Colorado Expression magazine February-March 2021

Page 1



Escape to Africa



Silver Linings Unexpected Benefits


Sweet Treats





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In this Issue




Out & About 8

Features 42

Sip & Savor 32

The annual Ferrari Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital and Roundup River Ranch’s Camp in Your Community highlight the winter season.

By Lindsey Schwartz

By Cynthia Pasquale

Bobby and Danette Stuckey—along with their partners in the Frasca Hospitality Group—continue to create memorable experiences for diners at their restaurants.

Kansas City-born Brian Rodgers turned his passion for barbecue into a new business creating plant-based recipes and products, along the way losing 120 pounds and regaining his health.



By Joanne Davidson

By Marge D. Hansen

While 2020 caused major disruption in the lives of people worldwide, the pandemic also had its positive side, according to Coloradans who share how the year changed them.

Treat your sweetheart to confections created by four Colorado-based businesses, or use their recipes for crafting your own.

Shot in the Dark


Bits & Pieces By Danielle Yuthas

Get recipe inspiration in Epicurean Catering’s new cookbook, visit the Denver Art Museum for a look at the Senga Nengundi exhibit, explore the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs, sign up for spring classes at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and save the date for these online and in-person events in support of Colorado nonprofit organizations.

Culinary Power Couple

Silver Linings


Fashion By Stephanie E. Richards

Moda Operandi caters to luxury fashion aficionados who want to have the first look at designer collections online, assisted by personal shoppers.

BBQ that’s good for you

How Sweet it Is

Don’t miss out Stay up to date on news and happenings exclusively for Colorado Expression readers by signing up for our monthly newsletter at

Cover COLORADO EXPRESSION (ISSN # 1070-5066) is published bi-monthly by New West Publishing Inc., 3600 S. Beeler St., Ste. 100, Denver, Colorado 80237, Elizabeth Hamilton, owner, 303-694-1289; fax: 303-694-6939; e-mail:; website: Annual one-year subscription rate is $22.00, cover price is $4.00. Periodicals postage is paid at Denver, Colorado and additional entries. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Colorado Expression, c/o New West Publishing, 3600 S. Beeler St., Ste. 100, Denver, Colorado 80237. Copyright© 2021, New West Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.



Photo by Jensen Sutta

Bobby and Danette Stuckey, who briefly took off their masks to be photographed for this issue, have spent 20 memorable years together in the restaurant business, including a challenging one in 2020.


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In this Issue 28

Business Spotlight By Danielle Yuthas

With offices in Denver and Aspen, Obermeyer Wood prioritizes its clients’ needs in developing financial plans.


Hotel Spotlight

The Grand Hyatt in Vail has you covered whether you want to work, play or mix it up in the mountains.


Art Scene By Colleen Smith

Painter Robert Gratiot creates cityscapes in an abstract realist style that makes viewers do doubletakes.


Getaways By Jordan Martindell


Departments 14

By Danielle Yuthas

Individuals and small groups expand their skill sets to use power tools at Made Wkshop in Denver.

By Suzanne S. Brown

Nick LeMasters, president and CEO of Cherry Creek North, relishes his role in working with the varied businesses and constituencies in the business district.


Great Escapes By Len Goldstein

A safari to Kenya offers an opportunity to appreciate wildlife in conservancies and learn about local culture.


Non-Profit Profile Warren Village offers single parents and their children a safe place to live, as well as childcare, education and programs for gaining self-sufficiency.



Public Persona

By Joanne Davidson

Seeing Utah’s five national parks with a private guide is a fresh way to experience the natural wonders.






Curated By Doug Parsons and Lily Neubert

The owner and manager of White Peacock Denver offer advice to couples creating their wedding registries.

Pinterest Issuu 60



From the Publisher


Elizabeth Hamilton

A Whole Lotta Love Staying close to those we love (in-person or by Zoom) while exploring new directions carries us through these strange times


Suzanne S. Brown


Lisa Buscietta


s we find ourselves firmly in 2021, we’re looking with optimism to the future while staying close to

home and those we love. We’ve endured so DESIGN/PRODUCTION

many challenges over the past year and are

Laura McGetrick

now eager to make plans, begin to travel and

Connie Robertson

enjoy all our state has to offer. We look

Andrea Späth

forward to the arts reopening (fingers crossed) and hope the nonprofits we support

Pamela Cress Joanne Davidson Jensen Sutta

will be planning in-person events before we know it. They have been resourceful with virtual events, but we are excited to feature the live occasions as we have in the past. Here at Colorado Expression, our focus is on the generosity and beauty of life in Colorado

Photo: Jensen Sutta



—and this issue is no exception. Honored to include a story on Bobby and Danette

Misti Mills

Stuckey of Frasca Hospitality Group, we spent a bit of time with them at a sociallydistanced photo shoot at one of their restaurants, Tavernetta. Their energy is


Joanne Davidson Len Goldstein Marge D. Hansen Jordan Martindell Cynthia Pasquale

infectious. Make sure to read about what they are doing to ensure the survival of independent restaurants. Writer Joanne Davidson takes a look at the bright side of life, bringing a fresh perspective and ways of staying positive and healthy. On the sweet side, check out our ideas for Colorado-sourced treats for the loves in your life. Since we are not out shopping quite as much as we like, our fashion story features a website where you can find your favorite designers with the help of a Coloradobased personal shopper by your side. As we navigate these uncertain times, and

Stephanie E. Richards

prepare to take the leap back to normal, it is my goal to highlight the wonderful

Lindsey Schwartz

people, organizations and businesses in our state. Have a loving Valentine’s Day, and

Colleen Smith

welcome to early spring. In the meantime, you will find me brainstorming with my

Danielle Yuthas

crew on how to bring you a bit of escape on the pages of our magazine. Hope to see you in person soon.


Elizabeth Hamilton

President and publisher, New West Publishing FIND THE VERY BEST OF COLORADO


Stay in the know so you can plan your next outing with our monthly newsletter. Sign up at And for the latest happenings around our state, follow us on Facebook (@ColoradoExpression), Instagram (@coloradoexpression) and Twitter (@ColoExpression). FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 COLORADOEXPRESSION.COM 5

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ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE Ferrari of Denver Toy Drive & Rally For the 12th annual Ferrari of Denver Toy Drive & Rally held Dec. 12, more than 100 drivers delivered carloads of toys to patients at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. Photography by Pamela Cress










1 Participants outside the Ferrari of Denver showroom. 2 The Ponderosa High School Pom Team next to a Ferrari 812 Superfast. 3 Jennifer and Chad Jensen fill their McLaren 570S with toys. 4 Rob and Jackson Sibold. 5 Mike Rudolf and his children Natalie and Maley. 6 Jason Sarrafian and Joni Klippert all smiles, ready for the toy run. 7 Toys ready for kids at Children’s Hospital Colorado. 8 Elise and Sage Fennig. 9 Steve Fromkin and Lauren Friedrich. More photos for these events:



Come in for some



Roundup River Ranch’s Camp in Your Community Programs The organization that provides free camp programs to children with serious illnesses delivered boxes with DIY activities to children and families at Morgridge Academy, Children’s Hospital, Brent’s Place and Ronald McDonald House of Denver on Dec. 8. Photography by Roundup River Ranch



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1 A student at Morgridge Academy unpacks her box. 2 Roundup River Ranch staffers visit Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Warehouse at St. Joseph Hospital. 3 Students unpack supplies to build puppets. 4 A Morgridge Academy student discovers what’s in his box. 5 At Morgridge, a student sees what Roundup River Ranch has sent him. 6 Camp boxes arrive at Children’s Hospital. More photos for these events:





Insider’s Guide

Our contributors share what’s on their minds


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

What is the most

spot in Colorado?

“The top of any mountain. This one happens to be on the hike between Aspen to Crested Butte, which I did with my fiancé, Brian Sullivan.” LINDSEY SCHWARTZ writes about the romance and partnership between Danette and Bobby Stuckey

“Snuggling with the hubs while riding a slow, oldschool chairlift on a ski date sans kiddos.” JORDAN MARTINDELL recounts a trip to Utah’s national parks—that she took solo—in this issue

“The most romantic place in Colorado is Red Rocks Amphitheatre on a warm summer night under the moonlight with Denver twinkling in the distance and a favorite band performing the dance music and singing their hearts out on the love songs.”

“The most romantic spot in Colorado is St. Mary’s Glacier during the wintertime. I always love to bring a hammock along during this hike to relax, take in the stunning scenery and enjoy all the beauty Colorado has to offer.”


is a freelance graphic designer and marketing specialist

is a writer, music lover and frequent contributor to the magazine





LONG THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN of Denver’s shopping scene, Cherry Creek North continues to be the city’s most upscale mixed-use neighborhood, offering restaurants, services and places to stay if you’re visiting from out of town, or to live, if you’re planning to take up residence. While many national names have moved to the 16-block district in recent years, the area continues to have a distinctly Colorado appeal with its locally owned and operated clothing and jewelry stores, its galleries and cafes. Nick LeMasters is in a good position to see how business has evolved both in Cherry Creek North and across East First Avenue at Cherry Creek Shopping Center, where such luxury retailers as Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton are longtime tenants. Prior to being named president and CEO of the Cherry Creek North Business Improvement District in late 2019, LeMasters spent 23 years as general manager of the shopping center. Earlier in his career he managed shopping centers in California for The Taubman Company and also worked with Dayton Hudson Corporation’s Mervyn’s chain. His work also extends into the community, as a member of the board of directors for Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitors bureau. LeMasters was inducted into the Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame for his work promoting the state. Other honors include the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday Commission Business Social Responsibility Award and being named Cherry Creek Chamber of Commerce Community Leader of the Year.

Where do you call home today? Centennial. How do people describe you? Difficult to say. I’ve never asked. I hope people would say considerate, honest, keeps his word and follows through. I might be seen sometimes


Nick LeMasters


Name: Nick LeMasters Age: 62 Marital status: Married to Robyn for 42 years Children: 3, and 4 grandchildren Career: President and CEO, Cherry Creek North Business Improvement District Hometown: Napa, Calif. Website:



as a bit serious. Might need to lighten up a bit. Who do you most admire? Anyone who has served our country in the armed forces. What was the last great book you read? Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers, by fly-fishing author John Gierach. He writes masterfully about this great sport. What is your biggest fashion faux pas? Not my faux pas, but never wear a necktie with a button-down shirt. Also, I’m not a fan of the “no-socks” look. What is one thing that you absolutely can’t live without? Not really a “thing,” but it has to be family. What was your last major purchase? A new car. What gadget can you not live without? The rangefinder that I use when I play golf has become indispensable. What are your hobbies? Golf, fly-fishing, reading. What is your most memorable Colorado experience? I took a day trip from Crested Butte to Marble. What an extraordinary place. Home to the whitest marble on Earth; used in several of our national monuments. I ate at the one and only restaurant, which was amazing. What one word describes Coloradans to you? Friendly. What is your favorite spot in Colorado to visit? Devil’s Thumb resort in Tabernash.

