“I was fortunate enough to be on Top Chef. I won it, and that opened up a lot of doors for me. I spent a lot of time traveling and had one particular ‘Aha!’ moment while in California. I met this husband and wife who were catering a party for a bunch of us chefs. I was just so impressed by the whole operation, and it was all distilled in this big batch of rice and beans and pork. They were cooking things that they had raised on their own farm - the beans were an heirloom variety that they had grown, the sausage was made from pigs that they had raised.
I remember thinking ‘That's what I want to do. I want to know where all my food comes from. I want to be involved in raising animals and growing produce, harvesting it, cooking it, and serving it to people. That work makes me a better chef and gives me a deeper connection to the food. Blackbelly and all that we've built across dining, the butcher shop and our catering work highlight what I love most about being a chef.
It's about knowing your source, using the best possible ingredients, supporting the local economy, and supporting small farmers.”
“My dad’s a butcher, so beef has always been my life. I work directly with our ranch in Cody, Wyoming and speak with them every single morning. It’s 50,000 acres in the mountains, and our cows live at elevation.
When the cows come down after the first snow, our ranchers herd them back up on dirt bikes, just so they can keep eating and drinking all the fresh food up there! It's so important to us that our cows live and eat in their natural environment.
We have a slow finishing program that we introduce while they stay there, and it's that slow feed and the dry aging process that we run after that makes Blackbelly's meat so flavorful and so tender.
Our beef is what we stand by - it's what we do."
My Boulder Must
"Grab dinner at our restaurant Santo, or at Basta. Kelly Whitaker is doing such amazing stuff there, with his emphasis on artisan grains, seeds, and breads. If you go, order the piatta."