Troy Guard, the chef of nine75 in Denver, was cooking at the Beard House last night, and his publicist and wife, Leigh Sullivan invited me to come.
I met Troy years ago, I think in 1999, when he was the young executive chef of Roy's New York at the Marriott at the World Financial Center (a restaurant you never hear about anymore, but it's still open; it closed briefly after September 11, but was open again by February 2002). I had Troy's food last year in Denver, when I took my parents to Zengo, where he was chef at the time. I was certainly happy to try it again at the Beard House. So I RSVPed in the affirmative
Is it true, Leigh Sullivan asked, that I'm a Colorado guy?
Indeed, I'm a third generation Colorado Jew, and I told her so.
A couple of e-mails later we realized that her daughter, Mackenzie, was in the same grade at Bromwell Elementary School as my second cousin once removed, Micah, and a year ahead of my niece, Tahirah.
I don’t actually believe that it's a small world, but I do think we tend to run in pretty tight circles. Still, I think Leigh is the first graduate of Wheatridge High School that I’ve ever met. Wheatridge is on the West Side, and I don’t know a thing about it. However I did just learn from Leigh that the cheerleaders there were geeky and fat.
Mackenzie cooked in the Beard House kitchen with her stepdad. Her grandfather, Jim Sullivan, is a partner with Troy in nine75. He used to have a restaurant in Denver called Mao, which I'd never heard of. He said it was Asian-fusion, very upscale — $80-$90 per-person check averages, which is crazy in Denver. He lamented that people would only come for special occasions. Well, yeah.
He said Troy’s food at nine75 wasn't nearly as fancy as what he was preparing at the Beard House.
It's pretty common for chefs to cook food at the Beard House that’s different from what they prepare at their own restaurants. I wish they wouldn't do that. I know Beard Foundation staff often works with chefs to tweak (or completely alter) their menus so they'll appeal to foundation members, but personally I want to know what chefs have to say for themselves culinarily, and I think that's best expressed by presenting the kind of food they make at home.
That said, I always have a good time at Beard dinners (except for once, and I'll save that story for later).
What I ate and drank:
“the works” potato skins
Pol Roger rosé Epernay 1998, and floot sparkling wine in a can
Diver scallop “Sandwich” with sushi rice, petite tatsoi salad and mango mojo
mini Danska grapefruit mojito
nine75 oxtail pot pie with English peas, squash blossoms and black truffles
Movia Ribolla Gialla 2003
Charred tuna melt with avocado, mozzarella and grilled artichoke on brioche
Curtis Viognier 2002
Roasted rack of Colorado lamb with foie gras potatoes, baby root vegetables and cherry-balsamic glaze
Carneros Syrah 2002
Chocolate-passion fruit crunch cake
Nine75 specialty coffee drink.