Behind the Scenes: Local Chefs’ Favorite Fall Recipes


As the weather cools down, heat up your kitchen. Whether you’re looking for a new recipe to share with visiting family or just want to treat yourself this holiday season, we’ve asked the experts to share some inspo.

We reached out to some of Boulder’s beloved chefs for their favorite fall recipes to share. These are simple recipes ― from cocktails to dessert to soup and main courses ― that you can try at home using seasonal ingredients and flavors typically associated with the fall.

Some recipes are creative. Others are family favorites, or inspired by a restaurant’s menu. All are a peek into the brilliant minds of area chef-perts.

Roasted Organic Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Almonds and Nutmeg Cream

Recipe courtesy of Chef Bradford Heap, of Salt, Wild Standard and Colterra. Heap was named the Best Chef of the Southwest by the James Beard House, where he held a position as guest chef. That’s basically the biggest honor to chef-kind.


  • 2 pounds organic, local butternut squash, washed and cut in half
  • 1 pound organic yellow onions, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 pound organic carrots, cut into medium dice
  • 4 ounces olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 4 ounces almonds
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • Sugar to taste (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • Salt to taste


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place squash, cut side down, on a baking tray lined with oiled parchment paper for easy cleanup. Roast until tender in the “neck.”
  • Lower oven temp to 250 degrees (for the almonds).
  • Meanwhile, sweat the onions and carrots starting on high heat, then lowering the flame to sweat until softened and not colored. Add three quarts of water and simmer.
  • Remove squash from the oven, scoop out the seeds while holding squash with a heavy kitchen towel. Scoop out the roasted squash and add to the onion and carrot mixture. Add the cinnamon and half of the nutmeg. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes to let flavors come together.
  • Place almonds on a sheet tray and toast in the oven at 250 degrees for approximately 8 minutes, checking every 2 minutes. Make sure they don’t burn.
  • Let soup cool, then place in blender. Carefully place the top on the blender with a towel. Fill the blender only two-thirds full and pulse to start so it doesn’t become explosive and burn you. Continue blending until all the soup is smooth. Finish soup with 3/4 of the cream, salt and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. The trick to this soup is to create a balance between the salt, the sugar and the spices — the sweetness of the butternut squash and the nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s a little tricky to get it just right, but if you do, it’s a delicious winter soup.
  • Place the remaining cream and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg in the saucepan with a pinch of sugar; bring to a boil. Place the soup in a warm bowl. Drizzle with the nutmeg cream and sprinkle toasted almonds on top.
The Pumpkin King cocktail. Courtesy photo

Pumpkin King Cocktail

Recipe courtesy of Vapor Distillery, a Boulder-based micro-distillery founded in 2008. Vapor uses organic and/or natural ingredients. Head distiller, Ted Palmer, has been a master brewery since 1994 and has worked at multiple craft breweries, but distilling has long been his first love. He learned it from his grandfather in a garage in Denver.


  • 1 ½ ounce Pumpkin King cordial
  • ¾ ounce Arrosta coffee liqueur
  • Half and half
  • Freshly ground nutmeg (garnish)
  • Freshly ground cinnamon (garnish)
  • Dab of whipped cream (garnish)


  • Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled highball glass and shake. Garnish with a dab of whipped cream, freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon.
The Lower Manhattan. Courtesy photo

Lower Manhattan Cocktail

Recipe courtesy of Vapor Distillery.


  • 2 ounces Boulder Ginskey barrel-aged gin
  • ½ ounces cherry cordial
  • ¼ ounces maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 dash of bitters
  • Cherry (garnish)
  • Cinnamon stick (garnish)


  • Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing tin and stir. Strain into a martini glass and top with bitters.
  • Garnish with a cherry and a cinnamon stick.
Butternut squash quinoa. Courtesy photo

Butternut Squash Quinoa

Recipe courtesy of Sean Gafner, executive chef/owner of The Roost and Jefes Tacos & Tequila in Longmont. Gafner graduated from Golden State Culinary Institute in 2000 with honors and he even taught at a culinary arts college in California. He has worked at a variety of restaurants along the way, run a high-end catering business and made multiple TV appearances. He and his wife owned a high-end catering business


  • 2 cups butternut squash, cleaned and small diced (½-inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup salted butter
  • ½ yellow onion, minced finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced finely
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 quart veggie stock
  • 1 quart red quinoa
  • ¼ cup fresh sage brunoise (finely sliced)
  • To taste kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees (or 350 convection roast). Spread butternut squash evenly over a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until it begins to brown around the edges and is soft enough to smash easily with a fork.
  • In a 7-quart sauce pot over high heat, cook butter until dark brown.
  • Add onion and garlic and sauté until they begin to brown. Add wine and reduce by half.
  • Add thyme and veggie stock and bring to a boil. Add quinoa, return to a boil, turn to lowest setting, stir well, cover tightly and cook 15 minutes; let rest 5 minutes off of the heat.
  • Stir in roasted butternut squash and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with freshly grated parmesan.
  • For additional protein, top with grilled and sliced chicken breast or a portobello mushroom.
The Agave Toddy at Santo. Courtesy photo

Agave Toddy

Recipe courtesy of Santo bar manager Jason Ruff. Ruff has been working in the beverage industry since 2001. He was previously the bar manager at Salt before moving to Santo.

