Denver has an abundance of restaurants to take a meal and drinks. However, when on tour in the city amidst the clouds, you only want to taste the creations of the best chefs. However, there is one issue, you cannot always find them when searching online.
I had to research so much in order to short out some of the astounding chefs and their restaurants you want to visit. But if you fail to do so, there are cookbooks from some of them that may help you create the recipes in your home kitchen. Anyway, I have included three of the top chefs in Denver here with associated cookbooks for your convenience.
Jennifer Jasinski- First James Beard Award Winner for Southwest Chef
Jennifer Jasinski is not just a chef standing behind a kitchen but owns multiple restaurants within Denver. She moved to places to establish her culinary empire. Born in California, Jennifer’s first culinary training was at The Culinary Institute of America. Later she also worked under Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles. Her first workplace was a restaurant in New York City.
In Denver, she was initially the head chef of Panzano for five years. Her years of experience and skills helped her open her very first restaurant, Rioja. It is pretty popular in the city for its delicious menu and pasta.
Jennifer Jasinski has more than one eatery in Denver. After the peak success of Rioja, she opened Euclid Ball, Stoic & Genuine, Ultreia, and Bistro Vendome. Ultreia is famous for its seafood.
I recommend visiting Rioja to experience the true ability of her cooking and influence on other chefs in her restaurant.
Jennifer Jasinski was the first to win the Best Southwest Chef award from James Beard Foundation in 2013. It happened when she was working in Rioja.
Jennifer Jasinski appeared on the popular TV show Top Chef Masters.
Dana Rodriguez- Mexican Cuisine Expert and Loved by Many
Dana Rodriguez’s career is intertwined with Jennifer Jasinski. The two worked together in Panzano for a long time, and Dana became a sous chef at the place. She was born in Mexico and is an expert at Mexican cuisine, which you can enjoy at her restaurants.
Jasinski helped Dana a lot during their work together. The other who was on their team was Beth Gruitch. Recently in 2021, Casa Bonita owners Trey Parker and Matt Stone appointed her to the restaurant, and I have found out that her fans are so pleased about it.
Restaurants You Must Visit-
Dana Rodriguez has two restaurants in Denver. One is the famous Work & Class that helped her get her first James Beard Award.
Her other restaurant is the Super Mega Bien opened in 2018. I highly recommend visiting this one if you love Mexican dining. The restaurant features a dim-sum style, and its signature Turquoise Cart is not to be missed.
- Dana won the Best Chef: Southwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2015 and 2016.
- Her Super Mega Bien earned her the Best Chef: Mountain from the James Beard Foundation.
Tommy Lee- The Excellent Cook from East
For someone who was confused about whether he should take culinary as his career choice, Tommy Lee’s becoming a James Beard Award Winner proves that he took the right path. Foodies in Denver always welcome Chinese foods, and Tommy Lee works to fulfill their needs in his restaurants, Uncle and Hop Alley.
At first, he was going to and fro in his career between cooking and other jobs. However, his cooking passion sparked after his move to New York and LA in 2004. As he saw restaurants serving only one type of food yet succeeding wildly, he thought of opening his own Chinese restaurant.
Lee’s first restaurant was Uncle, a simple noodle shop. It succeeded greatly. So, he opened a second restaurant in Denver, Hop Alley, serving traditional Chinese foods like Ramen. It also specializes in other Asian cuisines like Cantonese, Hunan, Taiwanese, Sichuan, Japanese, etc.
Hop Alley is in RiNo, and its menu has a family theme.
Tommy Lee became a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Mountain Category in the James Beard Foundation in 2020.
While Tommy Lee hasn’t authored any book, I recommend the following book if you want to try your hand at classical Chinese cooking- The Essential Wok Cookbook: A Simple Chinese Cookbook for Stir-Fry, Dim Sum, and Other Restaurant Favorites.
These are my top three best chefs in Denver. But there are many other chefs from this city who deserve to be called the best. For example, Toshi Kizaki’s Sushi Den restaurant is a paradise for Japanese cuisine lovers. Meanwhile, Kelly Whitaker’s combination of Japanese and Italian food customs is another thing you must enjoy. His The Wolf’s Tailor also won the ’10 Best New Restaurant of 2019’ award from Bon Appetit.
But unfortunately, I couldn’t have enough intel about them except only the taste of their food.