If you’re a gastronome in Denver, you know Chef Jennifer Jasinski. If you’re even a liker of good food, you know Jasinski—she’s been at the very forefront of Denver’s culinary evolution. The acclaimed chef and owner of Crafted Concepts restaurant group has made her mark on the city’s dining scene, with four celebrated establishments: Rioja, Stoic & Genuine, Ultreia, and Bistro Vendôme, which recently moved out of its longtime home in Larimer Square, and relocated to a new spot in Park Hill, at 2267 Kearney Street, where it’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Today, we’ll get an inside look at what it takes to run this epicurean empire as Jasinski takes over the @diningoutmagazine Instagram for the day.
Jasinski’s culinary journey began while she was growing up in Santa Barbara, California, where she learned to appreciate fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. After attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and while being mentored by Wolfgang Puck, she worked in restaurants across the country, including in San Francisco and New York City.
In 2000, Jasinski made her way to Denver and in 2004 she and business partner Beth Gruitch opened Rioja, which quickly became a local favorite. The restaurant’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and cozy atmosphere drew rave reviews, and in 2013, Jasinski became the first chef in Denver to ever win a James Beard award, taking home the Best Chef: Southwest title.
But Jasinski didn’t rest on her laurels. Instead, she continued to innovate and expand her culinary empire, purchasing Bistro Vendôme, a French bistro with a charming outdoor patio in Larimer Square, in 2006. Then came Stoic & Genuine, a seafood-centric spot in Union Station, and Ultreia, a tapas bar inspired by the cuisine of Spain and Portugal, also in Union Station.
What sets Jasinski apart from other chefs is her ability to bring her own unique vision to each restaurant. While Rioja and Bistro Vendôme share a focus on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, the former features Mediterranean-inspired dishes while the latter showcases French cuisine. Stoic & Genuine, on the other hand, takes seafood to the next level with a raw bar and a rotating selection of fresh catches. And at Ultreia, Jasinski draws on her own family history to create a menu that reflects her love of the Iberian Peninsula.
Jasinski’s approach to cooking is rooted in a deep appreciation for simplicity and quality ingredients. “We don’t use a lot of ingredients,” she said in a 2018 interview. “I don’t like things to be over-complicated. I want you to taste the food, not the seasoning or anything else.”
But while Jasinski’s cuisine may be simple, the process of running an epicurean empire is anything but. From sourcing ingredients to managing staff to creating new dishes, there’s always something to do. That’s why we’re so excited for Jasinski to take over the @diningoutmagazine Instagram – we’re getting an inside look at what it takes to keep these four beloved restaurants running smoothly. Go see the mix of behind-the-scenes glimpses into the kitchen, shots of mouth-watering dishes, and maybe even a few stories from her time at the Culinary Institute of America. We can’t wait to see what she has in store throughout the day.
But even if you don’t have an instagram, there are still plenty of opportunities to experience Jasinski’s culinary wizardry. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood or classic French cuisine, you can’t go wrong with a visit to one of Crafted Concepts’ restaurants. And who knows—you might even catch a glimpse of the master chef herself, working her magic in the kitchen.
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