Jennifer Jasinski is an award-winning chef whose life-long passion for good food and fresh ingredients has led to her resounding success in the restaurant world. From New York to LA and finally to Denver; the opening of Rioja in Larimer Square in 2004 has ensured Jennifer will go down in Coloradan culinary history. We had a little chat with her about all things food related and how this incredible state continues to inspire her. Here’s how it went…
What was it that inspired you to start cooking?
In the beginning, it was just my deep love of food and the pleasure I got out of eating (I was a chubby kid and I just loved to bake). Then we planted a garden and I loved to eat the veggies and fruit off the vine.
Has your passion for cooking been influenced by Denver?
Ultimately, my passion for cooking is inspired by ingredients and in Colorado, we have some amazing ingredients. I have a farmer growing for me and every week I get a mystery basket; it’s a really fun way to create when you don’t know what’s in store.
The people or my guests in the city inspire me too. They inspire me to give them something fresh and new and creative.
If you have a day off from cooking, where do you like to eat in the city?
I like to eat at Sushi Sasa, New Saigon, but there’s nothing better than when my husband cooks me dinner and we eat on the patio.
What’s drawn you to keep cooking in Denver?
Denver is my home. When I moved here in 2000 I don’t think I thought I would move here permanently. In the past I had lived in places for three or four years then moved on. Denver just fit. The people here are great, the weather is great, the dining scene has kept growing and I am so proud to have been a part of it.
As travelers, we (Black Tomato) think Denver is great, but what is that you, a local, love so much about the city?
I love the “outdoors” feel of Denver. I love hiking and mountain biking, I love all the parks and festivals; there is always something to do.
If we land late and want a night cap, where’s a good place to go?
The two best places for a night cap are Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen and Williams and Graham. Euclid serves food all night and, of course, the best beer list in town whilst Williams and Graham has amazing cocktails.
Where is your favorite spot in the city to unwind?
I like a patio with a great cocktail or glass of rose, so Stoic & genuine is the perfect place. I can watch the fountains and kids playing in them. Alternatively, Old Major has a great indoor/outdoor feel.