Trillium restaurant owner Ryan Leinonen was enjoying his day off when his cell phone interrupted his day at home.
“I almost didn’t answer the phone but I saw the call was from New York and thought I’d better answer it,” Leinonen said Wednesday. That was a good move.
“She said this is so and so from the James Beard House. Would you…” The chef-owner with Scandinavian culinary roots barely remembers the rest of the conversation. In the end, he was invited to cook at the ionic home on Nov. 11. To practice for the coveted appearance, Leinonen and his team replicated the five-course dinner they will serve for tony New Yorkers Wednesday night at the Ballpark restaurant.
Attendees were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of how Leinonen interprets what Scandinavia has to offer paired with wine selected by Trent Shaoul of B Town Wine & Spirits.
Stand-outs included the cauliflower soup with dill pistou paired with San Lorenzo Gavi 2013; beets and burrata with roasted red beets, pickled yellow beets and raw slivered two-tone beets paired with Domaine Cheysson Chiroubles 2012, the pan-seared Muscovy duck breast with a to-die-for root vegetable and horseradish gratin paired with Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Cuvee de Lopy Vacqueyras 2008 and the spiced cheesecake with gingersnap crumble paired with bodegas Dios Baco Baco de Elite Oloroso N/V.
Leinonen and his team fly into New York several days before the Nov. 11 dinner when the chef will treat his team to dinner at the legendary Le Bernardin. Leinonen made the reservation four months in advance and was required to pay for the entire prix fixe meal prior to dining there.
This is not Leinonen’s first Beard House rodeo. As sous chef at The Kitchen in Boulder, he accompanied chef Hugo Matheson.