Elizabeth Woessner | 04/09/2014 Food And Dining

On April 7, I had the pleasure of taking a class at The Seasoned Chef Cooking School with one of my favorite Denver chefs, Jamey Fader of Lola. I knew immediately that the class was going to be interesting when one of the students proclaimed that she couldn’t cook at all, while another was describing the yak pastrami she made at home.  How do you create a class when students are polar opposites in their skill level? Chef Fader seamlessly took command of the kitchen and everyone had fun and learned something.

Chef Dan Witherspoon, owner of the Seasoned Chef started The Denver/Boulder Best Chef Series as a way to introduce his students to the array of culinary talent found in local restaurants. “Chefs are passionate people and it’s that passion for both ingredients and techniques that they pass on to their students,” says Witherspoon.

A longtime Seasoned Chef student, Chris Deverell, has been taking classes since 2009 and is quite addicted to it. “I try, without much success, to limit myself to two classes a month,” she explains. Having already taken all of Chef Dan’s basic skills classes, Chris has mastered knife skills, sautéing, roasting, grilling, sauces, and pastry techniques, and now devotes her class time to the Top Chef Series and other classes that pique her interest.

As the Culinary Director for LolaJax Fish HouseZolo GrillCentro Latin KitchenThe Bitter BarThe West End Tavern, and The Post Brewing Company, it is amazing that Chef Fader finds the time to teach classes. “I love inspiring people by showing them that recipes are simply guidelines and should not be taken too seriously. My hope is that people who take the class will go out to eat, taste a dish they love, and be courageous enough to go home and try to recreate it, play with it, and make it their own,” says Chef Fader.

Under Fader’s watchful eye, we chopped, roasted, grilled, fried, sautéed, boiled, whipped, and pickled our way through a seven dish menu, while sipping on wine, laughing, and learning. Then we ate!  The menu consisted of:

  • Lola’s signature guacamole

  • Pan-roasted baby octopus

  • Chorizo and scallops with charred tomatoes, roasted chiles, and pickled garlic

  • Fluke ceviche with pineapple mojo and plantain chips, seared sea bass with yam hash, and coconut shrimp with de árbol chile hot sauce

  • Key lime pie bars with whipped cream

My favorite was the pan roast of octopus, chorizo, and scallops. It sounded complicated but was, in fact, quite simple. Here it is for you to try.


Pan Roast of Baby Octopus, Chorizo, and Scallops with Charred Tomatoes, Roasted Chiles, and Pickled Garlic

serves 4 to 6


Pickled Garlic:

  • 1 c. Champagne vinegar

  • 1/3 c. sugar

  • 2 Tbsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 12 cloves whole garlic

  • Pan Roast of Baby Octopus:

  • 6-8 baby octopus

  • 6 c. water

  • 1 lemon, halved

  • 6 cloves smashed garlic

  • 4 dried chiles de árbol

  • 8 oz. bulk chorizo

  • 8 U10 scallops, foot removed

  • 1 white onion, charred until dark, small diced

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, oiled and grilled until charred

  • 2 roasted poblanos, peeled, seed, and diced

  • 2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced

  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano

  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro

  • pickled garlic (above)

  • lime wedges, for garnish


For the pickled garlic: In a saucepan heat all ingredients except garlic. Bring to a boil and add garlic. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow garlic to cool in liquid. Once cool, strain liquid and reserve garlic.

For the octopus: Preheat oven to 350–degrees. Rinse and remove beaks from octopus. In saucepan add water, half a lemon, smashed garlic, and dried chiles. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook for 15 minutes. Allow octopus to cool in water. Once cool, remove from water and retain.

Place chorizo on a baking pan and cook for 10 minutes. Cut into half-inch cubes and retain some of the fat. Raise heat to 400-degrees. Season scallops liberally with salt. On a hot, lightly oiled pan, sear scallops on one side until crust forms. Set aside.

In large sauté pan, heat and add 4 tablespoon olive oil. Sear octopus and chorizo. Add onions, tomatoes, roasted peppers, and herbs. Shake pan to settle ingredients together, but do not stir. Add scallops and place pan in oven for 10 minutes. Add pickled garlic and garnish with lime wedge.