Chef Dane Hiett in the latest Menswear from A Line Boutique
Our series Trend Report is a style spread featuring clothing brands and stores. This month, Editor in Chief ESTHER LEE LEACH interviews Dane Hiett of Chef Dane’s Kitchen. Dane wears clothing from A Line Boutique in Cherry Creek North. The Menswear collection is also available at A Line’s Union Station boutique.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ESTHER LEE LEACH
CLOTHING: A LINE BOUTIQUE CHERRY CREEK
Esther Lee Leach: Dane, during the planning process for this issue, I heard from multiple sources that you should be featured! You have developed a following and great reputation for luxury catering. How did your passion for the culinary world begin?
Dane Hiett: Like so many chefs, my appetite for a life in the culinary world began in my childhood home. My mom is an extraordinary cook and from a young age you could find me in the kitchen alongside her. Chopping, seasoning, stirring – you name it – I wanted to be a part of it.
ELL: You were only 15 years old when you began your career in the restaurant industry. What was your first job?
DH: I truly “started from the bottom now [I’m] here,” as a dishwasher for a local Mexican restaurant. It’s typically the most entry level position in the industry and I’m grateful for the experience. I think it’s important to spend time working in every role you can in a restaurant because you really learn and become aware of every moving piece, big and small, that it takes to run a successful business.
ELL: You spent eight years at The Four Seasons Hotel Restaurant in Santa Barbara and then Vail. Tell us more about that experience and how it developed your craft.
DH: Working for The Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara was the first time I really got a taste for the luxury culinary experience. Their entire mantra is based on the idea that you do, within reason, whatever it takes to create a uniquely superb experience for every individual client that walks through the door. I learned how important a personal touch is to higher level dining which I took with me when I moved to The Rockies to help open the Vail Four Seasons property.
ELL: Most foodies are obsessed with the Food Network and you got to work as a consultant chef on the show Restaurant Impossible. Describe the experience of working on this TV show.
DH: Working on Restaurant Impossible was a really awesome experience that I did not see coming. Interestingly enough, that opportunity came from a former colleague from my time at The Four Seasons Vail so my journey in this industry has been pretty organic. The show itself is about turning around failed restaurants that people have put their hearts and souls into, in a very short period of time. In doing so, a lot of times that means getting to be a positive impact that turns that person’s whole life around. My role dealt a lot with rewriting menus and counseling on cross-utilization of ingredients in order to create a more sustainable business model for the restaurants. What I think I took away most from my time with the show was seeing what an entrepreneurial soul really looks like. It was one of the catalysts that made me consider starting my own business.
ELL: After working in the restaurant industry, you decided to create Chef Dane's Kitchen. Why did you want to create your own catering company?
DH: I’ve always wanted to work for myself and start something from scratch. In Denver, I think I found a unique niche in the catering market. Anything more than what strictly a private chef would do, but less than what a larger scale, commercial catering company would – that’s where Chef Dane’s Kitchen wants to be. We’ve been successful in this because we take a restaurant-style approach to all events we do, but on a boutique level. Clients are able to experience a more personal and curated private dining experience, whether with family, friends, or colleagues. Everything from the food, service, ambiance, and style, is customized for each event.
ELL: Tell us more about the services offered by Chef Dane's Kitchen.
DH: CDK is a full-service luxury boutique catering company. This includes private multi-course dinners, cocktail events, buffets, family-style dinners, weddings, graduation parties – you name it. We love doing more food-focused dinners where the food and the service shine.
ELL: You are known for creating beautiful pop-up dinners at interesting locations. Tell us more about some of these events that you have done and any plans for the future.
DH: The pop-up dinners are really just about bringing people together for an upscale, food-driven, social experience. Historically, they start with a short cocktail hour, and then guests move to a community table where they’re encouraged to meet and converse with those around them. Equally important to me are the relationships we get to build behind the scenes with our collaborators. We start by finding exceptional venues that often serve as a blank canvas. From there we work with amazing designers, rental companies, and others to collectively craft every pop-up event.