March 20, 2014

All Star Chefs To Join Headliner Mendoza

Award winning Florida Chef Nitza Mendoza, headliner for the 2014 Edesia: A Palisade Culinary, Wine & Spirits Adventure on Sunday, March 30, at Wine Country Inn, will have some highpowered support.

Joining Mendoza are Graham Mitchell, Executive Chef, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Boulder; Robert Murphy, Chef Instructor, Escoffier School, Boulder; Jesper Jonsson, Executive Chef, Randolph’s, Warwick Hotel, Denver; Theo Otte, Owner and Executive Chef, 626 on Rood, Grand Junction; Griff Chiono, Chef de Cuisine, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction, and Marcelo Marino, Executive Chef, Wine Country Inn, Palisade. Marino says the guest chefs will be cooking with Mendoza for the new VIP Luncheon as well as for hourly culinary demonstrations in the Vintner’s House. Cuisine this year will have a decidedly international flair.

Additionally, the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder will bring eight of its students to assist in the demonstrations, prep for the luncheon, and to present food they have prepared for the main event from 1 to 5 pm. They will man a booth to present not only their food, but also information about the school. “We are very happy to have these future culinary stars lend a hand. This experience will be valuable to them as they pursue their jobs after graduation,” Marino adds.

All Star Line up

Graham Mitchell, Executive Chef, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Boulder

Hard working grandparents in Winona, Mississippi raised Graham Mitchell, Executive Chef of Escoffier’s Boulder Culinary School. His interest in food traces back to his experience cooking with his grandmother and canning vegetables from their garden.

Mitchell’s first culinary job was as a fry cook at a restaurant called the Coop Deville. He worked in Lake Tahoe at a cafe, which consisted of an entire female staff, where he learned to make bread and was inspired to attend culinary school.

His main mentor Chef James McDevitt, who is half Japanese, introduced him to Asian cuisine. “I worked well with him for several years in restaurant called Budo,” says Mitchell. “I found that I have a natural affinity for the flavors of Asian cooking and am able to pair easily utilizing classic techniques. When used correctly, the flavors are vibrant and clean without overkill.”

His grandmother, who was a teacher, and his culinary instructors shaped his interest in teaching. He says he always thought that teaching could be his “calling.” Mitchell says his greatest pride comes from seeing what his former students are doing professionally.

Mitchell brings over 23 years of experience in the culinary world to his position at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. As Executive Chef at Escoffier, Chef Mitchell oversees curriculum development, leads instruction, and manages the day to day activities for the school.

After working in resorts, hotels, and restaurants, Chef Mitchell found a calling in culinary education.

In 2005, Chef Graham decided to fulfill his dream of educating future generations of Chefs taking the position as a Chef Instructor, and Administrator at the Texas Culinary Academy. In this position he was responsible for teaching multiple classes, overseeing curriculum development and managing the day-to-day running of the campus restaurants.

At the request of Campus Director, Ken Hause, in 2012 Chef Graham Mitchell moved to Boulder to take over the position as Executive Chef. In this position he has excelled in running the academics team, student management and curriculum enhancements. Chef Mitchell also has received several awards, including his recent induction into the Disciples Escoffier International-USA, a prestigious French gastronomic society.

Edesia guests who attend the VIP luncheon, where he will join Chef Nitza Mendoza and local Chef Theo Otte, will get to sample their culinary creations. He also will participate in the demonstrations for the main event.

Robert Murphy, Chef Instructor, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Boulder

Robert Murphy started his culinary career at the age of 15 in a large Italian restaurant. After working his way up to sous chef, he decided to turn the job into a career. His education came in the form of a more European style apprenticeship at the Broadmoor Hotel, where he has spent most of his career. Robert worked his way up to the AAA 5 diamond and Mobil 5 star rated Penrose restaurant. He also ran the main kitchen, which included banquets, room service, and brunch.

One major highlight for Chef Murphy was working the “Salute to Escoffier” event each year. This event included three days of multi-course meals, interactive demos, and a Grand Buffet which included over 100 classical cold food items and 100 classical hot food items.

Jesper Jonsson, Executive Chef, Randolph’s at the Warwick Hotel, Denver

Jesper Jonsson’s background and training make him a valuable addition to our international team of Celebrity Chefs who will be demonstrating their culinary skills at Edesia this year. A native of Denmark, Jonsson trained in France at both Universite Paul Valery and Auguste Escoffier. With a solid background in French cuisine, he moved on to cook in Europe, New York and eventually Colorado for Danish diplomats, royalty, heads of state, captains of industry and a variety of film and sports celebrities. His guest lists have included such luminaries as Princesses Stephanie and Caroline of Monaco, Caroline Kennedy, Yoko Ono, Isabella Rossellini, Clint Eastwood, Roger Moore and Greg Norman, to name a few.

