Brussels (no – not the european city)



Everybody gets their moment to shine. Same goes for veggies. It was micro greens. Then kale. And now its brussels sprouts. I hated these as a kid, often comparing them to carpet, which was not a big hit with my mother. But now – NOW – I am in brussels sprout love.

I recently spent some time at the Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek. I found myself at the Grouse Mountain Grill and made a meal out of a tasty pineapple mojito and a brussels sprouts appetizer. You wouldn’t think the two go together, but let’s pretend they do.

I was lucky enough to meet the chef, David Gutowski who is sort of a big shot, I now know. And after a little banter, I learned that he is a friend and a fan of our fabulous Jenna Johansen. So he graciously gave me his brussels sprouts recipe. It’s amazing what small talk can get you.

These were the best brussels sprouts I’ve ever tasted and the recipe seems simple and straightforward, always a plus.


Crispy Brussels Sprouts


  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, cleaned, halved, and blanched
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBL smokey, crispy bacon, minced


  • Mix maple syrup and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan
  • Cook over medium high heat until boiling
  • Lower heat and and allow sauce (gastrique) to reduce
  • “Fry” brussels sprouts at 350 degrees until golden brown
  • Drain on paper towel and toss with  3TBL gastrique and bacon
  • Season with salt
  •  Enjoy

100 Kitchen Tips from the Pros (here’s one: read the recipe – brilliant!)

Apparently not?


The Food Network recently released their 100 top cooking tips of all time. For real. That’s what it’s called: 100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of all time!) 

I’ve been hoarding this list, which, after some quiet meditation and deep interpersonal reflection, I realize is wrong. We all deserve the greatest tips. Especially if they are the greatest tips of all time. Exclamation point.

Numbers 27 and 87 resonate with me – and for those of you who know me, there is no explanation necessary. Exclamation point.

27. Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin: John Besh – Author of My New Orleans

87. Make sure the handle of your sauté pan is turned away from you so you don’t hit it and knock it off the stove. It happens all the time.: Jonathan Waxman – Barbuto, New York City

Yes, Jonathan, yes it doesHence the disturbing scar on my left wrist.

What’s your favorite tip from this list or from your own? Or, better, what’s your biggest disaster? Share it with us on Facebook. 

Reeb: Reinvented

So long, farewell, we hate to see you go....

Tara Reeb is leaving Epicurean. Even as I type the words, the panic sets in…who is going to spell check this post for me?

As hard as it is to say goodbye to Tara, we know her new gig at Pelligrini promises great things for her. And for them. And that makes us happy and sad and a little bit jealous because Pelligrini just landed one of the brightest stars in Denver. And while we are over the moon that our favorite team member is moving onward and upward, we will miss the shining light that is Tara Reeb.


Warning: You Might Crack Up … But It’s Worth It.



Allow me to apologize for giving you this recipe. I am sorry. There – I’ve said it. When you find yourself pretending to make this for others and end up eating the entire pan by yourself, followed by a sugar-high-fueled trip to the grocery at 10PM to re-buy the ingredients to make yet another batch, you can remind yourself that I sort of warned you. And I apologized.

And when you wake up in the morning and your fingers are swollen like sausages and the scale screams in horror because you inhaled the aforementioned concoction of salt and sugar, please remember that I made this pitiful attempt at cautioning you.


This make-believe toffee is a favorite of anyone who has ever had the good fortune of tasting it. I make it every year during the holidays. I would make it more often, but I like to fit into my clothes the other 11 months. Call me crazy.

Salty and Sweet Toffee

Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 5 minutes 


  • 1.5      sleeves of saltine crackers
  • 1      stick (4 oz) butter
  • 1      cup packed brown sugar
  • 2      cups chocolate chips (white chocolate chips are my choice, but any flavor works)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet so that there are no empty spaces in between them, salty side up.
  • Crush any remaining crackers into small crumbs and set aside.
  • Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Stir while the butter melts, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
  • Once boiling, carefully pour the sugar-butter mixture over the crackers on the baking sheet in an even layer, trying to cover most of the crackers. If you miss some spots, don’t worry as the toffee will spread in the oven.
  • Bake the toffee crackers at 350 degrees for five minutes, until the toffee is bubbling all over.
  • Carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes.
  • Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the hot toffee, and allow them to sit for one minute to soften and melt.
  • Once softened, use a knife to spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface of the toffee in an even layer.
  • While the chocolate is still sticky, sprinkle the top with the reserved crushed crackers or candy cane pieces or sprinkles or nuts or all four – I mean – why not, right?
  • Refrigerate the pan to set the toffee and chocolate for about an hour.
  • Once set, break into small uneven pieces by hand, and enjoy!
  • Store uneaten saltine toffee in an airtight container for up to a week (there will never be leftovers, but…).

Who Do You Know? | Benjamin Garcia

Benjamin_01  Fun with Benjamin

Benjamin Garcia is one of the newest kids on the Epicurean block, and boy does he fit the bill. He sports a matching set of dimples, a quick laugh, and Capri Sun in the fridge. But under all of that contagious charm,  you will find a savvy business guy who loves what he does and does it really well. In fact, he was recently awarded Manager of the Quarter by the head honchos at Epicurean Culinary Group. That Capri Sun really does the job!