Where do you want to go when it’s safe to travel again? Mazatlán, Mexico. The people are incredibly warm and gracious. Are you involved with any charities? Yes. I serve on the board of the Denver Police Foundation. What took you down this career path? Strange path. I studied criminal justice in college and thought I’d work for the FBI. Meanwhile, I worked in retail while putting myself through school and fell in love with the work. That led to a career in the shopping center industry and now Cherry Creek North. You wear multiple hats at Cherry Creek North. What is your favorite part of each job? Yes, multiple hats because of multiple constituencies. I love working with all types of people and helping them to solve their business problems. It is gratifying to see the success of retailers, developers, property owners and managers and know that you may have played a small part in their success. What’s the hardest part of each job? The most difficult part of my job is to see businesses that have failed. On some level, I take it personally. I wonder if we could have done more to assist. It can also be very difficult to find common ground among the varied interest groups in and around Cherry Creek North. At times, the vision of the neighbors, the city and developers don’t align. I’d like to think that we can play a part in bringing diverse interests together. How is working in Cherry Creek North different from the role you had at the shopping center? Working for a publicly traded company like Taubman is entirely different from Cherry Creek North. Out of

necessity, corporate America has far more bureaucracy. With Cherry Creek North, we can be nimble because we’re small. And, the buck stops with me. That’s a huge change. The pandemic has been a big challenge to both restaurants and retail. What are some of the qualities of those who have been able to weather the storm? Those merchants and restaurants that seem to holding their own are demonstrating incredible creativity and amazing customer service. They understand the gravity of the time we are in and have dealt with it with courage. Cherry Creek North has undergone a lot of changes in recent years. What do you view as the biggest improvement in the district? Without question, the district has experienced significant change and evolution. The area has now become a dynamic, mixed-use area where people can live, stay, play, dine and shop in one 16-block community. Do you expect the district’s signature events to return—the July arts festival, food and wine celebration, parties in the plaza and the sidewalk sale? We are approaching the coming year with optimism and the hope that all of these events will return. They have become an integral part of the Cherry Creek North brand identity. What else can we expect that’s new or different in 2021? Development within the district has not ceased. The district will become home to its fifth hotel and another first-class office building with one of the country’s renowned workout facilities. We are embracing change within Cherry Creek North and it has become our “new normal.” Suzanne S. Brown is managing editor of Colorado Expression.




The Details Warren Village 1323 Gilpin St. Denver CO 80218 303-321-2345


Housing and Help

Photo: FocusTree Studios


THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A MINUTE: Each and every one of the single-parent families residing at Warren Village arrived there after experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. And 95 percent of those living in one of the nonprofit organization’s 93 apartments in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood are moms in their early- to mid-20s with custody of at least one child. They’ve spent days, weeks or months living on the streets or couch surfing—that is, bouncing from location to location with the length of stay dependent on a host’s willingness or ability to shelter them. Many are escaping abusive relationships; others have lost the jobs that enabled them to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. At Warren Village, they receive low-cost, safe and stable housing while participating in programs designed to help them achieve sustainable personal and economic self-sufficiency. Rent is based on a resident’s income and ranges from $25 per month to 30 percent of their total income. “(Prospective) residents show up in all manner of ways—from referrals to knocks on our door,” says president and chief executive officer Ethan Hemming. “But it’s important to note that we’re not an emergency shelter; we are a very intense program.” To become a Warren Village resident, individuals must complete an online application that requires them to demonstrate that they are motivated to set and achieve goals. They must have a high school diplo-

Most of Warren Village’s parents are mothers in their early- to mid-20s.


ma or GED; be 18 or older; and have custody of one or more children. In addition, they’re asked to find fulltime work or be a full-time student, be willing to attend three life skills classes per month, and participate in Warren Village’s seven-week wellness initiative. They’re also asked to volunteer for two hours per month. The average stay at Warren Village is 22 months, and late in 2020, when information for this story was gathered, 93 percent of its apartments were occupied. This month, as War-


ren Village marks its 47th year, 7,688 families will have been served. “Our number one thing is to get families stabilized when it comes to housing, especially because young children are involved,” Hemming adds. “A lot of our parents have escaped abusive relationships, or have lost their source of income. They want to be stable, contributing members of society; they just need help in getting the tools to do so.” An entry on the Warren Village website underscores how important

this is. It states that “Living in poverty and homelessness is not only stressful but can result in feelings of fear, hopelessness and prioritization of daily survival over long-term planning.” The COVID-19 pandemic, Hemming says, made life even harder for “folks who already were in a tough spot. In the early days, when everyone was afraid to go outside, we rolled out telemedicine options and installed Wi-Fi in the building because all of the college courses had gone online and our residents needed to access them.” A year into it, people are adjusting, but issues remain. “Our graduates are having the toughest time because of job losses and looming evictions,” Hemming says. Help is found through Warren Village’s two-year-old Alumni Engagement Network, where a team of peer resource navigators and a licensed clinical social worker work with the alums as they negotiate opportunities and challenges. Hemming, whose family has been in Colorado since 1891, was born in Colorado Springs and raised in the family cabin in nearby Cotopaxi. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Colorado College, he went on to earn a master’s degree from Colorado State University. He met Nicole, his wife of 20 years, when they were both employed by Denver Public Schools, he in the homeless education program and she as a specialist in teacher training and restorative justice practices. “Our parents had known each other since before Nicole and I were born,” Hemming recalls, “yet we didn’t meet until 27 years later when we were both in DPS.” He went on to spend four years as executive director of the Colorado Charter School Institute, growing its student population to 15,000 and focusing on meeting the needs of at-risk students, before joining Warren Village in May, 2016.

Photo: FocusTree Studios


The residential facility has a playground for young children.

“I hadn’t intended to make a switch,” he says. “It just happened.” But he’s glad he did. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined having the passion for something like I do for Warren Village. Our founders saw into the future and as its steward I have to build on the founders’ goal of being flexible, tenacious and great. “We are part of the solution,” He concludes, “but we want to be more.” Warren Village took shape after Dr. Myron Waddell, a physician practicing in Denver’s inner city during the 1960s, and members of Warren United Methodist Church became alarmed by the increasing number of single-parent families and the accompanying high rates of poverty, family violence and homelessness. It was incorporated in 1969 and opened its doors in 1974. Its core values are accountability, collaboration, empowerment, excellence, inclusion and integrity.

Warren Village CEO Ethan Hemming reads to children.

Warren Village’s United Airlines Learning Center offers child care and education.

Joanne Davidson first became acquainted with Warren Village in 1992 when she profiled it for The Denver Post’s Season to Share campaign. Since then, she has covered many of its fundraising events.



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The Wedding Registry


The wish lists that couples fill out today for their wedding gifts are likely to be quite different from the ones their parents created. Travel funds, camping gear and donations to charities are some of the things couples request on their registries. But there remains a place for tradition, and for heirloom-to-be items like good china and glassware, silverware and serving pieces. Here’s advice we give to couples. By Doug Parsons and Lily Neubert

3 Know your guests.

Photo: Jess Blackwell Photography

We understand the appeal of a honeymoon or first home fund, but the reality of it is that a portion of your guest list will feel more comfortable sending you a physical gift rather than giving cash. This is one of the most important reasons to register for a long list of things you wouldn’t buy yourselves. And items should be in a wide variety of price points.

4 Think long term.

1 In-person bridal registry appointments are a must.

One of our favorite parts of our business is the bridal appointments. We greet our guests with a glass of Champagne, a store tour and explanation of how our registry program works. Then it’s time to pick out their items. We spend time mixing and matching china patterns and pairing them with table linen options. We pick out everyday dishes and flatware and build the dream bar. Many of our brides and grooms have said the in-person registry experience was one of their favorite parts of their wedding planning process.

2 China—trust us, you want it.

We always encourage our brides and grooms to register for china. The


reality is, what we carry is not your grandmother’s china. We keep it fresh and fun by showing couples a variety of different brands and patterns to create a place setting that makes them excited to set a table for any occasion. Inheriting dishes? Bring them to your bridal appointment. We love the idea of incorporating the old with the new.

THE DETAILS White Peacock Denver 2440 E. Third Ave. Denver, CO 80206 303-954-8333


It is easy to register for what you feel like you need in the moment. But it is important to remember that the items on your registry will be part of the lifelong traditions you want to create with your family. Consider including items like toasting flutes, a frame for your wedding portrait or a special vase where you’ll display flowers commemorating anniversaries and birthdays.

5 Be confident in your taste but open to ideas.

We laugh because many times, the groom gets more into the process than the bride does. So we try to find ways for them both to have input. He might feel strongly about the charger; she might want to select the dinner plate. Or he’ll take on the barware and she the dishes. We also have lines like Pickard, which is made in the U.S., that they can personalize with monogramming or a crest to make it special. Doug Parsons in the owner and Lily Neubert is the store manager of White Peacock Denver.


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What’s Happening in the West By Danielle Yuthas


What’s cooking

ANYONE WHO’S BEEN A GUEST AT a party catered by Colorado’s famed Epicurean Group knows to expect delicious and innovative cuisine, artfully planned, prepared and presented. Ditto for dining at the company’s Greenwood Village restaurant, Mangia Bevi Café, being in a box on the club level when the Broncos play at Empower Field at Mile High, or attending an event at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Company owner Larry DiPasquale and his team combed through the recipes used by chefs who’ve worked with him through the years and selected 49 to include in their new cookbook, Recipes from a Lifetime of Fine Food and Celebrations from the Epicurean Experience. Home cooks will find hors d’oeuvres, entrees, sides and desserts from current and former chefs as well as Italian classics that DiPasquale grew up with—and perfected— through the years. The full-color spiral-bound book has an innovative design that allows the cook to unfold and prop up its ends to make a flip book. It sits on the counter and is easy to read and follow as the home chef prepares a recipe.

Included are such favorites as lamb “lollipops,” which the company has served for decades; and rich treats, like the “sinful” dessert that DiPasquale’s wife, Jill, first enjoyed as a child when her mother made it. Also within the pages are such Italian staples as DiPasquale’s Lemon Pizza, served at Mangia Bevi; and

Jill’s dessert

Lobster salad starter

basics, including Sharon’s Canned Items, named for Epicurean partner and Colorado philanthropist Sharon Magness Blake. DiPasquale created a book to celebrate his 30th anniversary and wanted to acknowledge the additional strides the company has taken in both the hospitality industry and the community in the last 10 years with the new volume. A portion of the proceeds from each $27 sale will be donated to Colorado Event Alliance to help hospitality industry workers affected by the pandemic.

For more info on the book and how to purchase a copy, call 303-770-0877;

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What’s Happening in the West

Photo: Denver Art Museum

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum

Performance piece, detail, right panel, 1977.

Senga Nengudi


M Photo: TImo Ohler

MORE THAN 70 PIECES OF ABSTRACT and conceptual art comprise Colorado artist Senga Nengudi’s “Topologies” exhibit on display through April 11 at the Denver Art Museum, as part of an international tour. Nengudi rose to prominence in the art world in the 1970s and became a key member of the Black American avant-garde and Black Arts Movement. The exhibit includes performance art, sculpture, photography

From “Ceremony for Freeway Fets,” 1978.


