January 3, 2014

Taking a look back and forward at the Boulder culinary sceneFor residents of the Boulder, Colo., area, 2013 was yet another exciting year on the regional culinary scene. From new restaurants to people in the dining world coming together after the September floods to the continued burgeoning of the Boulder beer scene, there was plenty for locals to be excited about over the past year.

With 2014 upon us and much to look forward to in this new year, there was still a lot to look back on with joy and relish in 2013. Here are just a few of the highlights in the Boulder dining world from the past 12 months, as well as one important development to look forward to in the new year:

Fast-casual dining
With much of the country, including Boulder, still getting back on its feet economically, it’s not a surprise that one of the biggest trends in dining was the more laid-back, less expensive casual eatery. Still, many of the chefs behind these outlets managed to incorporate the healthy, sustainable techniques that have made Boulder such an important part of the American culinary scene in recent years.

Fast food done right
Yellowbelly, a Vail-based chain of “fast food” eateries, aims to take that often derided cuisine and give it the sustainable, farm-to-table spin that so many other types of cooking have gotten over the past few years. Chicken is the order of the day at Yellowbelly, but it’s far from the “pink slime” that so many diners became horrified by when word of its existence became widely known early in 2013. Yellowbelly uses white meat chicken, yet still manages to sell most of its products for less than $10.

Beard award winner
The James Beard awards, which are among the most cherished honors in the culinary world, came to the Boulder area this year. Jennifer Jasinski, the chef-owner at Rioja, won the honor for Best Chef Southwest, further adding to the list of accomplishments by Colorado chefs.

Shining a light on Colorado chefs in 2014
The historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park – which may be best known for its role as the setting of the 1980 movie “The Shining” – will be hosting a chefs in residence program known as Great Roads to Great Chefs over the course of 15 weeks in 2014.

The series will bring together some of the best chefs in the country, many of whom will be from Colorado, to show off their creations and develop their culinary skills. Anyone who in interested in taking, or has graduated from, a Boulder cooking program will be sure to want to keep an eye on this new series in the coming year.