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Denver chef and restaurateur Troy Guard has a lot on his proverbial plate. He already juggles a hefty list of Denver hot spots, including TAG, Guard and Grace, Sugarmill, and multiple locations of TAG Burger Bar and Bubu. As if that’s not enough, he’s got four more eateries on his docket this year—two of which (a third Los Chingones and a breakfast concept) will open in his own neighborhood, Stapleton.
That’s a heck of a lot of time to spend thinking about food during the workday, which got us thinking: What goes on in Guard’s kitchen at home? “We usually want something quick,” Guard confesses. “Our lives are so busy; we want to eat, then go outside for a walk or bike ride. My favorite time is when we get to spend family time together at breakfast or dinner.” We (somehow) caught up with the busy husband and father for an inside look (and a killer recipe).
A playful cow print, “Jasper Oil Painting” from Imax Corporation (left), and “My Super Soda Pops” by Chungkong from Fine Art America add an extra dose of whimsy to the Guards’ kitchen and dining room.
Designer Kimberly Timmons, whose eponymous firm also designed TAG and Guard and Grace, helped the family work up a look that’s “funky, fresh, and unexpected,” Timmons says. “It merges Troy’s and [his wife] Nikki’s personalities.”
The kitchen space flows into a dining area, where bench-style seating at the table and a modern accent rug are more fun than formal. “It’s very warm, welcoming, and social, great for entertaining and for family,” Guard says.
The dining area’s sculptural chandelier (Uptown Carnegie from Quoizel) makes a big statement with exposed vintage lightbulbs and an antique bronze finish.
The red accent wall (Piñata by Benjamin Moore) is a reflection of his family’s personality, Guard says: “We wanted some color and liveliness, not the same old cream or gray. We’re the Guards—there’s never a dull moment with us. Right when you walk into the room, it’s like boom, there it is. We need a little pizazz, a little sassy Guard-ness. It’s a lively, chatty, fun space.”
“Any type of Colorado grain,” Guard says. His favorite? “Grateful Bread Company. They mill the corn and grind it themselves so it’s fresh. It’s great for porridge, grits, and polenta. We like the texture. We even use it for making cookies.”
The built-in shelves in the island hold cookbooks and magazines Guard has collected over the years; guests sometimes grab them to flip through.
Have a Seat
Acrylic Vapor stools from CB2 make the space feel airier.
Good, sharp Japanese knives and a cutting board; a sauté pan; and a Microplane. “If I’m grilling, I might use the Microplane to get some citrus zest for a marinade for meats or fish,” Guard says. “My daughter loves using it for Parmesan cheese on top of pasta.”
Troy Guard’s Homemade Spinach Dip
Serves 10 to 12
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 ½ cups yellow onion, diced
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup flour
¼ cup butter
16 ounces chicken stock
16 ounces whole milk
16 ounces heavy cream
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese
2 pounds frozen spinach,
1 cup grilled artichoke hearts
½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup pepperoncini
¼ cup crispy prosciutto,
1 tablespoon Italian parsley,
- Sweat down the garlic and onions in oil until translucent.
- Make a roux with the flour, butter, and sweated onions and garlic.
- Add chicken stock, milk, and cream to the mixture. Mix well, making sure there are no lumps.
- Add both cheeses (Parmesan and Jack) and mix well until incorporated.
- Add the spinach and artichoke hearts and let cool.
- Top spinach dip with goat cheese, pepperoncini peppers, prosciutto, and chopped parsley.
- Serve with chips, crackers, or crostini.