Her art begins with bodily experiences that are transformed into material presence emerging as ‘thought experiments,’... The sculptures, photographs and performances expand both the limits and possibilities of the body, embracing a wider view of social and political norms. Her works are tangible, yet ephemeral; universal yet personal and also collaborative. Rebecca Hart, curator

and mixed media tracing different periods throughout her career. Her best-known work is an interactive sculpture series, “R.S.V.P.,” which will accompany her series of upcycled fans and air conditioner parts known as “A.C.Q.” (“air conditioner queen.”) Admission to the exhibit is included in the general admission price. Dated and timed tickets will be required.


The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum opened in Colorado Springs in 2020 and rapidly gained recognition as one of the most accessible and interactive museums in the world. Visitors can walk through a gallery focusing on the history of the ancient games; see the collection of Olympic torches dating to 1936; get a better understanding of the games and what it takes to compete and experience the Parade of Nations through a multimedia simulation. Guests also can try six interactive sports demonstrations and even have a conversation with Olympic and Paralympic athletes, powered by artificial intelligence. The museum, at 200 S. Sierra Madre St., provides a safe and contactless experience.



The ice castles in Dillon and in sister cities across the U.S. are hand-built each winter by ice artists using hundreds and thousands of icicles. Stroll through LED-lit ice sculptures, frozen thrones, carved tunnels, slides, fountains and more. Founder Bret Christensen started with one ice creation in his front yard and its popularity led to growing the attraction at its current location near Lake Dillon.

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Let’s find you the right one! JONATHAN KEILER 303-619-2917

TAYLOR PALESE 720-258-5669

RIKE PALESE 303-522-5550



What’s Happening in the West

March 14 SING OUT FOR SAFEHOUSE Five local choirs will honor Women’s History Month by performing in a virtual concert at 4 p.m. on March 14 to raise donations for SafeHouse, the emergency shelter and advocacy group for women and children escaping domestic violence. The requested donation is $18 or multiples thereof.

March 19 JUNIOR LEAGUE OF DENVER PRESENTS THE JOURNEY Carli Lloyd, the only American to score multiple goals in three separate Olympic soccer games—

three of which were in the first 16 minutes of the World Cup—joins the Junior League of Denver’s virtual and online event to support the mission of training women to meet their potential as well as promoting volunteerism and child literacy. The evening is a celebration of the league’s impact on the community, including deliver ing more than 75,000 books to every 4-year-old in Colorado, and the women who make it happen. Clockwise from top left: a client-dog team from Freedom Service Dogs, golfer Jack Nicklaus and The Kol Nashim choir.

STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa Memberships




W ORLD-CLAS S WELLNES S destination, Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs, has expanded the offerings at STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa. Included are five new wellness concierge medical memberships “where patients and providers are partners, where medicine and care are accessible and where the best-of-the-best techniques of Eastern and Western


April 29


JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE EXECUTIVE LUNCHEON Golf great Jack Nicklaus is teed up to host the online event to raise funds for food security, emergency financial assistance, employment assistance and counseling for those in need. The Golden Bear will share his lessons for success in work, life and sport. If you purchased tickets or sponsorship for the 2020 event, all benefits will be honored in 2021. jewishfamily; 720-248-4633


Friday, March 19, 2021

TICKETS: Visit for details @juniorleaguedenver @jldenver @juniorleaguedenver #JLDJourney #TheJourney2021

May 6 FREEDOM SERVICE DOGS GALA Diamonds in the Ruff will be held as a virtual evening of auctions, entertainment, tales of courage, transformation and hope from clients and even stunts performed by the charity’s own Freedom Service Dogs. diamonds; 303-922-6231

medicine are blended to produce a holistic approach to health, healing, hospitality and happiness,� said Grant Jones, vice president of wellness. Select from health, immunity, lifestyle, cardiology or premium VIP membership options to achieve your best self. For those seeking a getaway or extended stay, casitas and residences are only steps away.

NINTH ANNUAL JOURNEY EVENT Please join us for an exciting evening fundraiser to support our Mission of developing women to be civic leaders. Proceeds also support our current community efforts to improve literacy rates and provide access to books for children through the third grade in the Denver metro area.

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Investing in the Future Obermeyer Wood counsels its clients to look at the long term when planning their financial paths

WHEN SEASONED INVESTMENT professionals George Wood and Wally Obermeyer joined forces in 2014 to create Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel, LLLP they created a firm that is not just bound by a legal duty to act in the client’s best interest, but by a personal commitment as well. The company is proud to have a team of experienced and objective advisers working in an environment where “the bottom line is, and always will be, that we put your interests ahead of our own,” the company states on its website. “Working with objective and experienced advisers, which we are proud to be, can help you find financial freedom today and through retirement.” The company’s advisers pride themselves on being consistently available to help, communicate or make recommendations on issues

THE DETAILS Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel, LLLP (limited liability limited partnership) 200 Columbine St. #600 Denver, CO 80206 303-321-8188 501 Rio Grande Place Suite 107 Aspen, CO 81611 970-925-8747

Photos courtsey of Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel

By Joanne Davidson

Members of the Obermeyer Wood team include, left to right, Maia Babbs, Wally Obermeyer, Dana Gleason Nightingale and Skip Dines.

of all shapes and sizes, from routine tasks to more complex matters. Or, as Dana Gleason Nightingale sums it up, “We’re a great team with some wonderful clients.” Obermeyer Wood manages $1.786 billion in custodied assets; three of its seven partners are women: and everyone—from the president to the support staff—boasts impressive credentials. A partner and vice president who performs security analysis, manages client relationships and spearheads Obermeyer Wood’s Denver-area marketing initiatives, Nightingale joined Obermeyer Wood in 2012 after specializing in capital markets and investor relations for Intelsat, Washington Real Estate Investment Trust and Ford Motor Company. She holds an MBA in


finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BBA in finance and political science from the University of Notre Dame. Forbes has included her in its ranking of America’s Top Next Generation Wealth Advisers for the past four years. Wally Obermeyer is the son of Klaus Obermeyer, the 101-yearold founder of the iconic Aspenbased ski and snowboard clothing company, Sport Obermeyer. In addition to his role as president and co-founder of Obermeyer Wood, Wally Obermeyer, a licensed pilot who uses his plane to cut the commute time between the Obermeyer Wood offices in Aspen and Denver, also serves as vice chairman of Sport Obermeyer. In a 2020 interview with Forbes,


It’s been a unique time to deepen those relationships.” Wally Obermeyer, a trustee and investment committee chair of the Gates Family Foundation and recipient of several Best-In-State Wealth Advisor awards, discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a “unique opportunity” for clients to be more receptive to conversations around financial and estate planning. “It has forced people to think more about their lives and it’s been an opportunity (for us) to play a bigger role,” he told the magazine. “They’re also, I don’t know if scared is the right word, but they’re worried, they’re concerned. So that means they are more receptive to what we should be doing overall. It’s been a unique time to deepen those relationships.” George Wood, the partner and

co-founder emeritus, started Wood Investment Counsel in 1982, following a 13-year career as an investment analyst for Stein Roe and Farnham in Chicago. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a professional engineering degree from Colorado School of Mines, where he serves on the school’s board of governors and chairs its investment committee. Philanthropy has a significant role in the Obermeyer Wood company culture. In the past year the firm provided significant financial support to the Colorado COVID Relief Fund, Food Bank of the Rockies and the National Forest Foundation. It also supports Denver Botanic Gardens, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Aspen Public Radio and the Coors Western Art Show & Sale. Chief compliance officer Charlton Rugg serves on the board of directors for the Center for Work Education & Employment while partner and vice president Maia Babbs is on the University of Northern Colorado board of trustees. Vice president Mary Elisberg is a volunteer puppy

Clockwise from above: With offices in Denver and Aspen, the firm’s team includes, from left, Skip Dines and Maia Babbs; Kimbo Brown-Schirato, left, and Jody Dible.

Among the company’s partners are, from left, Ali Phillips and Dana Nightingale.

raiser for Canine Companions for Independence. Partner and executive vice president Ali Flynn Phillips is treasurer of the board of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies Endowment Fund and is a member of the Aspen Theatre board. Client services and marketing assistant Efrata Kirose earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Colorado Boulder. During a college internship, she provided financial literacy education to immigrant and lowincome populations. She serves on the board of the Boulder Council for International Visitors. As for the future, Nightingale and her colleagues encourage their highnet-worth clients to “stay invested because 2021—and beyond—has the potential to be very good,” thanks to pent-up demand and increased productivity. Obermeyer Wood, she adds, has a “very nimble and adaptive investment team” that excels in avoiding areas where there’s a higher probability of risk. Her thoughts are underscored in an article in the company’s newsletter that advises, “Investors (should) remind themselves that cool heads in hot games win.” Joanne Davidson has written about the Denver area’s charitable fundraising events and noteworthy individuals since 1985.



High-Country Haven The Grand Hyatt Vail offers Coloradans a special blend of amenities whether you want to work, play or do some of each in this world-class mountain town


Located in Cascade Village just five minutes from Vail Village, the Grand Hyatt Vail offers a mix of private residences, guest rooms, suites and condos to accommodate individuals, couples or families. There are so many activity choices in Cascade Village, you might not want to leave the property. The ice rink and yurt are fun for kids and adults alike. Must-stops are the Fire and Ice Bar, outdoor Gore Creek Kitchen and fire pits. Daily experiences cater to the whole family, including live entertainment. Swimming and soaking options include a creek-side infinity-edge pool and two al fresco hot tubs. The staff is helpful in navigating whatever you would like to do. From scheduling spa treatments to making dining reservations, they will assist. The main restaurant, Gessner, has an incredible fresh menu whether you are craving the wagyu beef that melts in your mouth, seasonal soups and salads, or an artisan dessert platter piled with your favorite sweets. And

don’t forget to peruse the incredible specialty cocktail list, or the Moët & Chandon Champagne vending machine that dispenses bubbly with just the push of a button. For the winter sports enthusiast, Grand Hyatt Vail offers the mountain town’s only resort-side open air quad chair lift. Rated among the “Top 10 Best Ski Hotels in North America” by USA Today readers, the resort offers such amenities as a Ski Concierge Club with perks including valet parking, ski storage, on-site lift access, lodging savings and more. The club has two membership levels: individual ($3,000) and family ($5,000 based on a family of four). If you are going to hit the slopes and need to rent skis or a snowboard, check in with the friendly staff at Venture Sports. The Grand Hyatt Vail is also a great place to work remotely. The resort offers a private workspace and complimentary internet, a $50 food and beverage daily credit, 50 percent discounted valet parking, 10 percent discount on laundry services, a


Photos courtesy of Grand Hyatt Vail

Fire pits, a resort-side chair lift and lounges are among the many amenities at the Grand Hyatt Vail.

waived resort fee, and 20 percent off ski or bike rentals for seven-plus night stays. The property has clearly thought about what Coloradans want and need for work and play and to stay safe as they navigate the new normal for awhile longer.

