Red Star Deli, pop-up dinners and a chef series all part of chef James Mazzio's vision for Mise en Place Cooking School

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Lori Midson
Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef James Mazzio is taking over Mise en Place Cooking School.
It's been an interesting past few years for James Mazzio, whose culinary career took a giant leap forward in 1999, when the then-Boulder chef of the long-gone 15 Degrees, snagged a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef crown. Since then, Mazzio has cooked in numerous kitchens throughout the state, including shuttered restaurants like Renaissance in Aspen and Via and Neighborhood Flix in Denver.

And while there have been obstacles along the way -- he's worked on a few projects that left him high and dry -- Mazzio has spent the last several months opening new restaurants in Basalt and Carbondale -- and he's just embarked on his biggest project yet: taking over Mise en Place, the former recreational cooking school in the Icehouse, at 1801 Wynkoop Street.

"I was bored and complacent in Denver," admits Mazzio, "so I went up the mountains for six months to consult on two new restaurants -- the Brick Pony Pub in Basalt and the Edge in Carbondale -- but while I was there, I was coming down to Denver to teach cooking classes at Mise en Place, and one day in August, when I was at the school, Paula Lueske, who owns Mise en Place, said that she wanted to sell it."

Mazzio went home -- and couldn't stop thinking about the potential. "I couldn't sleep at all that night, and I had a vision, almost immediately, of what I wanted to do with the space, which is a 100-year-old beautiful, romantic building that's perfect for all off the cool stuff that I was envisioning," recalls Mazzio. He and Lueske continued to talk over the next few months, ironing out details, and the deal to sell the space to Mazzio, who owns it with four additional partners, was inked the first week in February.

And the former cooking school, the name of which will change to Studio F, is undergoing numerous changes. On Monday, March 12, Mazzio will unveil phase one of his project, Red Star Deli, a global sandwich emporium that will operate from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. "We're pulling in great products from all the regions that the menu will represent, I'm making the focaccia, smoking a lot of my own meats -- the pork and the chicken -- and I'm making my own pastrami," says Mazzio. "High-quality products aren't that much more expensive than what you get at an ordinary sandwich shop, and my goal is to show people that they can afford a better product than the garbage the mainstream sandwich chains feed people," he adds.

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