fish specials.

4. Is there a chef living today you would like to work with?
Wolfgang Puck because I would pick his brain of how he transformed from a talented young chef in LA to a globally successful businessman.

5. Is there a particular ingredient you like to cook with more than others?
One in particular, no but as a whole – garden fresh vegetables due to how I grew up raising them in Virginia.

6. If stuck on a desert isle and could have one meal from then on out what would it be?
Simple pasta with asparagus (or green beans) with garlic, olive oil, lemon, Parmesan and pine nuts.

7. Is someone asked you for two Colorado restaurants to try other than your own what would you suggest?
Well, I really haven’t been out much since living here! Undoubtedly, Frasca in Boulder rivals any “big city” restaurant. Had a very good experience at Juniper in Edwards.

8. How about one restaurant any where in the world?
El Bulli

9. Would you be willing to share a recipe with us?


1. How was it working at Per Se?

Working at per se was the most intense and rewarding experience I have encountered. It was a constant pursuit of perfection every night, every guest, every dish. Thomas and Jonathan are, by far, are two very driven chefs who do not compromise quality or integrity on a single item within the restaurant…down to the hand soap in the employee restroom!

2. How did you end up coming to Colorado?

Kind of both happening at once – I found Chimney Park and it found me!

Chef Shaeffer was also kind enough to share a recipe with us

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Hazel Dell Mushrooms
Serves 8

1-2 butternut squash, weighing about two pounds
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb. fresh assorted Hazel Dell mushrooms
1/2 bunch fresh basil, slice thinly
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450º F.
Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Place flesh-side down onto an oiled baking sheet and roast until easily pierced with a knife, remove from oven and let cool.
Peel and thinly slice the onion and garlic cloves, toss with olive oil and roast in oven for 10-15 minutes or until softened, Scoop out the inside of the squash and pass through a food mill.
Combine the squash puree and roasted onion/garlic mixture in a soup pot. Add the stock and bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer for about an hour.
Season with salt, black pepper.
Slice the mushrooms, sauté over medium-high heat until soft, add to the soup just before serving along with the basil.
Divide among eight heated soup bowls and serve.

As always thanks for stopping by our Colorado food blog and if have any questions or comments feel free to ask them here or email us at jonathan or barb at milehigheater.com

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Wow... Chimney Park

Hi all

We went out to eat in Windsor the other night at the Chimney Park (http://www.chimneypark.com/). I have to say when a reader of the blog suggested I try a spot in Windsor; I did not think I would make it. I normally just don’t travel up that way very often but then I looked at the website and the menu and went hmm that looks good, and then I went to the spot where it talks about the chef and I was hooked. Chef Jason Shaeffer, was a opening sous chef at Per Se for two years. For those of you who don’t know, Per Se is Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant in NYC and frequently regarded as one of the best restaurants in the country. We went to Per Se in May while we visited New York (see earlier blogs). With this information in hand, I went ahead and made reservations for us at Chimney Park with high expectations.

The restaurant is very easy to find. Just get off at the Windsor exit off I-25 and head east. It will be on the left hand side of the road about 4 miles down with very easy parking in front of the restaurant. The building the restaurant is in has been around since the 1800’s and the dining room is very pleasant to look at and to sit in and does not at any moment feel cramped. The restaurant offers a tasting menu and we tried that so we could get a range of items from the kitchen. The tasting menu is 4 courses and one thing that is different from a lot of places each person in your party receives a different item. Instead of everyone getting the same course, we each received something different, and thus, had to share! And very few of the items you receive on the tasting menu are items that are on the menu. Jason just makes you items on the spot. Chef Shaeffer is very willing to work with food preferences and is even happy to make a vegetarian menu which we did not try, but probably will next time as the vegetarian menu at Per Se was fantastic and I would like to see what he learned from there.

The first item out was the amuse bouche and the only item that we all received


He said: A great start. The cheese on the apple was just a great blend of sharp and sweet that just made you even hungrier than you were when you ate it. The “”” mirrored the apple and cheese with a nice sweet taste and a crisp crunch of the bread. This was very good start and I will give it a 7.

She said: This was a fantastic start to a great meal. The apple and cheese were crunchy and sweet. I would give it a 8.

Now, on to the first course
Barb had:

Gnudi with Hazel Dell Mushrooms, Black Truffles and Parmesan.

