SOME OF THE BEST LOCAL CHEFS ARE BRINGING GLOBAL TASTES TO ASPEN’S RICH CULINARY CULTURE. IT IS THE SEASON OF THE SUN AND THERE IS NO BETTER TIME FOR ASPEN’S CHEFS TO SHINE.
Chef Mawa McQueen
MAWA MCQUEEN, MAWA’S KITCHEN
Mention the name “Mawa” in Aspen and everyone knows who you mean. It has been nearly two decades since the Côte d’Ivoire native brought her culinary aspirations to Aspen, and this spring her determination was rewarded with a semifinalist nomination by the James Beard Foundation as Best Chef: Mountain. “It is just such validation for all of the work. I’m just so happy,” she says with her brightest smile of the honor. “I remember standing outside in front of the building we are in today and saying, ‘One day I will have my own kitchen.’ That was my dream.” Today, Mawa’s Kitchen in the Aspen Business Center is thriving, serving three meals a day to Aspen diners while also providing private jet and event catering. It is beloved as a locals’ landmark that serves the healthy, creative foods that McQueen is passionate about. Her chicken mafé is a West African staple. “It is a kind of chicken stew in a peanut sauce. It is comfort food… who doesn’t like peanut butter?” she laughs. 305 Aspen Airport Business Center, Ste. F
LORENA GARCIA, CHICA
Embered antichuchos featuring Wagyu New York strip, chorizo, chicken and Australian lamb by chef Lorena Garcia
If you can judge a chef by the location of their restaurants, then celebrity chef Lorena Garcia may be best in show. Her slopeside CHICA at the base of Aspen Mountain, designed by David Rockwell, sits with her CHICA Las Vegas (in the Venetian) and Miami outposts as crown jewels in a culinary empire. The Caracas, Venezuela-born chef offers some of Aspen’s most powerfully flavorful and visually compelling dishes that are big as the mountain that rises above her Aspen locale. Garcia’s résumé includes the descriptions “entrepreneur, cookbook author, media personality (she starred on Top Chef Masters and has two Emmys for her work on Despierta America on Univision), cookware designer and restaurateur.” And that does not include her role as simply a chef’s chef. 501 E. Dean St.
LAURENT CANTINEAUX, BETULA ASPEN
Nikkei tuna ceviche by chef Laurent Cantineaux for Betula Aspen
Casual elegance and a menu that highlights a multitude of French pan-American dishes from Parisian-born chef-owner Laurent Cantineaux are the draw at Betula Aspen. Working closely with his team, including executive chef Kris Keating, Cantineaux’s dishes feature a collection of culinary masterpieces based on his storied career, which includes stints at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris, the three-starred Restaurant Troisgros and with Daniel Boulud in New York. Oh, and there was his own awardwinning restaurant in Caracas as well. In December 2018, Cantineaux and architect and restaurateur Juan Carlos Pérez Febres opened Betula in Aspen following in the tradition of their initial collaboration on Bonito Saint Barth, in St. Barts. Betula, designed by Febres, pays homage to the Victorian tradition of Aspen, albeit with modern touches. The patio is an oasis in the summer sun and is the perfect place to sample Betula’s fresh Nikkei tuna ceviche. 525 E. Cooper Ave., #201
ANGELO ELIA, CASA D’ANGELO
Grilled scallops and corn salad with basil salsa verde by chef Angelo Elia for Casa D’Angelo
The best chefs learn from their mothers. Such was the case for Angelo Elia, who was born in Salerno, Italy, but came to America to create a collection of acclaimed Italian ristorantes and bars in Florida. Elia and his wife, Denise, have been a part of the Valley community with a home in Snowmass for the past seven years. When the opportunity came to occupy the former Pinons space and open Casa D’Angleo Aspen, it was too good to pass up. “We are truly honored to have our restaurant here and thank the residents who have thoroughly embraced this concept,” says Elia. The goal was to make delicious homemade pastas, prepare the freshest meats and seafood and combine them with a worldclass selection of wines to create an authentic Italian experience. Mission accomplished. “I am excited to have this opportunity to offer our guests the true experience of Casa D’Angelo.” 105 S. Mill St.
ROSS KILKENNY, HOTEL JEROME, AUBERGE RESORTS COLLECTION
Charred octopus with romesco, citrus and fennel by chef Ross Kilkenny for Prospect at Hotel Jerome
The oldest venue in Aspen, the venerable Hotel Jerome opens the summer season with the town’s newest chef. Hired in March, chef Ross Kilkenny brings his toque to the Rockies after a 20-year career that has seen him in the kitchens of some of America’s top restaurants, including Brooklyn’s River Café, the Napa Valley’s Bouchon and Martini House, and Meadowood in St. Helena, Calif. Impressive indeed. As a Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate, Kilkenny combines his chops for French cuisine with a flair for sourcing local products to go with his bold flavors. Now in his new role as Hotel Jerome executive chef, he will oversee the kitchens that define the myriad options at Aspen’s legendary hotel, including Prospect, the J-Bar and Bad Harriet. A rock climber, cyclist and backpacker, he looks forward to Aspen’s summer and the chance to serve dishes like charred octopus. 330 E. Main St.
Photography by: From top: PHOTO COURTESY OF MAWA’S KITCHEN; CHICA PHOTO COURTESY OF CHICA; PHOTO COURTESY OF CLARK’S OYSTER BAR; PHOTO COURTESY OF BETULA ASPEN; PHOTO COURTESY OF CASA D’ANGELO; PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LITTLE NELL; PHOTO COURTESY OF HOTEL JEROME, AN AUBERGE RESORT