Two days and two Michelin stars later, Brutø and The Wolf’s Tailor, which are both owned by the same restaurant group, are booked through October, with no availability yet beyond that. That’s what happens when you win one of the most coveted food awards in the world.
“In the last 36 hours, we’ve had 425-plus reservations, so you won’t be able to get a seat at Brutø until we release reservations in November,” said chef Michael Diaz de Leon, who runs the kitchen at the small, Mexican-inspired omakase restaurant in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood.
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The Wolf’s Tailor, located in the Sunnyside neighborhood, already has 500 reservations, said Kelly Whitaker, whose Id Est Hospitality Group owns both restaurants.
Id Est nearly swept the competition at Michelin’s highly anticipated award ceremony on Sept. 12, winning seven recognitions. In addition to their Michelin stars, Brutø and The Wolf’s Tailor also received a sustainability award for the team’s practices, including managing food waste through fermentation, sourcing local ingredients and milling flour in-house.
Caroline Clark, Id Est’s wine and hospitality director received the exceptional cocktails award for The Wolf’s Tailor, while Whitaker’s newest restaurant, Hey Kiddo, and his first, Basta, were added to Michelin’s list of recommended Colorado restaurants.
Beckon in Denver, Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder and Bosq in Aspen also received one star, meaning that there are now five Michelin-starred restaurants in Colorado. This was the first time that the esteemed restaurant guide has visited or awarded stars in the state.
“We expected to be in the conversation, but we didn’t expect to get seven recognitions from Michelin, so we know how rare and special that is,” Whitaker said.
Both Brutø and The Wolf’s Tailor only release reservations a month in advance, but Whitaker said he plans to open up reservations through the holiday season in November, so there will be more chances for diners to come in. But not at the expense of service or quality.
“We want to stay true to ourselves and continue to do 55 to 60 covers a night to the best of our ability. This isn’t a moment to grab a bunch of revenue,” he explained.
“Our team is ready for this; we’re built for this, and we’ve already prepared in so many ways,” Whitaker added. “I’ve always wanted to set the standard of a Michelin restaurant and hold us to that level of execution, cooking and technique. Our goal has always been to show up and create excellence, and we’ve done all of that without thinking about stars.”
But if his team decides to aim for a second star (Michelin can award up to three), Whitaker would work with them. For now, he plans to send staff to other Michelin-star restaurants around the world where they will work briefly (known as staging) so they can bring back fresh ideas.
Brutø’s Diaz de Leon said he is as proud of the sustainability award as he is of the star. “We’re one of 16 restaurants in the country that have both a green star and a Michelin star,” he pointed out. “The only people who have both are the big boys, like French Laundry, Atelier Crenn and SingleThread Farms. We’re there now.”
Diaz de Leon, Whitaker and their team returned to Brutø after the awards ceremony to celebrate with the rest of the staff. But the next day, they were right back to work and in the kitchen, ready to prove themselves worthy of their awards. Diaz de Leon said he’s hardly slept, showing up to Brutø at 11 a.m. Wednesday and clocking out around 1 a.m. “There’s no place I’d rather be,” he said.
For his day off on Sunday, he plans to cook himself a big wagyu tomahawk and have some wine to celebrate. He’ll also rest, but then it will be back to work.
“My wife is going to kill me, but I want those two stars,” Diaz de Leon said.
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