THE DETAILS Grand Hyatt Vail 1300 Westhaven Drive Vail, CO 81657 970-476-1234 For more on the Ski Concierge Club, contact Russ Craney at 970-476-6106 or



His BBQ is Good for You Brian Rodgers turned his passion for Kansas City barbecue into a healthy habit of plant-based sauces, recipes and lifestyle advice By CYNTHIA PASQUALE


THE DISCIPLES OF BARBECUE ARE everywhere, but few can say the cooking tradition saved their lives. Even fewer assert their expertise with nonmeat dishes. Brian Rodgers can do both. For nearly three years, he has been consumed with developing plant-based menus and preaching the benefits of healthier food options. But his love of barbecue goes way back. Barbecue joints were around every corner in his hometown of Kansas City, and every gathering and event included the cuisine. Even his high school baseball team sported its own barbecue cook who fed the team as well as hungry passersby after games. Rodgers became interested in cooking while helping the team chef with meal planning, shopping and preparation. He became a successful computer programmer and businessman, but during his free time, he developed sauce, rib and pork recipes that won competitions and established him as a respected barbecue pit master. At the age of 44, weighing in at 300 pounds and battling six potentially deadly diseases and conditions, he discussed with his doctor the prospect of gastric bypass surgery in August 2018. “You know, Brian,” he remembers the surgeon saying, “You’re prob32

Brian Rodgers

ably not going to be able to eat barbecue anymore.” Rodgers could deal with other possible outcomes of the surgery, but living without barbecue was a deal-breaker. “‘Honey, we’re out of here on the next thing smokin’,” he says he told his wife at the time. “That’s how the whole philosophy of plant-based barbecue started.” The next morning, he gave up eating meat, dairy, salt and oils and started counting calories. But he could not turn away from his beloved barbecue. “I took all the methods and styles of cooking that I had learned over the years and applied it to plant-based ingredients.” It wasn’t the first time he had prepared plant-based barbecue. In 1999, he entered a Smoked Jackfruit recipe in a barbecue competition in the wildcard category and won. And in 2017, he catered a Boulder event and

treated hundreds to a plant-based barbecue menu. He went to work transforming what he knew best. He examined everything he “couldn’t put in his body anymore,” and that included his own award-winning barbecue sauce. Typical sauces are laden with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, salt and honey, for instance. “I used my original sauce recipe, and once I took all that stuff out of it, it tasted absolutely horrible. It was disgusting,” he recalls. After an internet search, he realized healthy barbecue sauces were nearly non-existent. The experimenting continued. “My kitchen literally looked like a murder scene from ‘Dexter,’” he says, but he soon created an “amazing” Kansas City-flavored sauce that complemented plant-based ingredients. He admits that the first 30 days of his new eating regime were “maybe the worst days of my life.” He persevered The Details and kept himself busy BRIAN RODGERS AND THE NEXT THING SMOKIN’ thinking about ways to make barbecue nutritious. Classes: Search Brian Rodgers BBQ on “Barbeque was really a Products: Find Fool’s Gold sauces, rubs, spices and savior for me. I feel like I seasonings at was given a gift to share


with people. That’s why I gave up my programming career and focused on this.” Within six months, he had lost 120 pounds with the oversight of his doctors and a nutritionist. Another result was Fool’s Gold Plant Based BBQ, a business that sells a variety of his sauces—including one made with Palisade peaches— as well as rubs, spices, salts and seasonings. Rodgers says while others had done bits and pieces of plant-based barbecue, he was the first to pull it all together. The cuisine takes less time to prepare than more traditional barbecue, making it accessible for home chefs. Rodgers’ recipe for Sweet Potato Burnt Ends–which he says will hook anyone, even the most ardent meat lover, on the glories of plant-based barbecue–takes about 45 minutes to cook. And you don’t need large, expensive smokers to prepare the dishes. Stove-top smokers, which are the size of a cake pan, and smoke-infused oven bags are readily available, including on his Fool’s Gold website. He learned early on not to compare plant-based food to meat-based dishes. “Ask a world class pit master if the brisket tastes like the turkey. No. They are completely different ingredients,” he says. “You have to look at it as what it is and make it taste amazing.” Along with the Smoked Jackfruit, other recipes he shares include Smoked Seitan Brisket and Smoked Chickpeas. He reminds people that some of the best parts of a barbecue meal are the sides. He’s developed recipes for healthy coleslaw (Mamsie’s Cole Slaw) and corn (Cream Cheese & Green Chile Corn), for instance. Of course, he doesn’t only eat barbecue. He’s a taco, Thai and pizza kind of guy. Rodgers transforms those “gritty, fun, everyday foods that people enjoy” into healthy dishes using plant-based ingredients and heaps them under the label of Mountain Grub. Think Plant-Based Philly Cheese Sandwiches using marinated tempeh and mushrooms, the Philly Mac N’ Cheese Loaf, and Smoked Jackfruit and mushroom burritos. “I’ve been fighting obesity my entire life. I had tried every diet out there,” he says, but nothing worked until his conversion to a plant-based lifestyle. To help others in similar situations, Rodgers also established The Next Thing Smokin’ Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting childhood obesity through education, mentoring and scholarships. Fast forward to early 2020 when Rodgers built out The Next Thing Smokin’ brand. Regular podcasts share his story and recipes, and offer advice on transitioning to a plantbased lifestyle. A book, The Next Thing Smokin’, documents his life change. The Skinny weekly newsletter offers tips on health and exercise and community insights. He also demonstrates cooking techniques and recipes on a YouTube show, often with Lauren Panoff, a dietician, writer and plant-based advocate.

He still walks 3 miles a day and has lost a total of 150 pounds. His expanded operation is headquartered at The Pullman in the Union Station neighborhood, where he lives, continues to develop recipes and tapes the cooking shows and podcasts. Proceeds from his book and Fool’s Gold sales go to his foundation. So do fees he gets through his consulting services, which he offers to restaurants around the country. He now plans to develop local chapters of the foundation in major cities around the country. “I made a decision,” he says. “Do I want to build (The Next Thing Smokin’ brand) into a huge business, or do I make it bigger than me? What I want is to help as many people as possible.” Cynthia Pasquale is a Denver writer and editor.

Cream Cheese and Green Chile Corn

This dish is a crowd pleaser. It doesn’t matter how much you make or how many people you are serving, it will be gone, says recipe creator Brian Rodgers. “I like to sprinkle some smoky paprika over the corn beore serving, or for a kick, sprinkle with some Fool’s Gold Kanarado Cayenne Powder.” 1 32-ounce bag of frozen corn (or kernels from 8 ears) 1 pouch of plant-based cream cheese ½ pound of fresh roasted fresh green chiles, diced (or 2 small cans of diced green chiles) 1½ tablespoons of plant-based butter 1 tablespoon Fool’s Gold Smoked Hickory Salt 1 tablespoon Fool’s Gold Smoked Tofu Rub

Combine all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight if possible. Cook in the smoker at 225 degrees for 3-5 hours and flavor with light hickory wood. Serve as a side with any meal. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 COLORADOEXPRESSION.COM



Delectable Treats for Sweethearts Confectionary pros share ideas for Valentine’s Day


EVERYONE COUNTS FEB. 14 AS ONE of the sweetest days on the calendar. Whether it’s a handful of hearts with traditional sayings, a heart-shaped box filled with creamy, crunchy surprises or an off-the-charts dessert, the occasion calls for something special that conveys caring thoughts from one heart to another. We asked four top spots in Colorado to share some of their favorite treats to make or to give. Read on for their sweet suggestions.

Chocolate Lab

Chocolate Lab opened on East Colfax Avenue in 2010 when Phil Simonton first went public with his distinctive chocolate/ savory truffles, which now number more than 300 intriguing culinary combos. Seven years later, Simonton added a restaurant and bar to the chocolate shop. “The company mission is to incorporate science and art into each of the entrees, desserts, cocktails and most of all our chocolate creations. Each dish is carefully crafted to bring comfort and adventure to the guest,” he says, citing inventions like the pulled pork sandwich with bourbon chocolate barbecue sauce. The Lab’s Valentine heart-shaped boxes speak to the occasion, but the contents tell an unusual story. The Drunken Onion Truffle, for example, offers the definitive, out-of-the-box gift. “We caramelize sweet onions and incorporate those into the ganache. 34

Photo: Phil Simonton/Chocolate Lab


In the center is a piece of drunken goat cheese,” Simonton says. “No matter if it is a simple chocolate truffle, a crazy chocolate entree or a uniquely crafted cocktail,” Simonton confirms, “love is always in the air at Chocolate Lab.” Chocolate Lab “The Warrior” Cocktail

1½ ounces of Tra-Kal (Patagonian spirit) 1 ounce espresso ½ ounce chocolate liqueur ½ ounce honey simple syrup

Mix all ingredients into a cocktail shaker without ice. Dry shake the cocktail. Add ice and shake a second time. Strain into a coupe glass. Shave dark chocolate over the top of the cocktail and serve. (The double shake allows the coffee to froth up, leaving a beautiful foamy cocktail that is light with unique flavors from Tra-Kal, a pear and crabapple liqueur.)


Deiter’s Chocolates

Turtles, seafoam, buckeyes and nonpareils are favorites at what owner Adrienne Johnson-Conway defines as “a small, Colorado-owned, modernized, Bavarian-style chocolate house with a flair for new chocolate trends.” Johnson-Conway and her partners changed the store’s name from Dietrich’s to Deiter’s, a multi-generational nickname of the Dietrich family, presenting something fresh but also honoring tradition at the business located near the University of Denver. The innovative chocolate trends that Johnson-Conway speaks of are the choice on Valentine’s Day. “We offer handcrafted, edible heart-shaped chocolate boxes with love-struck fla-

A sampling of Deiter’s sweets offered every day and Valentine’s Day.

vors like raspberry, mango chili and Champagne,” she comments. “It feels fulfilling when a customer appreciates the time, effort and thought that goes into our chocolate. A process that begins with an idea becomes threedimensional, finishing with a customer enjoying a creation.” 8-10 ounces of 110-degree water or milk 1 tablespoon Meadow Gold butter ½ ounce unsweetened baking coins 2 dashes of stevia or 1 to 3 tablespoons sugar or honey to taste ½ teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon ½ teaspoon turmeric ¼ teaspoon ginger Dash black pepper Dash cayenne pepper Blend with hand frother or blender.

Photo: © Dmitrii /

Deiter’s Bulletproof Hot Cocoa


The award-winning Gateaux Bakery in the Golden Triangle neighborhood graciously offers pièces de résistance cakes, cookies and pastries. Known for luscious flavor combinations from petite bites to enchanting wedding cakes, owner and pastry chef Michelle Rasul took over Gateaux—a femaleowned and all female-staffed enterprise—nurturing her culinary passion then realizing the dream of purchasing the business in January 2020. “The gals of Gateaux live to celebrate each and every holiday throughout the year,” notes Rasul. “For Valentine’s Day, it would be common to find a slice of New York-style cheesecake covered in a raspberry ganache festooned with hot pink, glittery Xs and Os on them, or sweetheart cupcakes, assorted heartshaped cookies and conversation hearts,” she adds, emphasizing that cookies can be customized to display a specific theme. Each month brings new “edible art” to the display cases, including delectable breakfast items. Customers often express gratitude for special celebration creations. “How lucky to play a small part in the most important and joyful or meaningful moments in the lives of others,” she smiles. Gateaux Bakery Raspberry Linzer Cookies 3 sticks unsalted butter 2 cups sugar 4 eggs 5 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 2½ teaspoons cinnamon 1½ cups hazelnuts, finely ground Seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs until combined. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon until incorporated. Add hazelnuts. Mix on low speed until combined. Press by hand onto a parchment lined sheet pan and wrap with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll out dough on well-floured surface, until 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your favorite shapes. Place half the cookies on a sheet pan, side by side. Top the cookies with your favorite seedless jam. Sandwich together by placing the remaining cookies on top of the filled cookies. Whisk a single egg in a small bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly 36

Photo: Jenifoto /

Gateaux Bakery

brushing the egg wash over the cookie sandwich until glossy. Not too much, or you will have a side of scrambled eggs with your Linzer cookie! Bake for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Enstrom Candies

Jim Simons, the fourth-generation owner and vice president of sales, is sticking to the company’s motto: “We are still just making a little candy for a few of our friends.” Today, it is on a much grander scale. Almond toffee remains Enstrom’s top draw, along with caramels, cherry cordials, creams and mint meltaways. Valentines are always delighted to receive a heart box packed with toffee or chocolate-covered strawberries. For extra fun, Enstrom’s has added chocolatemolded stilettos and cowboy boots to the shelves.


