Kevin Willmann was honeymooning in Mexico when he got the news...the chef/owner of Farmhaus restaurant had been chosen as one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs for 2011. A round of cervezas for the bar, please.
The news became official just a short time ago...Willmann is the first local chef to garner the award since Gerard Craft did so back in 2008. Nine other chefs share the "Best New" stage with him this year.
Congratulations on your marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Willmann...and kudos on that little award as well.
The 52-seat Farmhaus has been a tough table since it opened in the spring of last year. And when the P-D's Evan Benn and Joe Bonwich connected F&W's dots last night, hinting that Willmann was in fact a winner, Eric Scholle's phone "has not stopped buzzing. I was sure it had short-circuited," half-joked the familiar face and GM at Farmhaus.
Willmann is lucky he got that honeymoon in as F&W keeps its awardees busy. Alex Seidel, chef/owner of Fruition in Denver, a Best New Chef winner in 2010, recalled several memorable cooking stints: at the F&W Classic in Aspen last summer, a "Harvest Trip" to Napa in August, and a two-week cruise to Australia in January. "All they wanted me to do on board was two, 45 minute cooking demos," remembered Seidel, "They even had other chefs doing my prep. It was like, 'can I at least cut up some carrots?'"
Alex's wife, Melissa, saw a bigger picture. "At the time, we did not realize what a big deal this was...you instantly become a member of Food & Wine's family. They continue to open doors and ask for Alex's help and participation in all kinds of events. It totally changed his life, our lives. It was an invaluable award...you tell your friend Kevin that this will be the beginning of the rest of his life."
We're more than happy to do that, Melissa.