Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Steamboat Springs Jacques Wilson, who makes mouth-watering croque madame, created from sourdough bread, gruyere cheese, lingonberry sauce, smoked pepper turkey and a parmesan cheese butter, still holds his mother's meatloaf as one of his favorite dishes.
He says cooking may begin with the basics but can become a complex and engrossing life-long passion.
Wilson, executive chef at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, was named Monday night as the top chef in Colorado by the Colorado chapter of the American Culinary Federation. He now could be in the running for honors as the top chef in the western region if he applies next year. If he wins that award, he could be named the greatest chef in the nation.
"I enjoy cooking everything from soup to pastries," said Wilson, standing in a kitchen Tuesday overwhelmed by enticing breakfast-time aromas.
He was surprised Tuesday morning by the staff at the Sheraton with a round of applause and a three-foot trophy with a smiling chef on top, which he will keep for a year and then give to the next winner.
Wilson won the award not just for his tasty cooking, but for his service to the community and his legacy of teaching, said Joan Brewster, the executive director of the Colorado chapter of the American Culinary Federation.
Wilson, who is on the federation's board, was named by the full membership of the state culinary federation on Monday night, meaning he was elected by other chefs, Brewster said.
"That's why the award is held in such high esteem, because it's given by their peers," Brewster said.
Wilson, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and used to work for Vista Verde Guest Ranch in North Routt, said he enjoys many different aspects of his job. And much of his work occurs outside of the kitchen.
Wilson teaches about cooking and nutrition to elementary school students in Steamboat Springs, stressing the importance of eating a balanced diet.
He loves it all "to be able to share the knowledge, to cook and get enjoyment out of people eating and enjoying food," he said.