Dining

Basket Bites

Seven local chefs divulge their picnic wisdom.

By
June 2008

At work they make emulsions, sear squab, and braise endive. But to relax, Denver's top chefs grab a blanket, some munchies, and a Frisbee just like the rest of us. For inspiration on how to do the nibbles part right (this does not include yellow deli-counter potato salad), we talked to the chefs from Frasca, Mizuna, Rioja, Tables, Restaurant Kevin Taylor, Table 6, and Steuben's.

Who Amy Vitale and Dustin Barrett, chefs and co-owners, Tables
In the Basket "Garden tomatoes and mozzarella, plain or with balsamic. And Dustin's favorite would be definitely something smoked or wrapped in bacon."
Tip "Don't forget the wine and corkscrew!"

Who Frank Bonanno, chef-owner, Mizuna, Luca d'Italia, and Osteria Marco
In the Basket "I'm Italian so we take sopressata and nice cheeses, like a hard cheese, a soft cheese, a blue, usually a goat [cheese], nice fruit, wine, and some great bread."
The Appeal "It's just a matter of taking an hour in the middle of a Sunday to eat and laugh and talk and have fun."

Who Jennifer Jasinski, chef-owner, Rioja and Bistro Vendôme
In the Basket "I really like Haystack's marinated chèvre in a jar, a yummy olive mix, marinated mushrooms, and booze. No dessert for us; we're not the biggest dessert people—though I have been known to drive by Dairy Queen!"
Table or Blanket "I'm a sit-on-a-rock kind of girl. The less stuff I have to drag, the better."

Who Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, chef-owner, Frasca Food and Wine
In the Basket "We bring a little backpack with some trail mix, granola bars, half a sandwich."
Haute Picnic "My wedding was a picnic. We set up a great tent with tons of games, badminton, horseshoes, croquet.... We did really fun stuff like salmon salad in glass jars, bread sticks, prosciutto, chilled shrimp and horseradish, green bean salad with sliced roast beef."

Who Matt Selby, executive chef, Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben's
In the Basket "Cold fried chicken...also Italian or French charcuterie, pâtés, terrines, fine cheeses...and barbecue."
Table or Blanket "I'm a table person. Some would say that defeats the purpose of a picnic, but I'm so tall and lanky it's hard to sit cross-legged."

Who Scott Parker, chef, Table 6
In the Basket "Cheese, wine, and cured meats, and really good bread."
Tip "We go to farmers' markets in the summertime and get [produce] that's banging good."

Who Kevin Taylor, chef-owner, Restaurant Kevin Taylor and others
In the Basket "Homemade fried chicken, cold steak sandwiches, ribs, tortilla chips and hot sauce, homemade pico and guacamole, margaritas, Serrano ham, the best cheeses, aged Cheddars (because they're a little saltier), and gourmet crackers."
Fave Spot "A lake, somewhere by fresh water.... I water ski near Fort Collins, and we picnic every week, weather permitting."