Santo is run by famed executive chef Hosea Rosenberg, winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef, Season 5.” He’s also been named the Best Chef of the Denver International Wine Festival, was a guest chef at the James Beard House in NYC and was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a business owner inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation.


  • 1 ounce of Dl Maguey Vida Mezcal
  • 1 ounce of Olmeca Altos Blanco Tequila
  • 1 ounce of lemon
  • 1/2 ounce of Rooibos Agave
  • 6 ounces hot water


  • Stir all ingredients together in a steeped glass. Garnish with lemon/lemon peel, freshly grated cinnamon, nutmeg and some whole cloves.
  • For Rooibos Agave, bring 8 ounces of agave and 8 ounces of water to a boil. Remove from stove top and steep 8 ounces of loose rooibos tea for approximately 30 minutes. Cool and strain. (We chose Pekoe Evening Solstice for our rooibos blend.) Refrigerate for up to 8 weeks.
The bar manager at Santo. Courtesy photo

Cured’s Pumpkin Butter

Recipe courtesy Cured, a gourmet store and cafe that specializes in hand-picked cheese, charcuterie and wine.


  • Small pie pumpkin (approximately 6 cups of meat once cleaned and cubed)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • About 1 teaspoon salt


  • Start by selecting a small pie pumpkin from a nearby farm with hefty weight a good solid “whomp” when you tap the side with your knuckles.
  • Peel, deseed and dice the pie pumpkin into roughly 1-inch cubes. Toss with the molasses and maple syrup and a pinch of salt.
  • Cook in a sous-vide/water displacement method cooker at 85 degrees for two hours.
  • Puree in a food processor until smooth.
  • Jar and cool, then top with a tight lid.
  • Store in your fridge for up to 1 month or freezer for up to 6  and use it frequently!
Cured’s grilled cheese sandwich. Courtesy photo

Cured’s Pumpkin-Chorizo Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of Cured.

Ingredients (per sandwich)

  • A country loaf/rustic boule
  • 2 tablespoons of Cured’s Pumpkin Butter
  • 0.1 pound of Spanish chorizo
  • 0.1 pound Gruyere cheese
  • 0.1 pound Fontina cheese
  • Butter


  • Slice a crusty country-style loaf into roughly 1-centimeter slices. Spread the pumpkin butter on the bottom slice, topping with evenly spread, thinly-sliced chorizo.
  • Layer the cheeses, mixed, in thin slices on top of the chorizo and top with the other slice of bread
  • Toss on a panini press for 6 minutes, or until the cheese has thoroughly melted, creating an oozy layer of goodness fully coating everything underneath.
  • Enjoy with a lightly hopped amber ale or glass of Syrah in hand.
Cured Pumpkin Seeds. Courtesy photo

Cured’s Pumpkin Seeds

Recipe courtesy of Cured.

Serves 2-10, depending on self-restraint.


  • 4 cups pumpkin seeds (once cleaned)
  • 3 tablespoons Spanish olive oil (La Cultivada Hojiblanca preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees convection.
  • Fill a large stockpot with water and place a strainer on top.
  • Under lightly running water, sort the seeds from the pulp and fiber and place them on a dish towel to dry. Gently pat the seeds dry and transfer to a clean, dry baking sheet. No need for parchment here.
  • Drizzle 3 tablespoons of a fruit-forward Spanish olive oil and 1 tablespoon of Braggs Liquid Aminos over the pumpkin seeds and stir to coat. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes with a fork to keep the seeds from sticking and to help them rotate and cook evenly. After 15 minutes, turn the oven off and let the seeds rest in the cooling oven for 10 minutes.
  • Toss on a cooling rack briefly, open a bottle of champagne and snack away.
Whipped Chocolate Honey Cheesecake. Courtesy photo

Whipped Chocolate Honey Cheesecake

Recipe courtesy Savannah Bee Co.’s Instagram page, in celebration of National Cheesecake Day. Visit the local branch of the Savannah Bee Co. at 1222 Pearl St., Boulder.



