Q&A With A Colorado Star Chef: Eliza Gavin

Colorado.comSeason 10 of "Top Chef" brought a group of cheftestants to Seattle, where Colorado chef Eliza Gavin competed for the title. Her background includes training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and travels through the Caribbean, New Zealand and Australia before settling on Telluride, where she's now the chef/owner of 221 South Oak, a fine-dining destination for New American cuisine and an extensive wine list. We asked about why she chose to cook in Colorado.

Why do you choose to live and cook in Colorado?
While living in France, I met many Colorado kids that were just as fun as fun could be. Upon moving back to the states, I decided Colorado was where I would plant myself.

What defines Colorado's food scene and sets it apart?
Colorado's food scene is super protein heavy. I don't mean just meat. I feel the citizens are so active that we all feel we deserve that huge steak, the egg burrito or an extra slice of vegan chocolate cake. Portions are larger than in New York or LA. People aren't necessarily on a diet but everyone exercises.

Any Colorado food trends to watch out for?
Foraging is huge and it's only growing — pun intended. The weeds are going to complement the abundant mushrooms of the mountains. Amaranth, clover, knotweed, mallow, thistle, dandelion and dock are all weeds that are delicious and contribute to our immune system. The best part is that they are free. Learn to identify the weeds and go to town foraging.

What is your favorite Colorado product to highlight in a dish?
I love using Colorado lamb. 221 changes its menu every season but we always have some lamb creation. Braised shank, lamb T-bones, rack of lamb and sometimes braised with the rack. I love the distinctive flavor of lamb and how nothing else tastes quite like it. Its individuality makes it a playground for pairing.

What are your favorite things to do in Colorado in your free time?
I like to hike, soak in the hot springs, play golf and cross-country ski.

What are your Colorado recommendations for visitors?
Get outside as much as possible. There are going to be super-hard hikes, but just take as long as you need to get up that hill.

Want More?

Read a Q&A with two local cheftestants from this season >>

See recaps from this season, including how to visit the places seen on the show >>