“I’ll be wearing an Enstrom shirt and someone will stop me in a random airport and proceed to tell me that their family has been buying our toffee for generations,” says Simons. “I will always love to see the look on a first-timer’s face when they take their first bite of our almond toffee. I can just tell when we gain a new customer for life.” Enstrom Almond Toffee Pie

1 cup sugar 4 tablespoons cornstarch ¼ teaspoon salt 2 cups milk 2 egg yolks 4½ tablespoons cocoa 2 ounces grated German's Sweet Chocolate 1 tablespoon butter ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1 baked pie shell 4 ounces ground Enstrom World Famous Almond Toffee

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add 1/4

cup milk, mixing well. Blend in egg yolks. Scald 1 1/2 cups milk over hot water in top of a double boiler. Add cornstarch mixture to scalded milk, stirring constantly. Beat well with a wire whip or rotary beater until smooth. Cook mixture over hot water, stirring frequently until clear and thickened. Meanwhile, dissolve cocoa in 1/4 cup milk. Add cocoa and grated chocolate to cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is thickened. Remove mixture from heat. Add butter and vanilla, stirring until butter is melted. Refrigerate pudding mixture until it is thoroughly chilled. Turn it into a baked pie shell and sprinkle ground almond toffee over the top. Chill.

Toffee Cake Enstrom-Style Submitted by Becky Stow

½ cup white sugar 1 cup packed light brown sugar ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature) 1 egg 1 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 cups cake flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 8 ounces Enstrom’s Almond Toffee, chopped until crumbled


½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts ½ slivered almonds Chocolate icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch cake pan. Cream the sugars and butter in large mixing bowl. Next, whip the egg and add to

CHOCOLATE LAB 2504 E. Colfax Ave., Denver 720-536-5037

Enstrom Candies makes caramels as well as its famous almond toffee.

DEITER’S CHOCOLATES 1734 E. Evans Ave., Denver 720-925-5982 GATEAUX BAKERY 1160 Speer Blvd., Denver 303-376-0070 ENSTROM CANDIES, INC. 701 Colorado Ave., Grand Junction 970-242-1655 Retail locations:

that cream, then slowly add the buttermilk. Beat in the vanilla, flour and baking soda. Pour cake batter into the cake pan. Sprinkle the Enstrom's Almond Toffee and the nuts, if using, over the top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. For added sweetness, frost with chocolate icing and decorate with slivered

almonds and chopped Enstrom’s Almond Toffee. Stand back or you might be stampeded; it’s a crowd-pleaser.

Marge D. Hansen is a chocolate lover and writer/editor based in Broomfield. Her work appears in a variety of magazines and on several websites.




An Eye for Reflections

Artist Robert Gratiot creates paintings that are both abstract and realistic By Colleen Smith


ROBERT GRATIOT’S CRAFTSMAN bungalow in historic central Denver is a cabinet of curiosity, clearly an artist’s home. Most of his house—not merely one room—also functions as his studio and personal gallery. Room after room is chock-full of dozens of his complex canvases, a school of his wood-carved fish painted in tropical colors and fitted with metal fins, and about 70 bas-relief ceramic tiles stamped with witticisms such as, “Many delusional therapists feel forever Jung.” A multimedia artist, Gratiot (GRAHshe-oh) also has painted thousands of watercolors and tried his hand at printmaking, too. Gratiot’s artworks exhibit his sense of humor and whimsy, as well as his astonishingly focused and prolific nature. Gratiot lives with two well-mannered small dogs, one of which, due to illness, has no eyes, the lids sewn shut — an irony given that Gratiot’s eyes see more than most. Way more. “I always keep my eyes open,” says Gratiot, known primarily for his photorealistic paintings. The artist is both a contemplative, reflective individual and a painter with an eye for reflections. In fact, he titled his book, published in 2018, “Reflections.”

THE DETAILS Contact the Artist Robert Gratiot’s art is available through the artist by appointment. Visit or email him at for more information.


Denver-based Robert Gratiot is both an artist and a valued instructor at the Art Students League of Denver.



From his Cityscape series, Rob Gratiot’s “Red Truck Boston,” acrylic on canvas

Gratiot’s paintings capture highlights, shadows and mirrored images reflected on a range of seemingly impossible subject matter: clusters of colorful agates, foil candy wrappers or blown-glass Christmas ornaments. He painted dozens of wire-rimmed “John Lennon” sunglasses in a bin and scores of antique glass marbles. And as if that weren’t enough, he

painted the marbles in plastic baggies and the sunglasses in cellophane packaging with a galaxy of reflective surfaces. He paints dazzling store fronts with light bouncing off the architecture’s shiny brass, polished chrome and gleaming window glass. “One thing I enjoy is seeing things on a lot of different levels, things in doors and behind us and off to the

side,” Gratiot says. “Almost all the city scenes combine a lot of abstractions that start and stop, disappear and reappear. I put abstractions together to make the realistic whole.” For the painter, art is essential for his own wholeness. He paints diligently, practically every day. Gratiot describes what he calls a “soul kick”— the heightened sense of awareness




he feels when seeing something he wants to paint: “I can’t ignore it. It’s screaming at me,” he says. “I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but it’s like I’ve got to have this. I get so excited.” Gratiot’s artistic excitement took root as a boy watching his father, a surgeon, as he painted. “My earliest positive influence was my dad, and he had some excellent artist friends who were very nice to me and not scary, but gentle. I remember the smell of my father’s paints, especially alizarin crimson,” says Gratiot, who grew up in Monterey, California. “I remember being on the floor on elbows and knees, drawing. I drew a lot of scenes with a line as the ground, and sky, and lots of tunnels under the ground. And I had paint-by-number kits,” says Gratiot, who noted that art provided him a haven at a time when he struggled with stuttering. “I think I felt safety when drawing. I got lost in my drawings in my own room,” he says.

“Red John Lennon Glasses,” acrylic on canvas

The budding artist started his formal art studies with lessons as a boy, earned his BA in Art at the University of the Pacific, went on to study at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, and earned

“Candies,” acrylic on canvas



his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Denver. Gratiot began painting with oils, but switched to acrylics to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals. “It was a health thing and not an aesthetic


From Gratiot’s Cityscape series, “Bus, Paris,” acrylic on canvas

thing or about the feel of the paint,” he says. “I’m working most to please and impress myself. I want to prove myself every time,” he says. Gratiot also has proven himself as a teacher, having instructed thousands of students at the Art Students League of Denver over the past 30 years. “Some of them are just learning which end of the brush to use. A lot of them have been with me for a long time. I love them,” he says. “I don’t care about their skill level. I do care about their enthusiasm level.” One of Gratiot’s longtime students, C. Shields said, “Rob has always helped people find their own way, their own style, and their best way of painting. He can look at a painting

and zero in on just what you need to do to make it better.” For Gratiot, the gratification from his giftedness never fades. Nor does his appreciation of the meditative state induced during his work. “I’m a moody artist. Sometimes when I look at my work I think, ‘I should have been selling shoes.’ Other times I say, ‘This is amazing!’ And I can’t even believe I’ve done it,” he says. “When it’s going well, it’s a beautiful, pleasant high without alcohol or other drugs,” says Gratiot. “Other times, in a fit of pique, I have broken my brushes. And I have cried when finishing a painting.” Maeve McGrath, an art consultant since the 1970s, described Gratiot’s

paintings as “unparalleled in my experience.” Gratiot, 73, says, “I love it when people like my work, no matter how old I get. I’m not painting to make people happy, but there is an undercurrent of playfulness. Inside of tight structures, there’s humor. Hopefully what carries through is some sense of strength and quality and dedication. Determination.” he says. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘I’ll never look at the world the same way after seeing your paintings.’ Or they say, ‘I wish I had your eyes — just for a day.’ ” Colleen Smith, a longtime contributor to the magazine, is an award-winning author, art director and filmmaker based in Denver.



B Y L I N D S E Y S C H W A R T Z / P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y J E N S E N S U T TA

CULINARY POWER COUPLE Bobby and Danette Stuckey share their love of hospitality with Frasca group diners

obby and Danette Stuckey met on a blind date. By date No. 3, they were heading to Europe. Twenty years and four award-winning restaurants later, the pair is like the food they serve: beautiful, inviting and leaving you wanting more. They met through mutual friend Max Martinez, owner of Max Women’s Clothing stores. Danette modeled for Martinez, and was in his Denver location one day when the retailer announced that he had met her future husband, referring of course to Bobby Stuckey. Martinez was spot-on. Fast forward 20 years when I sat down with the Stuckeys at their James Beard award-winning restaurant, Frasca. We talked about state of restaurants during a pandemic, Bobby’s role in getting the Restaurant Act before Congress, and the couple’s enduring love. A full cup, to say the least. One thing has not changed in two decades, Danette says. “Bobby is a force. His energy makes him otherworldly. I often wonder what planet he is from. He is so determined.” When Frasca first opened, it had 15 employees. At its pre-pandemic


peak, Frasca, Tavernetta, Pizzeria Locale and Sunday Vinyl employed 200 people. The success is due in part to the sensational menus inspired by Northern Italy, where Bobby and Danette spend time, but also can be attributed to their passion for hospitality, which makes dining at their restaurants much more than just an evening out. In 2019, The James Beard Foundation recognized Frasca’s dedication to hospitality with an outstanding service award.




