A native of Illinois, 31-year-old Rice had a clear plan for his future. After studying finance at Michigan State, he received his MBA in 2004 from Michigan State University, and moved to Denver to take a job as an investment banker. But when Rice realized the corporate world wasn't a good fit, he used his connections to pursue a different dream: He opened SIP Fine Wine & Spirits at 1920 Market St. in October 2007.
"The key is a really hot grill. Make sure you coat the steak with a little butter, Worcestershire sauce, and plenty of kosher salt. Then just throw it on a hot grill for two minutes on each side. Always let it rest in foil for five minutes before you serve it—it won't get cold, and it helps preserve a lot of the juices."
"I buy fresh pasta from a local pasta company," says Rice. "I usually pick it up at the Cherry Creek farmers' market. It doesn't cost much more, but it can make or break a meal." Pappardelle's Harvest Squash Ravioli, $9/12 ounces, available through Bella Pasta at the Cherry Creek Fresh Market.
Steals and Splurges
"At $19 a bottle, it's hard to find a better sparkling wine than Mirabelle," says Rice. "In the $80 range, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé is amazing, and if you want to drop $200, go with Krug."
Eat Your Veggies
"I love skewering anything," Rice says, holding up a sturdy, 14-inch metal skewer. "These were given to me by my mom, but even wooden ones are fine. My favorite is skewered asparagus drizzled with olive oil, kosher salt, and garlic. Then just throw them on the grill for 10 minutes or so."
A Perfect Pair
"Jucudu chicken is my go-to dish for the first time I'm cooking for someone," Rice says. "It's a Thai peanut dish, and I have the perfect wine pairing—a drier Riesling from Alsace. Even people who don't normally drink white wine will love it." Domaine Rieflé Riesling 2006, $18 at SIP Fine Wine & Spirits.
RECIPE: Jucudu Chicken (Serves 4)
Mix Sriracha, minced garlic, peanut butter, ground pepper, and 1/4 cup ground honey-roasted peanuts into Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Garlic Peanut Sauce; set aside. Marinate chicken in a dish with soy and 1/4 of the sauce, one hour or overnight if possible. Sauté chicken in 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat until cooked through. Meanwhile, sauté the vegetables in another pan on medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons oil for 5 minutes. Combine chicken, vegetables, and half of the remaining sauce; heat through (1 minute). Serve alone or over brown rice, and top the dish with ground peanuts. Set out remaining sauce.