There’s a game of musical chefs taking place within the Culinary Creative restaurant group (Bar Dough, Señor Bear, Mister Oso, Morin, Ash’Kara, Tap & Burger) right now, as Top Chef finalist and Bar Dough executive chef Carrie Baird leaves to form her own endeavor with longtime friend Natascha Hess, owner of the Ginger Pig food truck and stall at Boulder’s Rosetta Hall.

Baird and Hess have formed a new restaurant group called That’s What She Said, through which two chefs will share ownership of the Ginger Pig, which serves excellent Asian street food, and Baird’s new concept, called Rose’s Classic Americana, which will take over Justin Brunson’s Folsom Foods stall in early March. Folsom’s last day in business there will be February 24.

“Americana food is where I flourish, and what I really love,” Baird says. “I’m really excited to make that kind of food, and get my version of a burger and a fried chicken sandwich out there.” Her burger, which is still in development, will be made with Brunson’s River Bear American Meats’ chuck-sirloin blend and served on a hamburger bun made by chef Kelly Whitaker’s team at Dry Storage. Of course, Baird will also prepare seasonal iterations of her famous Fancy Toast, alongside a handful of sandwiches and sides. She’s also planning a bone broth program and some sort of rotating blue plate special. 

Carrie Baird (left) and Natascha Hess (right). Photo courtesy of the Ginger Pig

Regarding That’s What She Said, Baird is thrilled to be working directly with Hess again. “She has the lay of the land at Rosetta Hall and will help Rose’s get settled,” Baird says. “Then we’ll focus together on the Ginger Pig, and go back and forth, making the best food together that we can.” The cheeky name of their restaurant group stems from Hess’ wicked sense of humor and Baird’s love of the Office. “We thought it was super funny,” Baird says. “And though [Hess] will swear that I’m the reason that the Ginger Pig is open today, this chance [at Rose’s] to be my own boss is because of her. She got me into Rosetta Hall, and none of this would have happened without [working together at] Brazen all those years ago.”

Meanwhile, Juan Padro, a partner at Culinary Creative, is excited for Baird. “She remains a partner in our business, but we’re also pulling for her with her new venture,” Padro says. “It’s been so great to see her grow in recent years and she’s handled all the Top Chef attention with a lot of grace.” In her place, chef Russell Stippich will leave his role at Mister Oso to take over at Bar Dough, drawing on his culinary experience at the Populist and Frasca Food and Wine as he reimagines Bar Dough’s menus.

Stefy DeVita leaves Bar Dough to join the team at Señor Bear. Photo courtesy of Culinary Creative

In other Culinary Creative chef shuffles, Reggie Dotson and AJ Shreffler will be promoted to sous chefs at Bar Dough, and Stefy DeVita will leave that kitchen to work with executive chef Sebastián Ramírez-Lohner at Señor Bear. “We’ll have two Puerto Rican chefs in the Señor Bear kitchen now,” Puerto Rican-native Padro says, “which will be amazing. This is our opportunity to put the right people at the right restaurants.” To that end, Señor Bear cook Sebastian Hoentzch will move over to run the kitchen at Mister Oso. 

But wait, there’s more: Padro also says that Culinary Creative is opening a new Tap & Burger in Westminster’s town center later this year. “The ink is just drying on that deal,” Padro says, “so we’re talking about opening in late summer.”

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.