Pop-Up Chef

Chris Jakubiec

DENVER

About Chris Jakubiec

I began my love with cooking at an incredibly young age, developed by both my grandmothers as well as my mother. My mother owned a small eatery and catering company when I was in high school, and my true love for cooking was born. I have worked in restaurants and hotel restaurants for over 17 years ranging in cuisine from classic French to Japanese to vegan in cities from NYC to San Diego to Washington, DC to Denver. I have been on the opening team for 3 separate independent boutique hotels, as well as the Executive Chef at a Forbes 5-star fine dining restaurant. I have worked in high-volume, fast-paced, high-pressure environments under such chefs as Alain Ducasse, Claude Troisgros, Damon Gordon, Marc Meneau, and Jean-Michel Lorain (there are more) and have learned an immense amount from each. I have spent the last 17+ years working my way up, from prep to line to lead line to sous to banquet to exec sous to exec chef. I love what I do. I love to cook, to create. Whether it is something that I have never tried or a classic that I just want to revisit, or perfect my techniques, I want to share it. I want to share it with all of you. I want to express my creativity through hospitality. You are welcome to come and enjoy. It would be my pleasure! Chris (Long Version) After a few years in college in VT, I decided to try my hand at the restaurant industry. I worked in a seasonal place in my hometown for a few months, and through family found a home at a vegan restaurant, one of the best in CT. I had discovered that not only did I love to cook, but I loved working in kitchens. But I needed to understand why I was doing everything I was doing. FCI (French Culinary Institute, now ICC) in Manhattan was my "in" into the NYC culinary scene, as well as a basis of my love and knowledge of French cuisine. It was only a 6-month program and focused on the French techniques that I had grown up watching with Jacques Pepin and "Great Chefs of the World" on PBS. Two days after graduating from the FCI I began my first job at "44" at The Royalton Hotel in NYC, which at the time was still under Schrager Hotels management. Within 4 months I was working alongside Executive Sous Chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants in France! Each chef ran his menu for a month under the supervision of one of his own chefs, including Marc Meneau, Jean-Michel Lorraine, and Pierre Vigato. After almost 2 years at The Royalton I moved to South Beach, Miami to work at The Delano. Under the supervision of Claude Troigros of the Troisgros family well-known for their restaurant in Roanne, France, began executing tropical, Brazilian flavor-focused dishes using classic french techniques. I experienced high-volume cooking, at a luxurious "scene" destination property, with some pretty fun food. After 1 year in South Beach I returned happily to NYC to tackle another new position at Mix in NY, a joint venture between the company I worked for, China Grill Management, and the famed Alain Ducasse. To this day, I still remember the first time I met Mr. Ducasse. The discipline and attention to detail required to work for him is unmatched. It was at this point in my career that I was first introduced to sous vide cooking, using vacuum bags and a combi oven. Mr. Ducasse had been using it for years, but it was really in its infant stages then in the USA. I moved through stations in one of the cleanest, most organized kitchens I have ever worked in executing modernized classic French bistro-style cuisine. I decided that I wanted to work again with Claude Troisgros' cuisine and took a position at Caviar & Banana, a Brazilian Brasserio. The food was definitely geared more toward traditional Brazilian, but a lot of the techniques were still french as well as some of the influence with a portion of the menu. His cuisine always had such vibrance of flavor, color, texture, and balance that is still some of my favorite to this day. When C&B closed I returned to work with Damon first as line cook, then as banquet/sous chef at the original Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District, which at the time housed Ono, a Japanese/ fusion concept. Working with the Japanese cuisine and techniques was a blast! We served traditional robatayaki (skewered items) grilled over bichitan charcoal, in addition to traditional and American-style sushi as well as both traditional and fusion entrees. In addition, the experience of being the lead on a range of catering and banquet events would prove invaluable moving forward. The next step was an opening experience, which I would soon have as exec sous at The IVY in San Diego. When Damon was offered the opening position he was quick to offer me the supporting role, as we had worked together for almost 6 years and had developed a solid repoire. 6 months of pre-opening duties included menu development, ownership tastings, recipe development, staff hiring and training, equipment and smallwares procurement, ordering china, writing sops, and a slew of other tasks! To get the F&B operations of a brand new, luxury boutique hotel in downtown San Diego up and running was no small task. After another year and a half of full operations, I could say it was truly an eye-opening experience and prepared me for what was next to come... The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, DC which would soon house Plume, a fine-dining concept in the newly renovated historical hotel bearing Thomas Jefferson's name. Again, pre-opening duties included much of the same, but with the scrutiny of opening the hotel under Relais & Chateaux (well-known boutique properties regarded for high-end F&B operations) and with an eye on Forbes and Michelin ratings. The level of execution and attention to detail, throughout the hotel, was pushed to be exceptional. Approximately 2 years after I started with The Jefferson I was promoted to Executive Chef, my first time holding that position. Damon had decided to move back to CA and I was fortunate enough to gain the support of ownership and management as well as fellow team members. During my tenure Plume was awarded a 5-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide, one of only 33 5-star restaurants in the country at the time. I was named to the Department of State's Culinary Diplomacy Program as a culinary diplomat, among other distinctions. After over 3 years in the lead position my path led me here, to Denver, CO. After living in VT for a few years, I realized I loved the mountain environs, however VT is not quite "urban" enough given my living situations and career path. Denver provides the best of both worlds, with the Rockies just a short drive to the west, and a budding nightlife scene in the rapidly-growing Denver metro area. I was drawn to the concept surrounding The ART, a hotel given that I believe in the culinary arts as the penultimate art form as it can potentially touch all the senses simultaneously. The hotel and FIRE, the signature restaurant, bar, lounge, and terrace opened in June of 2015 with pieces from such artists as Larry Bell, Ed Rausche, and Sol Lewitt. While trying to create an "approachable" menu with offerings such as a mean burger and chicken wings (albeit not smothered in Frank's Red Hot, not that there's anything wrong with that) we also focused on seasonal local items that were prepared in a more "adventurous" fashion. Which brings me to now. If you've made it this far you should know by know that I am serious about what I do. Like I said, I love to cook. I've gotten relatively good at it over the years as I love to perfect my craft. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience. I want to be able to express my creativity through my offerings, and use everything I have learned to create, what I believe to be, a fantastic experience! And I would like to share that experience with you if you will let me. Again, it would be my pleasure!! Sincerely, Chris Jakubiec