He said: I am afraid it's here all ready - YUMMMMMMMMMMMM! I love mushroom’s and this smelled fantastic even from across the table. I was hard pressed not to grab Barb's plate and gobble it all up. This had a great mushroom flavor offset by the rich gnudi. I wonder if I asked next time if he would do 4 courses of this. I have to give this a 10.

She said: I agree, YUM!I looked up gnudi and this is what one website said: The Italian term for "nude," these tender little dumplings are a cousin of gnocchi. Made with ricotta rather than potato". I like these better than gnocchi even. The mushroom and sauce made this a wonderful dish (even if I had to share it). I give it a 9.

Elena’s first Course.

Yellowtail Tuna

Honey-Lime Cured Yellowtail, Avocado Mousse, Jicama and Radish, Jalapeno Jelly

He said: When you tried it without the jelly it had a very pleasant lemon flavor which I liked a lot. It always surprises me when I like any raw fish. Something inside me just screams in protest about it, but so far have liked everything I have tried. I think a Sushi bar will soon be in my future. With my second bite I took a big dab of the Jalapeño Jelly (I am silly sometimes) and for a brief instant I did not realize what I had done as the initial sweet flavor started to wash over my tongue....then it came - HOT HOT, ouch, oww, WATER!! After I got done drinking and my companions got done smirking, I decided it really was a good dish and gave it a 7.

She Said: For some reason I wasn't feeling the love of raw fish that night and didn't try this at all. Maybe we should get Elena's opinion on this one!
Elena Piped-in: Fortunately, I love sushi and this was a wonderful mix of flavors. The tuna was very fresh and, if I recall correctly, nicely seared. When mixed with the other items on the dish, the textures and flavors melded surprisingly well…I was ready for the jalapeno jelly to take over; but, when strategically appied, it added a sweet zippiness to the dish. I’d give it an 8.

Jonathan’s First course.

Seared sea scallop

Seared Sea Scallop with Butternut Squash Puree and a ‘Stir Fry” of Boc Choy with a Soy Vinaigrette.

He said: On most occasions I can take or leave a scallop, mostly leave them and so was not that excited when this was laid out in front of me, especially with Barb's Gnudi staring at me from across the table. After assuring myself that jedi mind tricks were not going to make Barb switch plates with me, I dove in. I can’t believe I am saying this about of all things scallop, but Yum, and Wow. Cooked just perfectly and with the flavors of the butternut and soy vinaigrette mixed in, I was in love. Ten, I say yes, a 10 for a scallop. How strange.

She said: For those of you familiar with our blog, you know that I have an allergy to scallops, so again I didn't taste this dish. Elena - please step in with your comments:
Again, Elena Piped-in: I’m realizing that I was invited along in case seafood was a significant part of the menu. The scallop was perfectly cooked – tender and not at all flaky. And with boc choy? YUM! Ditto to that 10.

Barb's second course

Beat and Pear sald

Roasted Beet and Comice Pear Salad, Blue Cheese, Pecans and Arugula, Apple Cider-Black Pepper Gastrique

He said: Nice combination of flavors once again the sweet pear with the sharp blue cheese. The surprise for me at least was how well the beets went with this, just an all around good tasting dish. A 6 from me.

She Said: This was nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. The beets and pears mixed well together, but the gastrique was the winner of the dish for me. I would give it a 7.

Elana’s second course:

Chard and buttenut squash salad

Chard Stem and Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette, Chestnuts, Pomegranate and House Cured Duck Prosciutto.

He said: This was a very nice looking dish and over all the presentation of each and every dish was fantastic. And, what is even better is most dishes tasted as good as they looked! A maple vinaigrette, wow, that was tasty and the duck was great as well. Wasn’t a huge fan of the chestnuts but I really dug this dish overall and will give it a 7.

She said: This was a nice dish. All of the textures mixed well together. And you know I like duck! I agree with Jonathan in that the chestnuts didn't do it for me either. I will agree with his score of 7 and agree that the plating on all our dishes was fantastic!

Jonathan’s second course:
Caesar Salad

Romaine Caesar with Grilled Bread Piquillo Peppers and White Anchovies

He said: The name pretty much says it, and as a Caesar salad it was fine and I liked the peppers but the salty anchovies, meh not so much. Looking at the entire night I would say this was the low point of the meal. It was not bad, but wasn’t anything special really. I give it a 5.

