Chefs Club, in the St Regis, has hosted chefs from every corner of the globe in its rotating-cuisine concept. This summer, head chef Tom Coohill has a much shorter commute. He is the executive chef and owner of Coohills, the only restaurant directly on Cherry Creek, in Denver. Tom and his wife and business partner Diane have established a family atmosphere among unique, thought-out, top-tier French cuisine. The pair bring that homey vibe with a curated Aspen menu to Chefs Club this summer, and are partnering with the prestigious Park90 wine lounge based out of Singapore to round out their beverage offerings.
Tom Coohill uses a lot of music metaphors, and his laid-back style, dark rimmed glasses and shoulder-length gray hair play in to his rocker vibe.
“You know French food is like if you learn to play classical guitar you can play Van Halen,” he said.
His menu includes shared boards, a selection of house-made pâtés, sausages, seafood terrines, and a five, seven or 10 course chef’s tasting menus. Everything is made in-house, including the breads and crackers that come along with the boards.
Most importantly to Coohill, “everything has flavor.”
Though it’s summertime, signature items like the raclette sausage — oozing with the cheese from the inside, chicken liver mousse pate — made entirely with pork fat, not butter, and the brandade — a salt cod and mashed potato dip, would be just as appropriate after a long day of skiing Serre Chevalier.
The summer pop-up brought the gang back together, so to speak, for the Coohills. Former employees who have since moved to other restaurants throughout the country are all here to help with the restaurant management, bar menu, and administrative work.
Diane Coohill may get all the credit for this one. She may have high standards, but she leads by example in her quest for perfection. She emphasizes connections and the local community. The Coohills visit Aspen every summer, and you're more likely to find Diane in running clothes, besting her time on the trails, then dolled up at a soiree. Since the pop-up was announced, she has made it her mission to visit all the businesses in the core and introduce herself. Apart from her imported management team, all positions were filled by locals, including the sommelier. There is a bar menu and happy hour in an effort to include locals in both the vibe and price point.
“There’s a bar menu served all night long because we are really trying to cater to local people, I think that’s important,” said Diane Coohill. “And that’s how we like to eat, go to the bar and order some food.”
While at the bar diners will find ultra-local flavors. Bar manager Alexis Hardy has already gotten to work in the St. Regis courtyard garden, making simple syrups out of the many herbs that thrive on the patio and incorporating them in her cocktails. Chef, too, is using the produce he can get from the local Roaring Fork Valley farmers.
The Park90 name refers to the more than 90 rated wines available to diners, including a 23-year vertical lineup of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, made available directly from the chateau for the summer pop-up.
Frequenters to Chef’s Club will note the layout feels familiar, and big structural snowflakes still adorn the ceiling from EMP Winter House, last season’s guest pop-up. However, for the summer, the Coohills brought in custom pieces by Colorado artist Brad Evans, who has made tables and serving boards out of repurposed wine barrels, giving the space a natural, warm feel. The patio is open throughout service too, for those who want to dine with a touch of fresh mountain air.
Park90 + Chef Tom Coohill officially opens for service tonight and will be in place throughout the summer season. And, says Diane with a slight smile, maybe beyond that.