He speaks English, Danish and French. In a pinch, he can handle Italian as well. With all his exposure, Jonsson is a down-to earth chef who takes pride in culinary simplicity, knowledge and perfect execution of his food. He has a love for Colorado game and meats and insists that Colorado lamb as absolutely equal to the best pres de sel from Brittany, France.

He comes by his love for Colorado from having lived and worked on the Western Slope in and around Meeker. Last year, Jonsson participated in Edesia, where he met Jean Claude Cavalera, who was the Executive Chef at Randolph’s. When Cavalera moved on to teach and write, Jonsson was invited to succeed him.

Edesia is fortunate to welcome both chefs back to share their extensive knowledge and skills with guests—and maybe a good story or two!

Theo Otte, Owner/Executive Chef, 626 on Rood, Grand Junction

Guest Celebrity Theo Otte, Owner and Executive Chef of 626 on Rood – Modern American Cuisine & Wine Bar in Grand Junction, brings 30 years of culinary experience to Edesia. Best known for innovative takes on American classics, Chef Theo is influenced by the cuisine of southern Europe, Latin American and Asia. He will prepare the dessert for the internationally inspired VIP Luncheon.

Chef Theo, a popular figure on the Western Slope culinary landscape, has participated in Edesia on a regular basis as a vendor and demonstration chef. The new VIP Luncheon is another venue for him to showcase his considerable talents.

With broad culinary and restaurant experience in fine dining establishments, Otte has taught cooking classes, conducted food and wine pairing seminars, and written for national publications. In 2004, he was named Chef of the West by Taste of the Nation – Share Our Strength.

Enjoying a national and state-wide reputation as an innovator, Otte works with Palisade area growers to source the finest local ingredients, which he features on the menu throughout the year. Beginning on Tuesdays in June, he will showcase local produce and fruits at his weekly Patio Farmer’s Market. Otte’s wife, Brenda Wray, is his business partner and runs the front of the house in the restaurant/wine bar.

Griff Chiono, Chef de Cuisine, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction

He refined his classic traditional skill set in some of the better kitchens of Seattle before working as a Sous Chef at Il Bistro Italiano in Grand Junction. While there, Griff had the opportunity to travel throughout Italy, further studying Italian cuisine.

In late 2011 Griff Joined the Team at Bin 707 Foodbar, where he is nowChef de Cuisine. His weekly features and house made charcuterie are some of Bin Foodbar’s most popular items!

Marcelo Marino, Food and Beverage Director/Executive Chef, Wine Country Inn

Born in Argentina of an Italian father and German mother, Marcelo Marino was destined to embrace the world and its varied cultures.

Having apprenticed all over Europe, Marino credits Chef Michel Guerard, one of the founders of the nouvelle cuisine movement in the 50s and 60s, as a great influence on his career. He incorporates his early French training with a focus on fresh and sustainable foods as the basis of his farm to table approach.

Marino has worked for prestigious hotels and restaurants in Argentina, Brazil, Europe, the middle East and Miami, to name a few stops in his 20 plus years career.

Marino comes to Palisade from Miami, where he established the first Spanish language culinary college in the US. He also established a fresh and sustainable food restaurant for an investment group. In 2009, he received the Career College Association Teacher of the Year award.

Utilizing his passion for cooking, Marino takes an interactive approach to teaching. He emphasizes to his students that becoming a chef is a “long hard walk, and you need to have the passion and the stamina for it.”

In addition to culinary techniques, he tries to teach confidence, professionalism, discipline, time management and customer service skills.

To his way of thinking, hospitality and the culinary arts are customer service oriented businesses. “Pleasing your customers is what it is all about,” he underscores.

Marino will cook with and assist Edesia Celebrity Chefs. His enthusiasm and passion have led the way in planning for this year’s celebration to take on an international focus.

# Tickets for Edesia, which will be hosted from 1 to 5 pm, on Sunday, March 30, cost $75 per person and can be purchased online at or in person at Wine Country Inn in Palisade.

Tickets for the VIP Luncheon from 11 am to 1 pm cost $125 per person, can be purchased either online or in person at the Inn. At press time, the luncheon was nearing sell-out, so anyone wanting to attend should call to check availability. The VIP ticket also will admit the holder to the main event from 1 to 5 pm.

Edesia, which benefits Marillac Clinic, is named for the Roman Goddess of fine food and drink. Alpine Bank is the presenting sponsor, while Remy Martin, the French champagne and spirits giant, is principal title sponsor.

Other sponsors include the Daily Sentinel, KKCO 11 News, Magic 93.1, The Vault 100.7, Grand Valley Magazine, Shamrock Foods, FCI Constructors, Absolute Prestige Limousine Service, Peczuh Printing, Dalby Wendland, Suzi Productions, Eagle River Associates, the Town of Palisade, the Palisade Chamber of Commerce, Uniform Junction, Farmer Brothers, ASR and Wine Country Inn.


Press Contacts: Vendor Information: Reservations:

Jean Tally 970-270-3270

Anne Tally 970-464-5777

Tammy Clark 970-464-5777