Every year thousands of folks move to Denver to enjoy the relaxed, outdoorsy lifestyle our city is known for. But when chef Nick Shankland (a Virginia native who spent time in the kitchens of Colt & Gray and Old Major) made the move to Genesee last spring, that whole “relaxed, outdoorsy lifestyle” thing took on a whole new meaning. Since assuming the role of executive chef at Genesee’s ambitious Hideaway Kitchen & Bar this April, Shankland has discovered myriad benefits to life at nearly 8,000 feet. “I’m loving the views and the weather,” he says of the restaurant’s location. And it seems that Genesee residents are loving Shankland’s hand-made charcuterie, mouthwatering baked goods, and eclectic new American small plates. We caught up with the chef to see how the transition has panned out.

(Read more stories from our Ask a Chef series)

5280: Even though Genesee is relatively close to Denver, the demographic of diners is quite different. Have you had to change your approach as a chef as a result?

NS: It’s just a different crowd of individuals, and there’s been a bit of an education between us. I’ve worked in Centennial before, so I was familiar with a similar crowd. There are more families. But any dish I have in here, people in Denver would love too—I haven’t lost any creativity. I did a braised octopus with andouille. I wasn’t so sure how that would go, but people loved it. I’m making all the sausage, and doing a rotating sausage tasting. We’ve had things like frog sausage, and people are responding really well. I’m doing all the pastries in house, too—like an ice cream sandwich, a flourless chocolate torte with hazelnuts. We’ve had a lot of good dessert feedback. The biggest adjustment really has nothing to do with the customers. We’re about a month offset from Denver in terms of seasonality. So having a seasonal menu, we’ve had to adjust to that when doing menu changes.

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.