And of course, there is the wine, also recognized with a James Beard award in 2013. Bobby Stuckey is one of 269 master sommeliers in the world. In 2007, he and his longtime business partner, chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, launched their own wine, Scarpetta, which is served in all of their restaurants. According to Bobby Stuckey, “Hospitality is a craft, and it is something we constantly talk about, meditate on and practice.” He explains that it is about being a self-reflective human, something the Stuckeys live and breathe. Each day before the restaurants open, they go over the guest list and discuss anything they know about their upcoming clients and how they can make each person feel special. At the end of each evening, they dissect the night, the highlights and what they learned. Danette spends most of her time at Frasca, while Bobby often heads to Denver to check in with Tavernetta and Sunday Vinyl. The Denver expansion was led by their fourth partner, Peter Hoglund. Like all of their employees, he started in the front of the house as a glass polisher. True hospitality means being tuned in to every part of the experience. Danette laughs at the thought that she has become the mother figure to all of the employees, but her attention to detail and to understanding the emotional well-being of staff and the guests alike bring an authenticity to their restaurants. Her warmth is something you can feel from the moment you enter their space. But the talk of dining on tagliatelle and drinking fine wine seems like a distant memory for the Stuckeys, who, like so many, had their world turned upside-down in 2020. When the pandemic first hit, there were some silver linings. The pair had more quiet evenings together listening to music in their Boulder home. Before the pandemic, Sundays were their only day off and it was their sacred time together. Bobby would go for a morning run and then they would make breakfast. An omelet or pancakes, always accompanied by bacon. Danette admits that they rarely cook dinner. When they lived in Napa, and Bobby was working at the acclaimed French Laundry, there were pomegranate trees, lavender and artichoke plants in their yard. In those days, Danette says they did more grilling fish from the local farmers markets and making fresh salads with the ingredients in their yard. In Colorado, they usually go out and have dinner with friends, but COVID-19 made that nearly impossible. Just days after the stay-at-home order went into effect in March 2020, Bobby co-founded the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which began as states were shutting down indoor dining. The goal of the coalition was to give a voice to privately owned restaurants that rarely had a voice at the table. Stuckey, along with some of his extraordinary culinary colleagues, including Tom Colicchio, Will Guidara (of Eleven Madison Park), Caroline Styne, and Erika Polmar and many others went to work. Together they spearheaded The RESTAURANTS (Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive) Act with the goal to establish a $120 billion fund within the U.S. Treasury that restaurants could use to cover



payroll, supplies and rent/mortgage costs by receiving grants equivalent to their revenue loss from 2019 to 2020. Thanksgiving week, I spoke to Danette by phone just after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis shut indoor dining down in several Colorado counties. She said the new rules mean that they had to pivot once again and set up outdoor dining options. “We feel that Gov. Polis has been a great leader through this pandemic,” Danette said. “It’s the lack of leadership on the federal level that has left restaurants, the largest private sector job creator, without a safety net.” The National Restaurant Association estmates that more than 110,000 U.S. restaurants have closed permanently or long-term because of the economic effects of the pandemic. With almost 12,000 dining establishments in Colorado, that equates to thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in lost revenue. Bobby’s new mission to help the workers and the independent restaurants survive means he starts each day early, calling anyone who might help raise awareness for this cause. “Bobby is not just fighting for his own livelihood,” Danette says, “he is fighting for the millions of restaurant jobs across the country.” Despite the efforts, the relief fund was not included in Congress’s most recent stimulus package. Just after the new year, I spoke to the Stuckeys again. With 2020 behind them, the pair sees a day when they can get on an airplane and head to the Collio region of Italy. For years they have been going to the same location in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The proprietors are now a part of the Stuckeys’ extended family. They eat at La Subida at the inn and walk on the trails in the nearby forest. The restaurants in that region have had a strong influence on the Frasca Hospitality Group. When I asked Bobby and Danette what they missed most in 2020, without hesitation they said friends. Their friends around the world and friends right here in Colorado. They look forward to the day they can sit at a bar in one of their local spots and enjoy a good glass of wine. Maybe a wine from Northern Rhone or a Burgundy from Marquis d’Angerville, or a glass of their own Scarpetta wine. These simple pleasures weren’t so simple in 2020. For those of us who long to enjoy the brilliantly crafted food at the Stuckeys’ restaurants, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their passion for their restaurants is intact. They are also solid in their dedication to independent restaurants across the country and to giving a voice to the millions of people who work in the industry. Their passion for wine, food and for each other is contagious, and with that we raise a glass, virtual or in person, to Bobby and Danette Stuckey. Lindsey Schwartz is an award-winning television producer and writer, having produced for “48 Hours,” “Dateline NBC” and CBS News. In 2020, she wrote and produced two episodes of a new series for MSNBC called “What’s Eating America.” She won a regional Emmy in 2020 for her writing on Rocky Mountain PBS’ “Heartbreak to Hope,” which marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Bobby and Dannette Stuckey’s energy for food, wine and each other is contagious.

Frasca Hospitality Group

1738 Pearl St., Boulder, CO (303) 442-6966 Restaurants include Frasca, Tavernetta, Pizzeria Locale and Sunday Vinyl. The company also has its own wine label, Scarpetta.



Photo: © HASPhotos /

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a devastating loss of lives and livelihoods worldwide, but in talking with medical doctors, mental health professionals, fitness experts and everyday people, we discovered that for some, 2020—dumpster fire that it was—also brought silver linings. Some were life-changing, others delivered clarity, peace of mind and new feelings of worth. A resetting of goals and priori-

ties is the biggest positive to come out of COVID-19, according to licensed psychotherapist Lisa K. Marranzino. The author of Happiness on the Blue Dot (2019) has been in private practice for two decades and brings firsthand knowledge of the virus to the table: Following a trip to Moab in the summer of 2020, Marranzino, her husband and two of their three adult children were diagnosed with it. Each has recovered. B Y J O A N N E D A V I D S O N


Photo: Angelov /

“I don’t want to minimize the problems and suffering COVID has brought, but in broad terms, COVID has forced (the collective) us into making changes that needed to be made. COVID has made us reexamine everything; it has made us look at our lives in fresh new ways, and get better at the work-life balance. It has also brought out a lot of creativity,” Marranzino says. “It does people good to break out of their routines and to enjoy the simple pleasures again,” the therapist says, citing clients who have taken up or resumed hobbies like knitting, painting and playing guitar. A female client came to every appointment with her hair dyed a different color. Another couple is enjoying rides on their new bicycle built for two. Several of those being treated for depression and anxiety are telling her they’re doing OK with the safer-at-home protocols because they’re used to being alone or feeling isolated. They’re finding purpose by teaching their families how to cope. “I’m seeing some very creative ways that we’re giving ourselves a boost,” she adds.

On the bright side Cathie Beck, author of Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship, used her pandemic-related downtime to “lose 20 pounds, get further along in the second book that I am writing, and make improvements in my house. I also enriched my relationship with my boyfriend and helped my grandson get back in school.” “For me,” writes Kim Sporrer, executive director of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, the year 2020 brought “great clarity and the ability to focus on what’s most important to me and my life, to the people around me and to my work.” Sporrer’s statement in Vicky Collins’ hyperlocal journalism site, Bucket List Community Café Northside Denver, also noted: “In some ways, it is a gift. I’ve seen some wonderful acts of kindness, courage and humanity, of people lifting others when the going gets tough. I’ve learned new skills, partially out of necessity but also out of curiosity and desire to grow and thrive in these weird times.”




Whether it’s for improving your physical or mental health, few things beat regular exercise. Dr. Dan Bessesen, director of the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, shares these tips: • Masks change the ratio of risk, so before signing up at a gym, wellness center or workout studio, look to see if everyone—staff and clients—is wearing one, and what kind. Fabric masks are allowed at Anschutz, but no bandanas, gaiters or masks with valves. If people aren’t wearing masks, don’t go there. • We’ve all learned what careful looks like, so make sure there are markings to indicate the physical distances patrons need to maintain. It’s also good to find out how frequently staff cleans the equipment, and if it is OK to bring wipes to sanitize equipment yourself. • Stress can make people want to eat more. Food is rewarding; it makes us feel better. It can also lead to weight gain. Thus, anyone sporting pandemic pounds should think of food in a different way. Develop an awareness of what you eat and why. Be more intentional with your shopping. Pay attention to portion sizes and the types of food you eat. And remember that physical activity is a terrific, and less fattening, way to modulate stress.


Laughter and jigsaw puzzles

Photo: © Alessandro Biascioli /

“2020 will go down as the most humorless year I’ve ever known,” laments Barbara Holland of Denver. “Thankfully I have a particular friend who I laugh uproariously with when we talk on the phone. Afterward I feel refreshed and energized.” Andy Levy, managing director/development for City Year Denver, and his sister, retired teacher Renee Levy, relaxed—and were challenged by—assembling Liberty brand jigsaw puzzles. Dick and Marla Gentry, the former owners of Wesco Fabrics, filled their days by finding new hiking trails and shopping at farmers markets. Susie McMahon, an elite travel concierge, planner and guide with Luxe Lowcountry Travel, established a virtual book club. Alaina Green, associate director of marketing and communications for Jewish Family Service of Colorado, and her husband, Bill, relandscaped their yard and granted their daughters’ longstanding wish of installing a trampoline. “They are loving it,” Alaina reports. When the pandemic brought his globetrotting to a screeching halt, Carlos Martinez, president and chief executive officer of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, compensated by hosting monthly “evenings of adventure,” with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, for his family bubble. He and husband Phillip Danielson would select a country, or a time in history, and then watch documentaries to absorb its history, customs and food. Then they’d decorate their dining room, assemble or create traditional clothing to wear and cook relevant meals. These “visits” to India, Argentina, China and the 1960s, Martinez says, allowed him to “continue my love for learning about different cultures, excite my palate through new flavors, and be inspired to continue my journey of being a global citizen.” Now, with vaccines starting to roll out, it’s looking like hope is on the horizon. Still, as Rose Community Foundation president/CEO Lindy Eichenbaum Lent pointed out in a talk delivered at the National Philanthropy Day’s 2020 virtual awards luncheon, “We know that it’s not about

getting back to normal, because the old normal was not working for everyone. We know it’s about seizing this moment to build a new normal of equity, inclusion, opportunity and abundance.” Joanne Davidson was inspired to write this story after eavesdropping on a conversation where a woman in her senior years was excitedly describing how her daughter had talked her into trying mountain climbing during the pandemic. The woman had summited her first fourteener and was saying that the rush she felt upon reaching the top was “intoxicating.” Joanne figured there must be others who, like this woman, have found peace, fulfillment and joy by engaging in activities they might never have tried otherwise.


Vincent Atchity, president/CEO of Mental Health Colorado, offers these hints for coping with life in the pandemic: • Limit your intake of “doom scrolling,” that is, stories and social media posts about things over which you have no immediate control. Don’t put your head in the sand when it comes to news, but absorb it in small doses. • Get outside and recalibrate. Your exposure to the natural world—sunshine, the ambient sound of nature, the changing seasons—is essential to your wellbeing. • Recognize and maintain your personal therapeutic network. Define your “lifeboat people” and let them know when you need their support. Conversely, if you see someone who you suspect is in need of help, don’t assume someone else is taking care of him or her. Be the one to reach out (because) what we do to preserve those around us is very important.


Photos Courtesy Moda Operandi/ Dan Li Photography

Lauren Santo Domingo co-founded Moda Operandi in 2010 to offer creations online from leading and emerging designers through both in-season sales and trunkshow presales.

