Leigh Sullivan announces the 2014 FIVE lineup -- and they're all fabulous females!
Five women strong. That's the overriding sentiment behind the FIVE class of 2014: Nadine Donovan (Old Major), Aniedra Nichols (Elway's Cherry Creek), Carrie Shores (Table 6), Elise Wiggins (Panzano) and Jenna Johansen (Epicurean Group), all of whom have been tapped as the chefs who will lead PR consultant Leigh Sullivan's brigade of kitchen magicians in 2014.
FIVE, now in its seventh year, is Sullivan's self-described "passion project," and it's the first time in its seven-year history that an all-woman group has been chosen to represent Denver in a multitude of culinary events that span from Aspen to New York City, where the FIVE gather in the kitchen of the James Beard House in September to cook for the culinary cognoscenti.
"I'm super-excited to work with all these amazing, strong females, and I'm even more excited to see what they have up their sleeves," says Sullivan, whose own pillar of strength was shattered late last year when Jeff Parr, her friend and business partner in Leigh Sullivan Enterprise -- and an integral part of FIVE -- suddenly passed away in his sleep on December 21. "With the continuation of FIVE, we're keeping Jeff's legacy going, and we're planning to give away scholarships in his name to honor that legacy," says Sullivan.
And the females of FIVE -- some of whom worked closely with Parr -- will be right behind her. Nichols, for example, who has been in the kitchen of Elway's for several years, alongside chef Tyler Wiard, an original member of FIVE, spent a lot of her spare time cooking with Wiard at several FIVE events. "Aniedra was essentially a part of FIVE for the first five years, always helping out Tyler, and it just made sense to have her be a part of this all-female group, plus she's just awesome," says Sullivan
Wiggins, notes Sullivan, was also a favorite chef of Parr. "Elise was his girl," she says. "He loved her, and so do I. She's a total badass, and I'm so impressed by her food and the way she takes command and can handle any situation. She's completely blows me away"
Sullivan first met Shores, who was recently named the executive chef of Table 6, when former exec chef Scott Parker departed to oversee the line at Session Kitchen, at Pablo's Coffee, where Sullivan says they completely hit it off. "It just felt right, and she's worked really, really hard to get where she's at, and I really respect that. She's fierce," notes Sullivan.