Colorado Springs' Brother Luck goes for coveted 'Top Chef' title with a Colorado theme

By Teresa Farney Updated: December 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm • Published: December 4, 2017 0

Thursday, the eyes of Colorado Springs foodies will be on the Bravo channel's premiere of "Top Chef" as our own Brother Luck joins the 14 other "cheftestants."

The show was filmed in Colorado, too. The 15th season of the Emmy Award-winning series takes chefs on a road trip to Denver, Boulder, Telluride and Aspen.

At 8 p.m., viewers will watch them cook for a block party, create recipes for Rocky Mountain oysters, come up with a tailgate menu for the Broncos and participate in a campfire cook-off during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. One by one, they will be eliminated from the competition, and the eventual winner will pocket $125,000.

Luck - executive chef and owner of Four by Brother Luck - is highly respected in our fair city, and diners love him. He has received numerous accolades, including "Best Local Chef" three years running by Gazette readers, and Colorado Springs Independent readers voted Brother Luck Street Eats the "Most Cutting Edge Restaurant."

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Before downtown's Four By Brother Luck, he had Brother Luck Street Eats on West Colorado Avenue, and before that he had a catering business, CrEATe 719 Kitchen, which he operated out of the Triple Nickel Tavern.

His last corporate position was as executive chef at The Craftwood Inn. His name became more familiar nationally after he won his episode of "Beat Bobby Flay" and appeared on "Chopped."

During a chat with Luck, we got a glimpse into his time as a cheftestant since he applied in January for a slot on "Top Chef."

"I did a Skype interview with the casting team," he said.

In March, he got "the" call.

"I was so psyched," he said. "They said the filming would take place for six weeks in May and June in Colorado."

The timing could not have been worse for the 30-something chef.

"We were just getting ready to open my new restaurant downtown," he said. "We opened on May 2, and I left for Denver the next morning."

He worried how his new eaterie would fare during his long absence, but with trusted and talented professionals at the helm, all went well.

"I got Aaron (Rivera) to come and take over the kitchen," he said. "We went to culinary school together, and he cooks a lot like me. I knew he would maintain the quality and vision I had for the restaurant."

And of course Luck's wife, Tina, kept a watchful eye on the business.

"She signs all the checks," he said. "Nothing gets past her."

So began life on the road, with its professional and personal challenges.

"Living six weeks with other adults was interesting," he said. "Learning about new personalities was fun. My attitude was that, I'm here to focus on me and my story. I tried not to get caught up in any drama."

But how did he handle the pressure of coming up with dishes for food celebrities, who are part of the first episode?

"Being from Colorado and doing the series in Colorado, I wanted to represent all the wonderful foods we have in our state," he said. "I picked a less tender cut of Colorado lamb to braise. I pounded that meat into submission. Then I love the purple potatoes from the San Luis Valley - they remind me of the state flower, the columbine. So I made a puree of blue and white potatoes."

He said he maintained a Colorado theme throughout the competition.

Luck said he's humbled to have been selected for the series.

"The other chefs come from the best of the best," he said. "There was so much celebrity. I'm a rookie. I had a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove myself."

With more than 20 years studying the craft of cooking, "I'm confident in my cooking ability," he said. "Anytime I'm competing, I'm strategic with my time management, and cooking in a new environment takes focus."

Was anything staged, set up or scripted?

"No," he said. "We had no idea what was coming. You learn to think on your feet. We were like ducks on water. Everything looks calm gliding on the water, but under the water, the feet are going a mile a minute."

The hardest part of doing the series has been the wait since the filming wrapped.

"We finished and it was like: Did it really happen?" he said. "There were six weeks of intense, long hours, then it's over and we have to sit on it for two months without saying what you were really doing those six weeks."

Bottom line: "It was great fun," he said. "I'm back in the kitchen, and that's reality."

Carrie Baird, executive chef at Bar Dough in Denver, is the only other Colorado contestant on the show. Tune in to Bravo on Thursday night to find out if Luck (or Baird) made the first cut or had to pack their knives and go home.

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