by Merideth Hartung | Apr 16, 2021
Kevin Taylor is one of Denver’s most accomplished and acclaimed chefs, operating a variety of successful restaurants and catering operations.
At Hickory & Ash, Kevin collaborates with his son, Executive Chef & Partner Ryan Taylor, to create hand-crafted, Colorado-centric cuisine. At Masa, Kevin, Ryan and Executive Chef & Partner Frank Blea serve contemporary Mexican fare. Within Denver’s acclaimed Center for the Performing Arts, performance connoisseurs enjoy modern American cuisine at Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House, and pre- and post- theatre fare at Prelude + Post. Although each restaurant’s menu and style offers diners a singular experience, Taylor’s belief in fresh ingredients and beautiful presentation is a common thread throughout all.
Taylor has been cooking since he was 14, beginning as an apprentice chef at Green Gables under the former chef of London’s famed Savoy Hotel. He worked there each weekend throughout high school, learning every intricate detail of how a kitchen functions, and became skilled in Escoffier technique. Following his apprenticeship, Taylor was hired as a sous chef at Colorado’s Cherry Hills Country Club, where he was allowed the creative freedom to create dishes with some of the most unique ingredients available both locally and from around the world, solidifying his passion for fresh, pure flavor profiles.
In 1987, at the age of 25, Taylor opened his first restaurant, Denver’s Zenith American Grill, serving his personal take on southwestern cuisine. Six months after opening, Zenith was among the three top-rated restaurants in the city. Awards and recognition were garnered from local press and more than 25 national media outlets, including Bon Appetit, Restaurant Hospitality, and GQ. Zenith also earned a prized four-star rating, securing Taylor’s place on the culinary map.
Throughout his career, Taylor has been a guest at the James Beard House in New York City, Taste of the NFL, Cakebread Cellars and many other prestigious culinary events, and has won countless awards. Some of his signature dishes, including his famous Smoked Sweet Corn Soup, have become signatures in the industry. While he integrates flavors and ingredients from around the world, and finds contstant inspiration in his frequent travels, he resides in Denver with his wife, and business partner of more than a decade, Denise.
In 1993, Kevin’s one-day wife and business partner, Denise, began working with Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group in an event sales and management role. She became a financial partner in the business with the opening of the beloved Palettes in the Denver Art Museum in 1997, and they were married several years later. Since then, much of Denise’s time with the business has been spent nourishing the city’s arts patrons – for 20 years at Palettes, and 15 at Kevin Taylor’s at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Today, Denise oversees general operations at Hickory & Ash, as well as catering and events throughout the company.
Ryan Taylor’s culinary career began at 15 at Restaurant Kevin Taylor. He has since held positions at Mugaritz, a two Michelin-starred restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, as well as a selection of popular Denver restaurants, including Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House. Ryan opened Hickory & Ash in partnership with his father, celebrated Denver chef Kevin Taylor, and he helms the kitchen as Executive Chef. Ryan was named to Zagat’s “30 Under 30” list of up-and-coming young restaurant professionals in America in 2015.