Q&A: Inside the Colorado FIVE

Formerly the Denver FIVE, the Colorado FIVE, newly renamed for this year to reflect the sheer quality of F&B professionals that can now be found all over the state, are a group of some of the finest chefs in the state. Factor in the three-person beverage team and you basically have the Avengers of the Colorado F&B scene.



Started in 2008 as a way to spotlight Denver’s culinary scene, the Colorado FIVE host innovative dinners around the state and make appearances at food festivals and fundraisers representing the Centennial State. The group has also been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City every year since its inception.


With a nod to James Lipton, Bernard Pivot and Marcel Proust, we had a chat with each of the members of the squad and asked them about everything from seasonal produce to their favorite superhero.



Jayme Henderson

One third of the Colorado FIVE beverage team, Henderson is the co-founder of The Storm Cellar, a winery based in Hotchkiss, and the creator of the acclaimed blog, holly & flora. Hollyandflora.com.


What quality do you most admire in people?

A strong work ethic and a respect of others’ time top my list.


What’s your favorite cocktail?

When I’m out, I order The Last Word. I love its complexity, and Chartreuse is pretty much LIFE.


Who is your hero or heroine?

Amelie, the character from the eponymous film. She sees life so beautifully and revels in simplicity.


Favorite autumn activity in Colorado.

Fall is harvest season here at the vineyard, so sleeping is my favorite activity! Joking aside, I love finding hidden pockets of aspens, going to pumpkin patches, canning peaches, and hiking in the cooler weather.


Favorite super hero.

Definitely Jessica Jones, Wonder Woman, and Cat Woman. I can’t pick just one. Jones takes no bullshit and shares my love of whiskey, Wonder Woman fights for justice and equality, and Cat Woman is such a solid mash-up of confidence, shrewdness, and power.



Jim Pittenger

From repossessing cars in Alaska to slinging wieners on a Denver street corner, Biker Jim is now delighting diners with innovative takes on the tube steak. bikerjimsdogs.com.


What is your favorite meat?

Caribou is right up there. Depending on the cut, a simple seasoning with salt, pepper maybe some fresh tarragon, thyme and olive oil, and either pan seared and finished in a hot oven or on a hot grill. It can be a bit toothy but man, is it full of flavor.


What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Cross country travel on a motorcycle, it’s meditation with speed!


Who is your favorite musician?

Way too many. Carlos Santana, Mick Box, Michael Hedges, Randy Bachman, Jimmy Page…you might notice I tend to like guitarists.


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I am going to be a writer! I can write, but until I do that every day, I’ll be a restaurant guy…then I will be a writer.


Who is you favorite superhero?

Certainly not the guy with the bow and arrow. Next thing you know, they’ll bring out a tether-ball champ in spandex to knock the evildoers of the galaxy down from behind.



Josh Niernberg

Niernberg’s restaurant Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction is “a think tank for food as applied to industrial design.” A certified sommelier and fourth-generation Colorado native, the menu at Bin 707 Foodbar is packed with local and regional ingredients. Bin707.com


What’s your favorite ingredient?

I don’t have a favorite single ingredient. My lens focuses on local and regional cuisine. So, anything I’m able to use to turn into a dish, I love. Today I’m excited about heirloom peppers, sumac, and badger flame beets.


What’s your favorite thing about living in Colorado?

As a fourth generation native who has lived all over the state, I would have to say access to the outdoors and availability of incredible and unique native ingredients.


What’s your favorite possession?

Skateboard


What is your favorite curse word?

Sonofagotdamnnedmotherpicken’


Who is you favorite superhero?

Alice Waters



Jen Mattioni

Another third of the FIVE beverage team, Mattioni is the co-owner and beverage manager of Q House in Denver. An active member of the Colorado Bartenders Guild, she presently serves as membership coordinator on the Guild’s board of directors. Qhousedenver.com


What’s your favorite Colorado wine?

The Storm Cellar is making unbelievable wine and I am currently obsessed with their off-dry riesling. We just put it on the menu at Q House and it crushes out on the patio with Szechuan peppercorn heavy dishes.


