Paul Reilly began working in kitchens at a young age, but he didn’t know he’d make cooking his career until later. The New York native attended CU-Boulder and majored in literature, but two experiences—backpacking through Europe and working at Foolish Craig’s Cafe—introduced him to the world of cuisine and convinced him he was chef material. He attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City and eventually returned to Colorado. Nine months into a stint at Black Pearl, he created a menu for the owners’ new venture, Encore. Reilly and his sister Aileen have since taken ownership of Encore, making it their own.

Snack Time
For a quick bite, Reilly loves washed-rind, stinky cheeses such as Époisses de Bourgogne (from France), Gubbeen (from Ireland), and locally made Sunlight from Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy.

Vive la France
A red “Cuisine” sign sits on Reilly’s bookshelf. It’s a souvenir from France that he and his wife picked up from a street vendor during their honeymoon. Just below sits a plate printed with a Camembert label. It looks vintage, but Reilly found it locally at Tony’s Market.

Green Way
Instead of using paper towels to dry meat before searing, Reilly uses a ShamWow. It’s an unusual use for the as-seen-on-TV product, but it gets the job done with no waste.

Quick Tip
“Have the pasta carry the sauce,” Reilly says. He explains people often rely too heavily on the sauce when the pasta should be the main event.

Wake-up Call
Reilly adds acid to his meals with his large collection of vinegars. “It makes food come alive, like an alarm clock,” he says. He has the usual staples like balsamic and sherry, but also uses black currant and tarragon varieties.

Sous Chef
Reilly isn’t the only cook in the kitchen. His one-year-old cat, Oliver, sits on the counter and watches his every move. “He just wants to help,” Reilly jokes.

It Runs in the Family
Reilly is the proud owner of a Dutch oven that has been in his family for four generations. In this cherished—and well-seasoned—pot, he makes just about everything, from soup to braised meat.

Spring Asparagus Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette and Parmesan Sabayon
(Serves 2 as an appetizer)

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ? cup Marsala wine
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 bunches asparagus spears, ends trimmed, and blanched in salted water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt

Whisk together shallot, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently whisk in olive oil until emulsified and set vinaigrette aside. In separate bowl, whisk yolks and Marsala wine until foamy. Place bowl over simmering water, and continue whisking until thick and ribbons form when mixed. Set bowl over ice bath until chilled. Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold cream and two tablespoons of Parmesan into chilled sabayon. Refrigerate. To serve, drizzle mustard vinaigrette over chilled asparagus. Spoon a dollop of sabayon over the spears, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.