he Broadmoor's executive pastry chef, Adam Thomas, is full of ideas and has plenty of venues in which to try them.
Take Espresso News, the resort's coffee shop. One of Thomas' goals is to turn it into the go-to place for European-style pastries. And from the looks of his beautiful creations, he's making strides. His take on the French tarte aux fruits is an absolute show-stopper. Commonly, the tarte shell is filled with rich mascarpone cream and juicy berries are piled on top. Thomas takes the topping to another level with seasonal fresh figs and French macaroons in addition to an abundance of berries. It's almost too beautiful to consider eating ... almost.
Thomas also is involved with Ristorante del Lago, the former Charles Court, which will open in the spring and offer rustic, regional Italian cuisine that he learned about after spending five weeks in southern Italy.
"We have picked out a red dessert trolley where we will showcase traditional Italian desserts and biscotti, like panna cotta, tiramisu, bombolini and torta della nonna," he said.
While it would be easier and less expensive to buy sweets and breads from a food service company, there's not a chance of that happening at this five-star, five-diamond resort. As with these two eateries, each of The Broadmoor's eight restaurants has a concept with a different menu, including desserts. (The Broadmoor is owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.)
"We have very clear and distinct concepts for our restaurants, and we want to be as true to the concept as possible," Thomas said. "For example, we have Summit restaurant, which is an upscale American brasserie. We'd never have Italian cannolis here, but rather something like a perfectly made creme brulee or clafoutis."
He is very proud of the diverse types of dining experiences offered. "Guests can stay on the property for several days and have a very different and unique dining experience every night," he said.
Thomas, 32, brings a world of experience to the relatively new position of executive pastry chef. In 2003, after completing his studies at the San Diego Culinary Institute in his home state, he hit the road. He traveled the world, working in cream-of-the-crop hotels and honing his pastry skills. His resume lists some of the finer hotels, including The Capella Singapore Hotel on Sentosa Island, Singapore; The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt in Enniskerry, Ireland; and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in California.
"I have always associated with good brands," he said.
Seven months ago, after holding the executive pastry chef position at the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thomas joined The Broadmoor.
"Property-wide, we have about 42 people in the pastry and baking departments," Thomas said. "I oversee and manage all pastry and baking in the resort's eight restaurants, two caf?, banquets, weddings and room service for the resort's 800 rooms."
There is little downtime, and there's always another good idea around the corner.
"I want to sell cakes at Espresso's," he said. "But I want to have them and the other pastries and desserts we sell to be in special boxes. When you see shoppers at upscale stores in New York or L.A., they are carrying signature bags. If you pay $5,000 for a Rolex, it needs to be put into a box and bag that makes a statement. We're looking at ideas now from a few designers. The boxes will most likely be leather with gold trim."
And there's talk of expanding the Espresso coffee shop area to make way for more of Thomas' award-winning pastries. In the meantime, he will keep busy by constructing a huge gingerbread house for display during the holiday season along with an array of new dessert items for the restaurants.
A Q&A WITH ADAM THOMAS
Question: Six words to describe your food?
Answer: Fresh, seasonal, centered, layered, concept-focused and composed
Q. Ten words to describe you?
A. Persistent, focused, passionate, artistic, energetic, industrious, productive, adventurous, traditional and a leader
Q. Proudest moment as a chef?
A. Representing Northern Europe in a chocolate competition in Germany and then the world finals in Spain.
Q. Favorite ingredient?
Q. Most overrated ingredient?
A. Foie gras, I love it, it's delicious, but I don't need it on my french fries or in my cereal.
Q. Most undervalued ingredient?
Q. Favorite local ingredient?
A. Palisade peaches are delicious.
Q. One food you detest?
A. Canned beets.
Q. Foods you can't live without?
A. Bread, cheese, wine - and peanut butter, of course.
Q. Most embarrassing moment in the kitchen?
A. Overcooking 10 liters of vanilla sauce on my first day at the Ritz-Carlton.
Q. Favorite celebrity chef?
A. I appreciate seeing Emeril Lagasse. He is and was one of the original celeb chefs and he also runs an empire of successful restaurants. Not all celeb chefs can say that. I also follow Christophe Michelak in Paris. Anthony Bordain is a great writer.
Q. What's your favorite knife?
A. A sharp one within reach.
Q. Hardest lesson you've learned?
A. Humility is priceless in this industry.
Q. Best food city in America?
A. New York.
Q. Favorite music to cook by?
A. Oh man, I love music. We don't listen to music in the kitchen, but late at night if I am working on a showpiece or something I will put on a play list that's a little all over the place - old '90s punk, jazz, new electric.
Q. Favorite cookbook?
A. "Au Coeur des Saveurs" by Frederic Bau. It was relevant 12 years ago and is still relevant today.
Q. What show would you pitch to the Food Network?
A. Something pastry-focused. There used to be a show with Jacques Torres that was chocolate-focused. I watched it everyday. Now I don't watch too much Food Network. Locking 10 chefs in a house for several weeks could be a fun show. Like a "Real World Chef" thing.
Q. Weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
A. Balut. A partially developed duck egg that has been boiled alive.
Q. Current Colorado Springs culinary genius?
A. My wife and the chefs at The Broadmoor.
Q. You're making a pizza - what's on it?
A. Tomato sauce, buratta, arugula, olive oil.
Q. You're making an omelette - what's in it?
A. Mushrooms and spinach.
Q. After-work hangout?
A. A walk up Mt. Cutler or Bristol tasting room.
Q. Favorite restaurant other than your own?
A. My wife and I enjoy Euclid Hall Eating House in Denver.