If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Brown or Clear?


Who is your favorite character from literature?

Lorrie Moore is one of my all time favorite authors, so I’d say almost any character she creates. Or Molly from Neuromancer.


Which cocktail, drink or drinking tradition would you like to revive from obscurity?

I don’t know if it’s obscure, per se, but I’d love to see more people drinking out of porrons! So fun and communal


Who is your favorite superhero?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer!



Steve Steese

The third member of the beverage team, Steese is the other co-founder of The Storm Cellar. He was selected two years in a row as one of fifteen international “Sommelier Stars” to host the Sonoma County Wine Weekend. StormCellarWine.com


What’s the best wine you’ve ever had?

Jayme and I were gifted a bottle of ‘89 Lynch Bages from some friends when we passed our certified sommelier test in 2007. That may be the most memorable wine experience I’ve ever had.


If you were reincarnated, who would you like to be?

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe a great musician or famous comedian.


What do you do to “zen out”

I was a club DJ for many years and played under the name Big Zen, so it seems obvious that music is the answer for me.


What’s your favorite autumn hike in Colorado?

Lost Creek Wilderness may be tops for me in the fall, but I’m excited to spend more time exploring the Western Slope, which is still very new to me.


Who is your favorite superhero?

William H. Macy’s character “The Shoveler” from the movie Mystery Men because I basically dug a thousand holes by hand in preparation for new vine plantings.



Bryan Jay Redniss

The New York native made his way to Colorado to pursue his dream of snowboarding and did just that for fifteen years, competing and making snowboarding films. He eventually ended up opening The Rose, a cocktail-focused bar, bakery and bistro in Edwards that focuses on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients with recipe inspirations from all over the world. TheRoseEdwards.com.


What’s your favorite dish to eat on a chilly autumn day?

Ice cream, pizza and tacos with side of fried chicken. Todo dias.


What is the best or most interesting country you’ve ever visited?

Not sure I have been there yet. They all seem to be pretty amazing. I’ll answer this question in a couple of years


What profession would you not like to do?

Telemarketer or run a diaper service... seems like a lot of other people’s piss and shit you're dealing with.


What’s a good motto to live life by?

Shoot the moon.


Who is your favorite superhero?

Howard the Duck



Duane Walker

With aspirations of becoming a professional snowboarder, Walker cooked in restaurants in Breckenridge to support himself. He eventually fell in love with food and decided to pursue his new passion. He recently became the executive sous chef at Morin in Denver.


What’s the most underrated seafood?

Geoduck. It’s an acquired taste.


Who would you like to see on a new banknote?

Barack Obama


What quality do you value most in your friends?

Loyalty


What’s your favorite world cuisine?

I don’t have a favorite of anything to be honest. But if I had to say to pick one, I would say Latin / Hispanic / Mexican. I like working with moles because you can build flavor on top of flavor. It’s a lot more challenging than people give it credit it for.


Who is you favorite superhero?

Thats a tough one. I like Aquaman because he gets a bad rap. Nobody likes him or at least didn’t before the recent film.

I also like Batman because he’s just a man with no superpowers.



Kevin Grossi

Chef and owner of The Regional in Fort Collins, Grossi worked in Boston, San Diego, Vail and Denver before moving north. TheRegionalFood.com


What’s your go to autumn comfort food?

I would say I’m a turkey pot pie kind of guy. Anything pie. I’m all about. Chicken pot pie, any bird will do. Pumpkin pie, too, those are always awesome.


What’s your favorite thing about Colorado?

The weather and the recreation.


What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Spending time with my wife and my daughter. If not that, fishing.


What is your favorite song?

I’m a huge Trampled by Turtles fan, so Victory by them


Who is your favorite superhero?

Spiderman. He’s very supportive when it comes to other Avengers and I play a very supportive role.


Kevin also offered his thoughts on which superhero he thinks best suits the rest of the team members:

Jen - Deadpool

Duane - Hulk

Jim - Thor

Bryan - Antman

Josh - Captain America

Steve - Hawkeye

Jaime - Black Widow

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