It seems that Denver natives are as rare as the white truffle, but Denver-born Jorel Pierce is the exception that proves the rule, even graduating from Johnson and Wales University in the Mile High City.
Kitchen stints as diverse as Le Manoir aux Quat Saison in Oxford, England, Willie G's and other chain operations in Denver led Pierce to the kitchen of Rioja as a line cook where he told the other cooks he would be sous chef in just a few weeks. Chef Jasinski promoted him after 18 months, and he has never looked back. Jorel traces his interest in food to early home experiences where he was exposed to complex, exotic flavors, and participated in hunting and foraging. He loved the act of cooking and eating and fell in love with the techniques and foundations that outline great cuisine.
Self-described as passionate, intense and ambitious, Jorel lists Marco Pierre White, Thomas Keller and Rioja Chef/Owner Jennifer Jasinski as culinary inspirations for widely disparate reasons. Pierre White preaches all out utilization of ingredients, Keller pursues perfection and Jasinski has driven Pierce to fulfill his dreams. He loves to cook to jazz music all day but defaults to bluegrass when the world gets crazy.
As a sous chef at Rioja, Pierce learned management techniques, ingredient utilization and inspired cooking from his fellow workers and chefs. He plans on applying those lessons as Chef de Cuisine at Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen.
Pierce is married and lives in south Denver with his wife Lindsey and their 15-year-old Siamese cat Moxie.
**Jorel tried out for and made it to the final round of casting (episode 1001 for Top Chef: Seattle where he was Eliminated in Tom’s kitchen at Craft.