Taste Private Chef Co. originally opened in January 2003,
nestled in a quaint court in Kerrytown as a restaurant offering
dine-in service and gourmet take-out, in addition to private
catering. Opening his own restaurant has been a dream in the making
for Chef Woody Thomas who spent a number of years in Aspen working
under top chefs — a dream that finally reached fruition last
year.

Kate Green
Eugene Robertson/Daily
Thomas works his culinary genius with his gourmet take-out meals.

Faced with a number of challenges, including staffing issues
that made sustaining his budding business nearly impossible, Thomas
was forced to reevaluate his plan. Since he couldn’t maintain
his restaurant, he got out of the business — at least for a
while. Thomas had closed his dining room in October, but continued
to cater parties while he restructured and unrelentlessly prepared
to open, again. After a three-month re-organizational hiatus, a
very gregarious Thomas reopened his doors on Monday.

Thomas’ personal philosophy on food is simple.
“Enjoyment,” he says, “When I write my menus and
do different things, I like it to be an experience. I like to start
from one direction, and by the time you get to the end,
you’re fulfilled with happiness and excitement from each
course.”

His dream and beliefs about food come together in a small
house-turned restaurant with an intimate dining area. The few small
tables are clustered near the giant front windows framed with blue
curtains, which although illuminating, proved to be quite drafty on
the bitterly cold winter afternoon.

I cruelly showed up on Monday, the first day that Taste had
reopened for dining-room service. Three friends and I joined two
regulars who had eagerly awaited the reopening of Taste. Just as
seating was arranged for us, Thomas popped out of the kitchen to
warn us that he was in the midst of a catering order and that it
might be about 20 minutes before we could eat. For once in my life,
my curiosity managed to outlast my insatiable hunger, and I
convinced my friends that lunch would be worth the wait.

After ordering our beverages, we surveyed the menu with
devouring eyes. Breakfast or lunch? Both were still being served at
2:30 in the afternoon. One side of the menu reveals very
traditional options of breakfast, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, toast,
omelets and a number of more interesting specials plates, including
a breakfast burrito. The flip side boasts a selection of soups,
salads and cold and hot deli sandwiches.

Despite my weakness for a good omelet, the roasted red pepper
cilantro grilled-chicken sandwich was too tempting, and I had to
indulge myself. Unable to completely abandon my hankering for
breakfast, I substituted hash browns for chips or fries.

As we chatted away, awaiting our food, our server arrived with a
complimentary appetizer to whet our appetite. Brilliantly
presented, the colorful vegetarian spring rolls were served around
a cascading mound of fried rice-noodles and festooned with a mango
and ginger dipping sauce. The vegetables were crisp and the
powerful ginger provided some much needed warmth for a winter
day.

Lunch arrived, and I was delighted with my sandwich — a
vast improvement upon a boring au naturel grilled chicken sandwich.
Marinated in cilantro, with its fresh and earthy qualities, the
chicken breast was then topped with roasted red peppers, whose
smoky appeal contrasted nicely with the herb-infused chicken, Swiss
cheese, tomato and lettuce, and served on an onion roll. My side of
hash browns were very salty, which, being the self-admitted salt
fiend that I am, made them even more delicious. However, those who
are wary of salt or subscribe to low-sodium diets should beware and
ask for less. Thomas’ homemade potato chips are even better,
but equally salty.

Thomas focuses his creative energies on his gourmet take-out,
where he displays an interesting range of salads, entrees,
vegetable accompaniments and desserts. Though the case was not full
when I visited, a quick read of the menu makes me want to return.
For a tour around the world, Mediterranean potato salad could be
paired with Thai chicken and shrimp stir-fry and au gratin Gruyere
potatoes.

While the word “gourmet” might elicit thoughts of
drawn-out, elaborate dinners, Thomas has a mission to disprove that
notion with his gourmet take-out for those who like to eat but not
to cook.

Taste Private Chef Co.

317 Braun Court

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 8:30
a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Closed Sundays.

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