But Kelly thinks Denver is more than a cow town hooked on cows. He believes there are people in Denver who are of his same mind, people who see the community value in springing for dinner at a local restaurant on a Wednesday night. There's a lot of lip service given to socially responsible principles like Kelly's. In order for Somethin' Else to succeed, Kelly needs Regulars who are willing to put their money where their mouths are. "We're 20 people a night away from a good life," he says. "But until then it's pretty scary." He's read his good press, been stopped by strangers complimenting his cooking. He also knows that "if everyone who said they loved Clair de Lune actually went there, it wouldn't have closed." Maybe Somethin' Else will demonstrate once and for all if Denver really wants something else.
On the August day, when I first met with Sean Kelly, he had just heard some news that sad-dened him: Julia Child had died. He told me about collaborating with Child once on a benefit dinner for Planned Parenthood at Barolo Grill in 1994. Instead of hyping his connection to this legend, he recalled a simple story of early-morning phone calls to the Massachusetts office of Child. It was before the advent of e-mail (not that either one of them would have known how to use it), and Kelly was under instructions to phone Child at 6:30 a.m. her time, or 4:30 a.m. in Denver. "I'd work till late at night and come home and set my alarm, but I'd never sleep on those nights - I was terrified I'd oversleep," he recalled. When the morning came and he made that call, "There was nothing like hearing her answer the phone in that voice, 'Helllloooo!' It was so exciting because it was really her, and I every time I called I never got over it. It was great."
Child once said, "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." There's a picture of Kelly and Julia Child inside Somethin' Else. Kelly hung it above a wine hutch. Maybe the Regulars will notice. m
Rebecca Landwehr is Senior Editor at 5280. Not known for her cooking, she prefers to make reservations. She usually pays with her debit card.