Exclusive: Leigh Sullivan announces the new troop of Denver FIVE chefs: Selby, Yontz, Pierce, Kleinman and Morrison
Each year, Sullivan includes an alum of FIVE, in this case, Selby, the chef/partner and general manager of Corner House, to be the mentor. "It's important to me to include an original alum -- a chef on hand who's been through it so they can lend their experience and knowledge to the new chefs," she explains.
Yontz, the exec chef of El Diablo, says Sullivan, "came on the Denver scene and really made a difference. I'm completely, totally in love with his style of cuisine; he's one of the most amazing, talented chefs in Denver, and he has real star power." Sullivan describes Morrison, the chef-owner of Pinche Tacos, as the "sleeper of the group." Morrison, of course, in renowned for his killer tacos, but, points out Sullivan, he's also a "superstar Italian chef." This is a guy, she adds that "makes me school-girl giddy -- I can't wait to see what Kevin can do."
Sullivan also landed Kleinman, the founder of the Inventing Room -- and one of the most innovative chefs in Denver, who's known far and wide for his molecular marvels. "The guy is such a kitchen magician and his talents are limitless, plus he's so genuine and smart," says Sullivan, noting, too, that's she's "never tapped into that molecular realm."
And then there's Pierce, the 28-year-old chef de cuisine at Euclid Hall, whom Sullivan calls the "young gun." He's "just so damn smart, and he challenges me, more so than any other chef who's been a member of FIVE," she admits. "That guy has asked more questions and done more due diligence than any chef I've worked with, and I think we can all expect great things from him." The FIVE also includes a sixth star: wine and cocktail genius, Jonathan Greschler, the wine director of Old Major, opening in the spring.
"Every single one of these guys goes back to what's make me tick, and they've all contributed so much to the success of the Colorado culinary scene. The fifth year was a milestone for me and the FIVE team, but this year is looking better than ever," says Sullivan.
The FIVE will host dinners and events throughout Denver over the course of this year, cook at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, June 14-16, and then swagger their culinary prowess at the James Beard House on Thursday, September 12. And if you want to go, you'd better by your seat now: the dinner is nearly sold out. To purchase tickets, go to denverfive.com