Press Releases

Ritz-Carlton to host elite 'Chefs Showcase Dinner'

CREATED: 2006-02-21 06:35 PM


Media contact:
Stephen Lloyd Wood, media liaison

VAIL, Colo. - Consider it a "culinary extravaganza."

The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, has joined the nation's premier spring food and wine festival, the 16th annual Taste of Vail, as host to one of this year's finest culinary experiences. On Friday, April 7, at 7 p.m., Executive Chef Richard McCreadie welcomes fellow chef Jessica Jasinski of Denver's renowned Rioja restaurant at one of the festival's three Chefs Showcase Dinners.

"It is always great to be chosen as a part of such a fun event in such a great venue," says Jasinski, named "2004 Colorado Chef of the Year" and "2005 Western Regional Chef of the Year" by the American Culinary Federation, as well as "Best New Chef," "Rising Star" and more in Restaurant Hospitality, Nation's Restaurant News, the Denver Post and 5280 Magazine.

The five-course, five-chef gourmet dinner promises to live up to its billing, as three other Vail Valley chefs will be on hand. Two of those chefs will be executive chefs Geordy Ogden of Saddleridge and Tim McCaw of Zach's Cabin.

"I'm totally stoked to work with these guys. I enjoy hanging out with other chefs in the valley," says Chef Ogden of Saddleridge, who's participated in other, similar events in the past. "Usually, with a pairing, you think of the elements of the wine you can showcase. You put them together and go from there, creating a synergetic relationship."

Events like Taste of Vail's Chefs Showcase Dinners are complicated affairs known to build camaraderie among chefs, sommeliers and winemakers, as all courses are paired with special selections from participating wineries. The night of the event, they all work together - along with select staff members - as one big team in the host chef's kitchen.

Of course, organizing such a sophisticated culinary event can be quite complicated. Typically, the host chef is the point person, who arranges meetings with the other chefs, his own sommelier and representatives from the wineries. Once the tone is set, the chefs toss more ideas around until everyone is comfortable with the menu and their role in producing it.

Chef McCaw of Zach's Cabin, recent recipient of Wine Spectator's 'Best Of' Award of Excellence, says events like Taste of Vail's Chefs Showcase Dinners always are learning experiences - not only for diners but for the chefs and sommeliers, too.

"It's always good to play in someone else's back yard," says McCaw, known for his "American cuisine with a Pacific flair." "I love to be around other chefs - how they conduct themselves, new ideas, new techniques."

Chefs McCreadie, Ogden and McCaw all welcome Jasinski, whose early career includes impressive restaurant credits, such as: sous chef at Postrio, San Francisco; café chef at Spago, Las Vegas; executive sous chef at Granita, Malibu, Calif.; executive sous chef at Spago, Chicago; and corporate chef at Wolfgang Puck Food Company. With Puck's support and encouragement, she even did a stint in Paris at Ledoyan, a Michelin two-star restaurant.

"Wolfgang was my mentor and my culinary role model. His philosophy that 'it's not necessarily what you do, but how you do it,' is my mantra," Jasinski says. "You can make mashed potatoes, or you can make great potato puree."

In 2000, Jasinski settled in Denver, joining the staff at Panzano, where profiles and reviews in local and national publications soon put her at the head of her class. Then, in 2004, Jasinski opened her own restaurant, Rioja, in Denver's trendy Larimer Square district, serving handmade pastas, innovative "Mediterranean-Italian big plates" - even a "peerless consommé with duck raviolini," according to Westword, a Denver weekly.

"I believe you get out of things what you put into them," says Jasinski. "I always want to get the most out of everything I do."

And with her tireless drive for perfection, Jasinski continues to garner resounding critical acclaim.

"After 16 years of cooking, Jennifer Jasinski now has her own place," reported
Food & Wine magazine last year.

"The patio ... has been busy since springtime weather came to the Mile High City," added The Wall Street Journal.

Tickets to the Chefs Showcase Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, Friday, April 7, at 7 p.m., are $125 per person - and are not included in the Festival Pass. For information on tickets, travel and lodging, visit

The Taste of Vail was created in 1990 by a group of Vail Valley restaurateurs as a marketing event to showcase the resort's world-class restaurants. Now the internationally famous community boasts more than 20 Wine Spectator award-winning restaurants - the most of any resort community in the United States. This year, as many as 5,000 attendees and volunteers are expected to participate in the 16th annual Taste of Vail, with chefs from three dozen local restaurants and winemakers and/or owners of 58 wineries from around the world participating.

Despite its stature among wine and culinary festivals and its reputation for haute cuisine, the Taste of Vail is a nonprofit organization. In the past 15 years, the festival has contributed more than $300,000 to Vail Valley Charities; and in 2005, in conjunction with Ritz-Carlton, the Taste of Vail donated $13,000 to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund.

For more information - including the latest on participating wineries and local restaurants - visit

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