After our wonderful meal at restaurant Kelly Liken, we emailed Kelly a few questions about her cooking and even though she is extremely busy these days with everything going on with Top Chef and everything else she took the time out to answer them for us and here they are below.
1. What attracted you to cooking?
The fusion of creativity and science attracted me the most to cooking. Also, there is nothing like the feeling of satisfaction in creating something with your hands, and watching someone enjoy it. It’s the best feeling in the world.
2. What is the philosophy behind your cooking, or in your kitchen?
I cook a simple, yet exciting seasonal American cuisine. I am dependant and supportive of local Colorado farmers, ranchers and artisans. This definitely lends an authenticity and element of education to my cuisine which in turn elevates it into an experience I can provide to my guests, not simply a meal.
3. What is the biggest influence on the way you cook?
Local Vegetables. I take inspiration from the bounty of the harvest. I always start a dish thinking about the produce and their flavor profiles and move into the protein later in the creative process.
4. Is there a chef living today you would like to work with?
There are many chefs living today that I would be honored to work with. Eric Ripert comes to mind, he is a seafood master and I’m sure could teach me volumes. Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park creates beautiful dishes with just a hint of molecular gastronomy. His use of modern technique is wonderfully balanced to accentuate the ingredient rather than disquise it. I would love to learn with him as well.
5. Is there a particular ingredient you like to cook with more than others?
I just like to cook. I do love seasonal produce and am inspired by it, so every season I have a new favorite ingredient!
6. If stuck on a desert isle and could have one meal from then on out what would it be?
Artichokes and Florida Stone Crab claws
7. Is someone asked you for two Colorado restaurants to try other than your own what would you suggest?
Moe’s Original BBQ – Eagle and Vail, CO
Avondale – Avon, CO (In the Westin Riverfront)
8. How about one restaurant anywhere in the world?
Maison Pic – Chef Anne Sophie Pic - Valence, France
9. We read about your involvement with the sowing seeds program, can you tell us a little bit about it and why you think it’s important?
“Sowing Seeds” is a curriculum and enrichment-based schoolyard garden program for children aged K-5 at Brush Creek Elementary School in Eagle, CO. I helped develop this program with the Vail Valley Foundation and our Director, Sandy Story that will emphasize the importance of nutrition, agriculture, and sustainability, as well as provide students with hands-on knowledge of their environment. The edible schoolyard consists of a greenhouse garden, located on the grounds of Brush Creek Elementary, close to our home. The greenhouse encompasses a variety of growing methods for teaching and learning, including a hydroponic system allowing the students to grow and harvest food year-round. Ingredients grown in the Sowing Seeds greenhouse are being integrated into the Brush Creek cafeteria menu. We are instituting a “Scratch Cooking” program at the school for lunch, and have hired a chef to cook. Kids will no longer be eating “heat and serve” nutritionally absent food in the cafeteria. Students are also saving their lunch scraps to add to the composting stations in the greenhouse.
I feel this is so important, because we are helping to take responsibility for a generation of kids who will grow up knowing where their food came from. These kids are learning the importance of health and wellness, and we are combating problems like childhood obesity. They are also learning to take responsibility for their local community and their own education. The lessons in this program are just endless. It’s so exciting to watch a whole new world open up to these kids and know that I am a part of them becoming better adults one day.
As of now Kelly is still in the running to win Top Chef so I want to add good luck Kelly. Thank you all for stopping by our Colorado based food and restaurant review and blog site. If you have any questions or just want to say hi feel free to leave a comment here or email us at jonathan or Barbara @milehigheater.com