Favorite beverage?

Cream Soda or Vodka Press

What foods are overrated, in your opinion?

Lobster and Dim Sum

What is your favorite app?

Petite Naked Meatball

What is the one thing you always keep in your fridge?

Capri Sun

What is the one thing you always keep in your freezer?

Beer mugs

What is your favorite reality show obsession and why?

RuPaul’s drag race – it’s ridiculously funny

What would surprise us to learn about you?

I was a finalist in a local American Idol competition back in Texas

Do you have a favorite childhood meal?

Chicken Spaghetti

What’s your favorite time of day?

Walking through the front door of my house and being greeted by my dog Riley

What brings you good luck?

My argyle socks

What do you nosh on after a long event?

Cheese and crackers

Do you have a go-to menu when entertaining at home?

Pork loin, cous cous, fresh bread, salad and dessert

What is one food that you refuse to eat?


Do you have a favorite Epicurean item?

Short rib with polenta

What’s your favorite thing to make?

Chile con carne over white rice

What’s been your biggest accomplishment this year?

Becoming an Event Designer at Epicurean – and I couldn’t be happier!

During your career, what’s been your favorite event? Why?

The Special Event Show & Conference: I met designers and event professionals and walked away with tons of new décor ideas

What do you wish you had known then that you know now?

That things are not always going to go as planned….and that’s OK

What’s something you’d hate to live without?

The mall

Do you eat breakfast?

Cereal and a granola bar

What is your favorite comfort food?

Chicken fried steak – YUM!!!

What is your favorite holiday food tradition?

Making hot cocoa with mom and sitting by the fireplace with my family

If you got to visit the kitchen of a famous person, who would you choose?

P!nk- because she’s awesome!!

List one thing on your bucket list.

Backpack through Europe for three months

What is your motto?

 “It’s all part of the adventure”

This Super Salad Makes You Feel Like A Superhero. We Swear on Our Cape.

kale salad

You are what you eat, or so they say. Does that mean incorporating the “superfoods” into your diet guarantees a cool name, a shiny suit and some sort of fantastic power? Like making whiny children, trying clients or persistent phone solicitors (“No I do not have time for a survey because I am busy being a SUPERHERO for God’s sake!”) disappear with a blink of an eye. Imagine!

Sadly, what’s happening in the food industry is not so super. Word on the street is that manufacturers are actually creating items that are truly addictive. And you thought it was just lack of will power. Milk producers are lobbying the FDA to allow fake sugars as an ingredient in their product. And the kicker is they don’t want us to know about it.

Obviously, the best bet is to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed – um – stuff. Epicurean has been doing this since day one. We’ve always felt that real food tastes so much better than manipulated food. Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes. Our newest fave is a kale salad. Larry and Jill DiPasquale love this salad so much, they’ve added it to the specials menu at Mangia Bevi Café. They must be on to something – they’ve been married and in business for over 30 years and are still smiling. Talk about super. Here’s one take on this recipe  – but get creative. And get some of your powers back.

Epicurean’s Super Foods Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes |  Makes: 4 servings


  • 1  bunch kale
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 cup radicchio, sliced thin
  • 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries


  • Wash and dry the kale.
  • Cut out and discard the tough stems, cut into strips and add to bowl
  • Core and cut apples into strips, add to bowl
  • Slice the radishes, cabbage, and radicchio, add to bowl
  • Wash and slice baby tomatoes, add to blow
  • Dice avocado, add to bowl
  • Add pumpkin seeds and cranberries
  • Toss, dress and devour

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons agave
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion


  • Place the vinegar, agave, mustard, poppy seeds,  salt and pepper in a large bowl
  • Whisk to combine
  • While whisking add the oil slowly until all of it is incorporated

Who Do You Know? | Mario Reid

Mario_01  Fun With Mario
Epicurean’s Mangia Bevi Café is famous for the sweet potato fries. Adored for the wood-fired pizza. Worshiped for the caramel lattes. But it is Mangia Bevi’s General Manager, Mario Reid, who is truly loved at the Denver hot spot  Want to know more? We know you do. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mario, you are lucky. If you haven’t, well, here’s a little insight to the man behind the Mangia magic:

What do you consider your biggest personal accomplishment?

Living this long

What is the one thing you always keep in your fridge?

Heavy Whipping Cream

What is always in your freezer?

Ice Cream

Favorite meal from childhood?


What is one restaurant that we will never find you at?

A Vietnamese Restaurant

What is your motto?

Every day is a holiday and every night is Saturday Night

What food do you refuse to eat?

Raw oysters

What’s your favorite thing to make?

People laugh

What’s been your favorite event of your career?

Catered the 50th Anniversary of the UFO Festival, Roswell, NM in 1997

What do you wish you had known then that you know now?

How to buy a car

What did you pack in your lunchbox as a kid?

Didn’t have a lunch box

If you got to visit the kitchen of a famous person, who would you choose?

The President

Favorite Pinterest board?

What is a Pinterest board?

Favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. And Mario Day on March 10th. Mark you calendars.