Quickfire Q+A With Chef Mario Vasquez of Colorado Craft
Words: Mundi Ross
Born and raised in Northern California in the small town of Vacaville, Mario’s culinary influence is rooted from his very young memories of family gatherings. Coming from a father who was born into a family of 16 siblings and a mother with an equally large family, Mario has fond memories of the family’s meal preparation.
Graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Sacramento, Mario began his culinary career in Napa, California where he started as a line cook at Farmstead restaurant, a self-sustainable farm-to-table concept located in St. Helena. Mario quickly rose through the ranks to earn his Sous Chef title under Chef Stephan Barber. After a three year stay at Farmstead, Mario set out on a lone year-long backpacking trip through France and Spain. Staying on stranger’s couches trading meals for stay, he was able to expand his palate and culinary knowledge by taking home many influences from Lyon, San Sebastian and Barcelona.
Returning to the states, Mario moved to Southern California where he landed a Sous Chef position under Chef Casey Overton with Montage Hotels and Resorts at their flagship Laguna Beach property. At the triple Five-Star Diamond resort, Mario was able to work with some of the best chefs in the area, giving him a chance to really polish his cuisine and define his own identity as a chef.
After a 3 year stay, Mario was recruited to Colorado Springs to help open the farm-inspired Till Kitchen as the Chef De Cuisine with Chefs Sheamus Feeley and Gerry Castro, ultimately winning Best New Restaurant and Best Overall their first year. Mario was then moved to the Garden of the Gods Market and Cafe as the Executive Chef for a brief period until leaving when Colorado Craft gave birth in September 2017.
What is the vision for Colorado Craft Social? Bringing people together by providing a fun atmosphere. Featuring lots of local spirits, breweries and a seasonal menu focused on local ingredients and artisans.
Favorite ingredient to work with. Mushrooms
As a chef, what is your favorite Colorado season? Spring is my favorite season, there are so many great vegetables with lots of bright colors to plan menus around.
Where do you pull your inspiration from? Recently, I've been gathering a lot of my inspiration from being out in the woods, building fires and cooking humble dishes over live coals. Growing up in California and being exposed to many Asian and Latin cuisines my whole life is a big part of how I cook and express myself through food.
What"s next for you? I think what's next for me as a chef is to continue to teach and mentor my staff and to simplify and refine my craft.
15 S. Tejon St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903