She said: Anchovies? Ok, I've been brave in all lately, but did not try this (I still have some growing to do in my palate...I know).

Barbara's Main Course;

Bison New York Strip

Bison New York Strip, Basil Potatoes, Oven Dried Tomatoes and Green Beans and a Black Olive Sauce.

He said: Huge portion for a tasting menu and cooked perfectly. The basil potatoes were much better than I expected, in fact I would call them great. And even the olive sauce heightened the taste. I would go an 8 for this.

She Said: The meat was juicy and tender and delicious. I didn't want to share this, but I did. Overall, a great dish and truly enjoyed. I would give it a 8.5.

Elena's main course:

Cab filet of rib

Cab Filet of Rib, Goat cheese Polenta, Artichokes and Spinach Tomato Au Jus.

He said: Once again a very large portion for a tasting menu and once again cooked perfectly! I loved the polenta and the filet was amazingly tender. Honestly the artichokes and spinach didn’t do much for me but the meat just melted in your mouth. I have to give this another 8.

She said: I agree with Jonathan, the meat was delicious and melt worthy. I stuggle with too tough of meat, and did not have that problem at all here. The artichokes were nicely cooked as well. I too, would give it an 8.

Jonathan's Main Course.

Duck 2 ways

Duck 2 ways - Duck Breast and Thigh Comfit, Braised Radish and Pearl Onions with Pancetta, served with an Apple Ginger Sauce

He Said: Main courses - 3 for 3. All just fantastic. The crispy skin and tender meat of the comfit and the tender moist meat of the breast. I am a huge onion guy and those onions were devoured quickly. The mixture of tastes here was perfect. The apple ginger sauce blended perfectly in and this was a thoroughly enjoyed dish. Another 8.

She Said: Yummy, duck! I'm surprised Jonathan shared this with me, but he did. I enjoyed the crispy and tender meat just as much, and the onions and radish blended in nicely with the tastes and textures. I would also give this an 8.

Barb's Dessert:

"Pastel de Tres Leches"

Pastel de Tres Leches, Cream Soaked Vanilla Cake with Ripe Mango and Rum Caramel Sauce

He Said: Served warm, the nice rich caramel flavor combined with the mango was really good. I will give it a 6

She Said: I do love caramel, and wasn't sure about the mango, but the combination was good. I kept thinking I was done, but found myself sneaking in another spoonful or two. I would give this a 7.5.

Elena's Dessert:

Carrot cake

Ginger-Almond Carrot Cake, Toasted Almonds and Mascarpone Icing

He said: Another good tasting dessert and I like the icing, however there was a problem with this. As you can see, the dessert is 2 tiered and I am guessing they store the individual cakes wrapped in plastic wrap and put them together right before being served. I say this, because there was a small bit of plastic wrap in between the two cakes. Elena saw it before it made it into her mouth and it did not effect the taste of the item, but after how good the entire meal had been it was a big letdown and took down the overall feeling of the evening. I will give it a 6 but will have to deduct from the over allscore for this.

She said: Another great dessert and except for the mishap well done. I liked the nuts and the cake blended in together, although wasn't a huge fan of the carrot's on top. I would give this a 6.5.

Jonathan's Dessert:


Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding, Butterscotch Anglaise and Macadamia Nut Brittle
and Pomegranate seeds

He Said: This was served warm and was very rich. The pomegranate seeds just drove it up another level with that fresh sweet flavor mixed in with the deep rich chocolate. Yum, I would go ahead and give this a 7

She Said: This was a good dish. We had chocolate bread pudding somewhere else and I didn't like it as much as I liked this one. Rich, chocolately, nutty - where could you go wrong? I would give it a 7.5.

Wow this was just a great overall dining experience. For those of you have visited often you know we love a tasting menu and one where everyone gets different items is just fantastic. The over all score is 7.95. This includes a .75 jump for the 5 course or better tasting a .1 bump for the fact everyone gets a different item each course and a -.5 drop for the plastic wrap incident.

I know Windsor is a bit out of the way but you really need to go try out this chefs terrific restaurant. Happy new year to everyone and thanks for coming back to our colorado food blog.! As always if have questions or comments feel free to email us at jonathan or barb @milehigheater.com

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