Moda Operandi gives early access to luxury collections through online trunk shows and client advisers By Stephanie E. Richards


here’s no denying that the past year has forced us all to reimagine our lives: from how and where we work, to how we view and utilize our home, to how we define ourselves and the luxuries in which we choose to indulge. But at Moda Operandi, an online fashion retailer, reimagination and change has always been at the core of the company’s values. Founded in New York City in 2010 by Lauren Santo Domingo, Moda Operandi has revolutionized the way clients interact with fashion and designers and ultimately how they shop for themselves. “Lauren really wanted to take the fashion from the runway to the clients,” says Danielle Chock, 34, a private client adviser for the company. “She would see these magnificent fashion shows, but the stores would not have an accurate representation of the show. At Moda, we work directly with the designers. Clients can partner with Moda to watch the fashion shows online and then preorder those pieces through our online trunk shows. We help designers identify top looks and pieces in sizes that our clients really want to buy.” The trunk shows last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, when clients can preview collections

and preorder pieces by putting down a 50 percent deposit on items. “Lauren was really the first to get the idea of the trunk show and the preorder out there to the public,” Chock says. “The whole thrill of it is being on the cutting edge of fashion.” Chock has worked for Moda Operandi for more than two years but has always specialized in the luxury market. She graduated on 12/12/12 with a master’s degree in international business management from the University of Bologna, Italy, where she parlayed her degree and fluency in Italian to land a sales job at Italian jewelry store Buccellati in Aspen. Over the course of the next eight years, she worked for Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Tesla before finding her home with Moda Operandi.

Lauren really wanted to take the fashion from the runway to the clients.” Brandon Maxwell colorblock windowpane cotton shirt dress, $1,790


Born and raised in Woody Creek, Colorado, and currently living in Basalt, she serves as the company’s representative in the Central West but has clients as far-flung as Mexico and Italy whom she contacts regularly through WhatsApp. “I was offered the remote stylist role [at Moda Operandi], and it was my dream to live in Aspen and work with remote clients and designers,” Chock says. “It doesn’t get much better than that.” We sat down with the private client advisor for a question-and-answer session to better understand her unique services and the company that has truly redefined the virtual shopping experience. Tell us about your role within the company and why our readers would benefit from working with you. My services are complimentary, so it’s like having your own stylist to help really tailor the experience to you. As we are going through this pandemic, it’s nice to have this personal connection. I give my cell [phone number] to everyone. You don’t have to spend a certain amount to get assigned a client advisor. You can just ask to have one. We want to have a personal touch and interact as much as people want to interact with us. Victoria Beckham sweater, $690, and jeans, $565; Proenza Schouler leather Chelsea boots, $795

I send clients updates and exclusive promotions; I send information on sales before they go public so you have the opportunity to shop before everyone else is shopping. If I look at how I shop, I’m not confined to a certain style. Your fashion can vary based on your mood, the weather, the seasons or your friends. I heard from a client the other day who had received my emails and said she was really impressed by whatever algorithm I was using because she always liked my shopping suggestions. I said, “Well, that’s me. I look at your history and your shopping and give you a tailor-made experience.” That’s what makes us unique.

It’s like having your own stylist to help really tailor the experience to you. 52 COLORADOEXPRESSION.COM FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021 Khaite cashmere cardigan, $1,540

Tell us about the Colorado client and what it is like to shop for her? I love the Colorado clients, because we really get to shop for the four seasons instead of just, say, a client in Miami who is only shopping for warm weather. There is a really cool aesthetic in Colorado. We have a really fashion-forward woman who puts a lot of care into her appearance, but she’s also really athletic and goes all the time. She is very involved in her community and gets to plan for great events. You can tell a Colorado girl because she shops intelligently. She shops for her day-to-day life but also for where she is traveling. You wouldn’t say, “Oh, that girl is from Colorado,” you’d just say, “Oh, that girl looks fantastic.”

looking into. It has good traction on the soles but still looks good. I invest in pieces that are going to be higher quality and are going to fit really well. I’ve never regretted buying something that I love. Stephanie E. Richards has a master’s degree in journalism and has written and edited for various newspapers and magazines in Colorado. She is also a nationally competitive equestrian who operates a private horse facility in Greenwood Village.

Who are some of your most popular designers? Johanna Ortiz is one of our company’s darlings. Brandon Maxwell is huge because [his clothes] are very easy, but he is a sexy and sophisticated designer who sells for women. No matter where you go or who you are meeting, you will be dressed well in his pieces. Gabriela Hearst and Victoria Beckham are great for our girls because they both have an elevated denim look with beautiful coats and sweaters. During COVID, we have had interactive Zoom calls with various designers where they could talk about their collections and clients could ask questions. Victoria [Beckham] did one from her home. We are working on doing interactive experiences since we can’t do as much in-person at the moment. What is currently in your shopping cart? The Bottega Veneta Padded Cassette bag has been on fire. It’s made from beautiful, supple leather that you just want to squeeze. Proenza Schouler does a great boot as well that I’m

Proenza Schouler faux leather stretch boots, $975; Johanna Ortiz botanical heritage printed crepe midi dress, $1,350

The Details: Email Danielle Chock: Purchases can also be made directly from

Bottega Veneta Padded Cassette bag, $2,800



The Mighty Five

Do a deep dive into Utah’s national parks with a personalized private tour By Jordan Martindell


THE DETAILS Mighty 5 Signature Tour Moab, UT 435-259-1565

10-Day Private Tour $1,000/day for groups up to 4 (rates don’t include lodging or dinners) $200/day for additional participants Due to COVID-19, as of press time Mike Coronella is running private tours out of one location, The Cliffrose Inn in Springdale. All guests must self-quarantine for a week before the tour and safety protocols are being used extensively.


Taking in the view at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.

this concentration of national parks, Utah has made a name for itself with regards to these treasures that make up more than 1,300 square miles of the state’s public land. There are many ways to experience Utah’s five national parks, but this time, instead of fighting the crowds on Zion’s shuttle bus or schlepping gear from campsite to campsite, I was traveling with the Mighty 5 Signature Tour, which promised unforgettable,


Photo: @nickbrownco

AS I GOT READY TO BOARD OUR small, Pilatus PC-12 aircraft headed to Moab from Denver, I was struck by firsts. It was my first time traveling on a small plane, first time away from my daughter for more than three days, first time traveling solo while seven months pregnant and, most notably, first time seeing some of Utah’s national parks. It’s one of the things I love most about travel— there are bound to be firsts. I had driven through Moab multiple times, but only stayed there once—and shamefully had never visited the parks that surrounded this quirky and charming city. But this time, my sole purpose of traveling to this part of the country was to experience the wonder of Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks: Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef. The only state with

personalized park experiences, all within the comfort of high-end properties and fine dining. It occurred to me that it might also be the first time I experienced a national park in a luxury setting. So I buckled up, got comfy, and anxiously waited for what was coming on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. When we deplaned at Moab’s tiny airport, our host and trip leader Mike Coronella greeted us—his dark

Photo: @nickbrownco


Hoodoos in the snow at Bryce Canyon National Park.



Photo: Mike Coronella / Deep Desert Expeditions


Photos: @nickbrownco

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky District.

Hiking the narrows at Zion, left, and a view of the Virgin River, which runs through the park.



brown eyes rich with wisdom from what can only be a life of adventure. His assistant Logan (a young Errol Flynn look-alike with piercing blue eyes and a tall lanky frame), added quite the contrast to Coronella’s shorter stature, and as I took in this quirky and unlikely pair of adventurers, I could feel my trust in them growing along with my excitement for the trip to begin. Over the following week, I was humbled, surprised and delighted by what the tour for our group of six entailed. We covered an incredible amount of ground to unseen places in the national parks. And while we did check off the boxes (like seeing Delicate Arch in Arches and The Narrows in Zion), Coronella knew the terrain so well that the tour provided the almost unattainable experience of witnessing the beauty of the parks in a solitary way. To feel the awe and beauty of those wild places is truly best when not surrounded by hordes of people. And while many tours offer the promise of this type of experience, few have the knowledge and experience to deliver on such a promise. The food was an unexpected perk of this tour as many small adventure towns haven’t quite caught up with the modern culinary scene. While all of our meals were delicious and satisfying, one meal stood out as a truly unimagined experience. After a day of exploring Capitol Reef National Park, we embarked on a dinner outing to Boulder. This tiny town situated between Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park was hard to get to, but well worth every mile. Our final destination, Hell’s Backbone Grill, appeared in warm shadows of evening light, setting the stage for what is still one of the best meals I have ever had. We dined on multiple courses of fresh, local, creative comfort food that left us wishing for larger stomachs and sent us back to our lodging with an after-dinner

Photo: @nickbrownco


Capitol Reef’s stunning vistas are even more beautiful when experienced in a solitary way.

glow that would last many days. Where we rested our heads was as diverse as the parks themselves. At quaint bed and breakfasts with private gardens, stunning mountain lodges with elk heads mounted on the walls, and modern inns with all the conveniences for weary travel ers, comfort came second only to ambiance. Along with Coronella’s wisdom came his connection to these places and the people who ran them. Each innkeeper and hotel manager welcomed us with familial arms and splendid smiles. The highlight of the tour was our guide. Coronella peppered each panoramic drive, lunch stop, and scenic hike with the wealth of information that is ingrained in his every bone. His factoids and trivia filled the many miles and we listened and laughed

while he shared adventure stories, folk tales and local lore. Reflecting on my flight back to Moab, it was hard to believe that in only 10 days, we covered such an incredible amount of ground, made such treasured friendships, and learned so very much about Utah’s diverse and captivating landscapes. The substance of this trip was truly special, and while this was my first comprehensive tour of Utah’s Mighty Five, it will certainly not be the last. After growing up in California and years of East Coast city living, Jordan Martindell moved to Boulder. Martindell blends her love of aesthetics and the outdoors, documenting adventures that are delicious, exciting and sometimes unexpected. She has written for Dorado Magazine, Elevation Outdoors Magazine, Outdoor Retailer Magazine and




Shop Class for Grownups MADE Wkshop encourages creativity while teaching the art of working with metal, wood and mixed media By Danielle Yuthas . Photography by MADE Wkshop


ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES: DENVER’S old-school shop class with a modern, fun and social twist is firing up the blowtorches and power tools. Hands-on classes in the industrial arts, including woodworking and welding, are led by local artists and guides at MADE Wkshop in LoHi. All levels of ability are welcome to learn in a friendly environment that is not intimidating for beginners nor frustrating for those who have dabbled. MADE Wkshop was founded by Diane Nagler, a seasoned public relations and marketing executive, and Christopher Oar, creative director and renowned artist, sculptor, painter, furniture maker and jewelry designer. Oar is working on commercial interior design builds and product lines and is now bringing his talents to the community as a teacher at MADE Wkshop. Nagler describes it as a place to “exercise your creative side and learn a new skill in an interactive, luxury experience.” After two years in the planning stages, MADE Wkshop opened in February 2020, only 27 days before the first shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to pivot, MADE Wkshop started selling kits that clients could use to make

THE DETAILS MADE Wkshop 2900 Zuni St. Denver, CO 80211 720-551-7395


Diane Nagler teamed up with artist Christopher Oar to found MADE Wkshop.

items such as a lending library and a planter box, but soon realized that DIY was not a fit for the business model because the creative exploration experience is essential. In the downtime, a line of furniture from Oar was featured at Modern Nomad with a goal of offering unique pieces, geared to turn the home more comfortable and personal. When safely allowed to reopen, MADE Wkshop focused on private lessons for small groups geared toward those in the same household, and over the holidays offered parties for small, private groups. Luckily, the format was inherently conducive to safety and social distancing with metal shop and wood shop stations already 6 feet apart.


