Episode Three | Kelly Whitaker
Chef and Owner of Basta, The Wolf's Tailor, and Dry Storage
It had been a month since I moved back to Colorado, the leaves were done turning and questions on how I would feel about moving back were still lingering. Thanksgiving was approaching and the always gracious and multi-talented Clark family was hosting everyone who didn’t have anywhere to go into their humble abode.
An à-la-Clark potluck style dinner where Caroline took the challenge of making cornish game hens while everyone else brought something to share and compliment the meal. I was asked to bring a salad, but what kind of salad do would you bring to a Thanksgiving hosted by the Clarks where everyone bringing something was really good at cooking or eating?!
Even though Caro had slowly been introducing me to her work crew I hadn’t made it to Basta yet but had heard about Kelly and his wood-fired oven wizard skills.
Sooo... I made a salad (para los regiomontanos leyendo esto, hice mi versión de la ensalada “regia” o mejor conocida como la ensalada del Gaucho). It had a lot of avocados, tomatoes, manchego cheese, olives, and hearts of palm with a lime avocado garlic vinaigrette.
I nervously brought my salad into the house and delicately placed it on the table. This was the first time I had seen Kelly. His presence was intimidating yet approachable (contradictory I know). He was chatting away while meticulously checking that the steak in the sous-vide was at exact temperature was exactly what he wanted.
Eventually we were introduced, we talked for a bit, and before I could gasp he tries my salad and said “I love hearts of palm” and quickly grabbed another bite with his fingers.
After that, I knew I was in.
Even though I’m not “in the industry”, I’ve always felt like Kelly adopted me into his restaurant family. I would constantly find myself sitting on a Friday afternoon at Basta chatting with him about what I was training for or working on and I always felt endless support from him and his family. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him doubt whatever crazy idea I’ve had..and that says more about him than me.
His endless belief and faith in people’s potential and greatness is unquantifiable.
He will go to battle for you.
...and when it comes to his food. Well, it’s fucking great, but don’t let me tell you that. Go see for yourself.
An extremely creative individual with no lack of uniquely great ideas, accolades, and an immeasurable calling for service and hospitality who I get to call a friend and literally call when I need backup.
Thank you for always blindly opening your kitchens and doors to me and my team, introducing me to your peers, and giving me the opportunity to create.
Let me know when you want to go on a bike ride! #numberoneandmosthumble
Producer: Jimena Zamora
Director: Tanner Gibas
Camera: Tanner Gibas, Tanner Rheinbolt
Editor: Wildcat Active
Assistant Editor: Tanner Rheinbolt
Paxton and Somi
The Wolf's Tailor Team