5 Chefs' Faves From Their Fall Menus

By Ruth Tobias  |  November 25, 2013
Credit: Christopher Cina

Back in the bad old days, when the American culinary landscape was littered with the type of Continental restaurant Calvin Trillin famously called La Maison de la Casa House, diners were pretty much limited to the same menu choices night after night: your beef Bourguignons, your Swiss fondues and your Caesar salads. Now we have the opposite, admittedly more charming problem: how in the age of farm-to-fork fare can we possibly catch every falling star of a dish before it fades away and a new one takes its place?

The answer, of course, is that we can’t - but at least we can get a head start by asking chefs themselves to single out current favorites. Just remember what the fine print reads: “While supplies last - act now.”

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    Lon Symensma, Chef-Owner at Modern Asian Bistro: Duck "Fried Rice"

    "My favorite dish right now I’m calling duck 'fried rice,' which I put in quotation marks - reason being I don’t actually use rice, I use farro, which in ancient times was fed to Roman soldiers to sustain them on their conquests. It’s just a super, super-nurturing grain, which I steam gently for about two hours, so it doesn’t break apart. I grill the duck meat before braising it overnight, then shred it and stir-fry it in the wok with red onions, ginger, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, and instead of oil I use duck fat - plus a little bit of egg for scrambling. The protein helps keep the farro grains from clumping when I add them along with some kale. Right at the end, I put in just a touch of soy sauce and sesame oil. Finally, we top the dish with a sous-vide egg; as you break into it and mix everything together, it gets rich and creamy, almost like risotto. With all those warm flavors and aromatics, it’s so good for fall."

    1555 Blake St., Suite 101; 303-353-5223

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Jonathan Power, Chef-Partner at The PopulistThai Sausage and Cavatelli

    "We get in half a pig at least once a week, and grind the trim from that to make a bulk sausage flavored with cilantro, mint, Thai chiles, scallions and lime. After cooking it, we deglaze the pan with a broth based on duck, chicken and pork bones, plus a little fish sauce. The dough for the cavatelli is equal parts ricotta and flour, so the pieces are really soft. And we add a conserva of mushrooms, which are packed in extra-virgin olive oil and marinated in sherry vinegar, to provide a nice bit of acid. The whole thing is garnished with basil, cilantro, shiso and mint, and it’s really soupy, like an Asian noodle bowl. One of our employees who’s half-Thai eats it probably twice a week."

    3163 Larimer St.; 720-432-3163

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    Olav Peterson, Chef-Owner at BittersweetMr. McGregor’s Garden

    "I truly never have one single favorite dish; if I don’t really love something, it’s not on the menu in the first place. But if I had to pick one right now, it would be this one. My sous chef William Johnson came up with it, and it very much showcases what Bittersweet is about: we’re serious when it comes to ingredients and taking advantage of the best produce at any given moment, but we’re playful on the plate.

    My wife came up with the name, from The Tale of Peter Rabbit (our son is about two-and-a-half now, so it comes up a lot). The dish is presented so that the celery root, radishes, turnips, baby heirloom carrots and chives appear to be growing out of a “soil” we make from butter, oats and stout beer - for a second there I couldn’t remember if William was using pig’s blood to give it that deep purple, almost black color, but I think he’s using stout. And the dehydrated chive dust on top looks like moss. Great chefs use all five senses when they eat, and I hope when people come in to Bittersweet, they’re having that type of experience."

    500 E. Alameda Ave.; 303-942-0320

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    Iain Chisholm, Chef-Owner at Amerigo Delicatus Restaurant & MarketBroccolini Tortellini

    I’m going with our fall tortellini. We make fresh egg pasta - just yolks and flour - and for the filling, we cook artichokes with garlic, a touch of cream and nothing else. Then we add the tortellini to a white-wine pan sauce with sauteed broccolini, onions and more garlic; finish it with butter and a big dollop of housemade ricotta and finally drizzle it with extra-virgin olive oil that we get from California. That’s it! It’s a very simple dish.

    2449 Larimer St.; 303-862-9850

  • Credit: Christopher Cina

    Jeff Osaka, Chef-Owner at Twelve: Grapefruit Salad

    This time of year, there are a lot of braised meats on our menu, squash purees and luxurious desserts, so I wanted to start people off with something lighter. Since late fall and winter are the season for citrus, I came up with this salad of pink grapefruit and hearts of palm we get from a farm in Hawaii, which give it a tropical sense. We dress it in grapefruit vinaigrette and Greek yogurt with mint; then we dot the plate with hydroponically grown upland cress - it comes to us in these little soil packets. And we don’t even dress the leaves, because with all the flavors coming together around it, the cress works better on its own.

    2233 Larimer St.; 303-293-0287