Every client receives personal work gloves to take home and goggles that are sanitized between sessions, which ensures a safe experiential outing for families and small groups. Many of the courses are geared for those aged 18 and up for safety reasons but there are courses designed for teens to participate in with their families. The class on making copper bowls, for example, involves a blowtorch, a tree stump, and lighting copper on fire, and the whole family can bang out anxiety together. “We are truly grateful. If we can bring a little joy and have someone forget their problems for three hours, it’s worth it,” Nagler said. The most popular class, and prerequisite to other classes, is Dice


Dice Baby, part of the fundaMETALS series, which is an introduction to welding. Students make their own art in the form of dice. Other popular courses include Planter’s Paradise, in which attendees construct geometric tabletop planters of steel; and Red Red Wine (Rack), in which participants build a rack to hold six or 12 bottles of wine. In the woodMADE series, courses include options to create a biscuit box for your dog, a bird house, a carved bowl and more. In mixedMADE, course attendees work with not only wood and metal but also concrete, textiles, upcycled materials and more to create anything from chess sets and skee ball lanes to bar carts. Private groups and corporate offices also can work together in a private class to make a custom artifact for the home or office. For those on board with the artistic spirit but vision beyond their current skill set, there is a Get it MADE option to have a custom design project created for residential or commercial spaces. Clients can select from a collection of fire pits,

Students learn to use power tools during classes.

sculptures, light fixtures and more. Social responsibility is central to MADE Wkshop’s core values through giving back a portion of sales to charitable causes. Most recently, Urban Peak was the beneficiary in a mission to end youth homelessness. The causeMADE series is an alternative to the make-and-take options, where course attendees learn a new skill while

MADE Wkshop classes offer individuals and groups opportunities to learn skills and ignite new interests.

making items to donate to a local nonprofit. A new project is selected quarterly and courses are tailored to the needs of the organization. Private courses also are available in which a group or corporation selects its own beneficiary cause and works with MADE Wkshop to develop a course to provide what the nonprofit of choice would find useful. Each student feels a sense of accomplishment when he or she leaves, which Nagler likened to watching a kindergarten class because there is profound excitement in trying something for the first time. “That look on every single student’s face when they leave with the project is the coolest thing to watch,” she said. Nagler and Oar are people with true passion who are helping others to find their passion. Nagler recounted a story of one student who took an introduction to welding class on a date night and eventually parlayed it into owning welding equipment and using it to build a deck at his home. New interests are being ignited in each class. Despite the challenges that affected MADE Wkshop related to COVID-19, the company’s mission is not slowing down any time soon. Private courses are available for small groups and community offerings will expand as it becomes safe to do so. Nagler is planning to have fun events and will introduce a membership model to turn clients’ creative outlets into a monthly habit. If you are looking to unplug from the distractions of technology and learn to create something meaningful while connecting with your inner creativity and your community, visit MADE Wkshop. You might even surprise yourself. Danielle Yuthas is a senior director of marketing for national franchise brand, SpeedPro. A Denver native, a creative and a millennial, she is an experiential art enthusiast and supports local businesses.




Keeping it Wild Kenyan safari offers big-game closeups as well as immersion in conservation efforts and local cultures

Photo: Borana Lodge

By Len Goldstein


Rhinos roam In the Borana Conservancy, where the species is protected.

THE DETAILS Outside GO The luxury adventure travel company offers trips to more than 50 countries. 400 N. Market St. Santa Fe, NM 887501 888-870-0903


MY MEMORIES OF AFRICA REMAIN vivid. There was the morning I awoke to snorting hippos wallowing in the river just below our riverside camp. I can still smell the sweet grass of the Masai Mara, and saw a leopard drag her meal up a tree to safety. And you don’t soon forget being nuzzled by a baby pachyderm in an elephant sanctuary. To paraphrase Montana-based artist John Banovich, appreciating wild lands and wildlife should lift our


minds, replenish our spirits and renew our passion for living, and that’s what we experienced during a twoweek trip to Kenya last year before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. It’s also a perfect description of what travel should do for you. Our wildlife safari combined the exhilaration of a bit of strenuous activity with an adventure of learning about conservation and the respect we should have for all of the species with whom we share our planet. Equally valuable


not to waste precious time in transit or border crossings to other countries. The trip cost was packaged to include travel, meals and lodging. Our first stop was The Emakoko Hotel in the Nairobi National Park, a 30-minute ride from the airport. The park is a huge expanse of savannah, with all of the major animal groups, many of which we got to view while driving the park in a Range Rover. Our first dinner was a traditional Kenyan feast with beef and local vegetables. We left early the next morning for the local airport, along the way spotting elephants, giraffes and a sauntering lioness looking for her next meal.

A room with a view in the Borana Lodge; a lunch spread; sunset cocktails.

was gaining insight into various tribal cultures through the efforts of experienced and knowledgeable guides. My wife, Martha, and I have been lucky enough to have spent most of our adult lives in Colorado and have always been active. Individually or together, we have been backcountry ski guides; skied the state’s many resorts; hiked or ridden horses throughout Colorado (and played polo); and walked most of the Highline Canal. Along the way, we would be inspired by reading adventure magazines, but we no longer seek an adrenaline rush from physical activity during travel— which is why a safari in Kenya was appealing. The word “safari” in Swahili means “journey” and ours was magnificently organized by Sandy Cunningham and the brilliant team at Outside GO. Sandy, a native South

African, worked closely with us—and our Australian traveling companions Lisa and David—to maximize the experience. We opted to keep our trip only in Kenya, for example, so as

After a short flight in a 12-passenger twin-engine plane, we landed in the airport serving the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. We were picked up by Ben, the guide who would lead us for the next four days. A member of the Turkana tribe, Ben spoke perfect English and proved to be an expert in all things flora and fauna, as well as the local culture. Our destination was Borana Lodge, located in the highlands at an elevation of 6,500 feet northeast of Mount Kenya. The lodge is located on a private land conservancy that is part of the larger northern trust conservancies. These privately owned conser-

The itinerary includes seeing wildlife from horseback on the land conservancy.


Photo: Borana Lodge

Photos: Borana Lodge

Safari on horseback


A Grevey’s zebra and foal.

Open-sided accommodations at Sarara Camp.

Photo: Sarara Camp

vancies benefit not only the wildlife but also the local people. Borana was founded by the Dyer family, which has established a community of area residents as well as foreign investors to conserve their land. The lodge has a series of cabins spaced apart to maximize the views. The roomy cabins have hot water and electricity, and we shared the front porch with a family of small monkeys that were most interested in any meal we might have on the deck. As for our meal with the other guests, it was served in a common

Visitors take in the view from a sitting area over a pond at the Sarara Camp.



dining hall and was a delicious seven-course affair with a carefully chosen wine for each course. The next morning, we visited the farm where the food served at the lodge is grown. Run by the passionate third-generation Dyer, Peter, the farm was established 60 years ago by his grandmother. All of the meat served also comes from the herds that the conservancy raises. A horseback safari was on the schedule for the following day. As we were mounting up, we were told that lions would not attack a mounted rider. (The horses were relying on that, but I wondered who checked in with the lions.) We rode Kenyan thoroughbreds through the hilly

Photo: Sarara Camp

Photo: Borana Lodge


plains, at one point coming near a white rhino with a calf happily grazing in the belly-high grass. Fortunately, the Kenyan lore about lions and horses proved true. On our last day, we stalked rhinos on foot, accompanied by an armed ranger. We approached a white rhino and got about 50 yards away. White rhinos are said to not be aggressive. While their eyesight is poor, their hearing and sense of smell is quite good. This rhino let us approach and back away without twitching an ear. Later that morning, still on foot, we came upon a black rhino which by reputation is much crankier. We kept a large bush between us.

Photo: Mara Plains Camp


From a tree in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, a lion keeps watch.

Elephant encounters

Sarara over the last 20 years have restored many nearly extinct animals back to robust numbers. It is on mostly tribal land and operated in conjunction with the local tribe, the Samburu. Our stay included a visit

Photo: Mara Plains Camp

It was about an hour by air to our second camp, Sarara, which is part of the northern conservancies We were picked up by Peter, our guide, and learned conservation efforts at

Conservation efforts are helping preserve elephants and other species in Kenya.

to a native Samburu village, where the residents were gracious and proudly showed us around. The highlight of the Sarara camp was a visit to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. It has successfully rescued more than 20 baby elephants, returning three, 3-year-olds back to their native habitats and herds. It was uplifting to see a herd of baby elephants rumbling into the stockade for their daily bottle of formula and then have them come to you for a pet and scratch. Our time at the orphanage was spent with Dorothy, the highest-ranking female officer. A member of the Samburu tribe, she was a knowledgeable and welleducated guide. Our stay was highlighted by a short bush plane ride to the airfield. The plane could only hold three people, so the pilot made two trips. We flew over herds of elephants and giraffes, which from a view above is stunning. The



Guides such as Daniel, from the Masai tribe, explain wildlife and culture to visitors.

Photo: Mara Plains Camp


One afternoon while in Land Cruisers we came upon a pride of 20 lions, females and juveniles lounging about in the mid-afternoon sun. The lions have grown up with Land Cruisers, intruding on their afternoon activities, but humans outside the vehicles become prey. Our guide, Jackson, could spot a lion 100 yards off from the flick of its ears. He sighted a leopard in a distant tree that we had to have binoculars to view. On one of our morning game drives, we saw a cheetah running across the plains followed at some distance by two lionesses. The cheetah escaped with her prized prey. We also saw all of the big cats, elephants,

plane flew at about 60 miles per hour, not much faster than the gazelles we could see running below.


Luxury accommodations and lodges await safari guests.

Photo: Mara Plains Camp

Our last camp was in the Masai Mara, on the Kenyan side of the Serengeti. Our guide was Jackson, a high-schooleducated Masai born on the Mara and an expert on the national game reserve. The Mara consists of Masai tribal lands, part of which have been put into national reserves or private conservancies. The Mara Plains camp made me think of an Ernest Hemingway safari. The camp was created by filmmakers and conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert. Accommodations were in the fanciest tent I have ever experienced. With wooden floors, hot water, electricity, plush robes and copper bathtubs, I finally understood the term “glamping.” The Mara is millions of acres of grasslands famous for the vast migrations of grazing animals like the wildebeests and hartebeests, zebra, buffalo, warthogs and every form of antelope, all of which roam freely. Predatory animals are also present, including lions, leopards and cheetahs. Because of the unusually wet year, the grasses were tall and thick; the roads were often running rivers.

The Masai Mara is famous for its vast migrations of grazing animals such as giraffes.


Photo: Mara Plains Camp

Vast migrations

rhinos, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, cape buffaloes, hippos, alligators and members of the antelope family. The safari was amazing. While we didn’t blaze new trails, climb to great heights, ski until our knees ached, ride until saddle sore or run to exhaustion, we had an adventure which broadened our minds and made us ever-grateful for what we experienced: a trip of a lifetime. A longtime lawyer in general practice, Goldstein served on the Greenwood Village parks and trails commission working to preserve the High Line Canal trail as well as the community’s other parks and trails.