  • 9 ounces of chocolate wafer cookies
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 12 ounces whipped chocolate honey or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a 9-inch springform pan.
  • In a food processor, pulse chocolate cookies until ground. Add butter and pulse. Press crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes on a lined baking sheet and set aside.
  • Wipe out bowl and blade of food processor or use mixer. Combine cream cheese, honey and salt; blend until smooth. Add eggs, sour cream and chocolate; blend filling until smooth, scrape down sides and continue mixing. Taste and add honey for desired sweetness. Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake just until set, 1 hour.
  • Let the cake cool completely (in the oven if possible), cover loosely and refrigerate (at least 6 hours, up to overnight).
  • Prepare ganache: In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until melted, then set aside until thickened, 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Unmold cheesecake. Spread ganache in center of cheesecake; let set before serving.
The Harvest Cocktail. Courtesy photo

The Harvest Cocktail

Editor’s note: Fate Brewing Co. has closed.

Recipe courtesy of Sage Swink at Fate Brewing Co. “It’s a ton of fun to play with beer as an ingredient in cocktails. This one in particular combines the maltiness and spices from the beer with the rich bourbon spirits. A beautiful blend and perfect cocktail for this season,” Swink says.


  • Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • Leopold’s Orange Liqueur
  • Apple-cinnamon simple syrup
  • Orange bitters
  • Fresh-squeezed orange
  • Fate’s Pumpkin Harvest Ale
  • Garnished with a blood orange and cinnamon stick
Sonnenalp’s new chef. Courtesy photo

Sonnenalp Glühwein

Recipe courtesy of the Sonnenalp Hotel‘s new chef Ingo Möller. We ventured a little beyond Boulder to the ski town of Vail for this recipe, in celebration of the Sonnenalp’s new chef. Möller has been in the industry for 24 years and is an award-winning pastry chef and baker, even earning a Michelin star during the opening of the Restaurant Margaux in Berlin. The Sonnenalp is a German-inspired, family-run hotel in the heart of Vail, so this European-influenced mulled wine is a natural fit.


  • 1 bottle fruity red wine such as a merlot or cabernet
  • 1 orange, in slices
  • 4 star anise
  • 5 cloves
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 2 glasses freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1.5 cups sugar or more up to your liking


  • Put all in a pot and heat it up. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Strain mulled wine and serve hot.
  • Add rum, Grand Marnier or amaretto to booze it up.
The Denver Flea cocktail. Courtesy photo

The Fall Flea McIntosh Cocktail

Recipe courtesy of The Denver Flea. While the Flea is in Denver, it has a Boulder spirit, in that it supports the artisan movement. The Flea bills itself as a “reinvented retail experience” where you can get unique gifts, seasonal cocktails, food trucks and all things craft.


  • 1.5 ounce Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1.5 ounce Teakoe Lemon Ginger Tea
  • 1.5 ounce apple juice
  • 0.5 ounce lemon juice
  • Dashes of Strongwater Ginger Citrus Bitters


  • Mix together and serve. Easy!

Roasted Heirloom Pumpkin and Lobster Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

Recipe courtesy of Steven Yacovetta, Chef de Cuisine at Jill’s Restaurant in the St Julien Hotel.

For the ravioli dough


  • 1 pound ap flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin pulp


In a kitchen mixer, add eggs, salt and pumpkin pulp. Mix until all is combined well. Slowly add flour until dough starts to form. If the dough is to sticky, add an additional tablespoon of flour until dough is smooth. Form a ball, place in a greased bowl and cover. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the filling


  • 3 gallons of whole milk (for ricotta cheese)
  • ¾ cup juiced lemons
  • 2 cups chopped lobster claws
  • 2 whole eggs
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 bunch chopped parsley
  • 3 sprigs chopped thyme
  • 1 sprig chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped shallots


Heat milk in a large pot to 180 degrees. Add lemon juice and stir well. Pull off of stove and let stand for 5 minutes. Run the liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth to separate the curds from the whey. In a separate bowl combine the lobster, eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic and shallots; mix well. Add desired cheese to the mix.

For the butter


  • 8 ounces butter
  • 2 tablespoons diced pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • ½ lemon squeezed
  • Salt and pepper


Melt the butter on low heat until brown. In another pan render the pancetta until crispy, add the seeds, sage, garlic, shallots, brown butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Roll the dough, cut it with circle cutter to desired size, stuff with filling, crimp ravioli together, cook in boiling water for 7 minutes.

Beet hummus at Shine. Courtesy photo

Beet Hummus

Recipe courtesy of Jessica Emich, co-owner of Shine Restaurant and Potion Bar, co-creator of Shine Potions and co-author of lifestyle cookbook “Eat Drink Shine,” by the Blissful Sisters. This makes about 2 1/2 cups of hummus.


  • 4 medium beets, peels on, scrubbed to remove any dirt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (see tip below)


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the whole beets with olive oil and a touch of salt. Put them on a baking pan and roast for approximately 1 hour, until the beets are easily pierced through with a fork. Let cool slightly.
  • When the beets are cool enough to handle, rub the skins off with a clean dishcloth (be forewarned — the beets will stain it) or use a vegetable peeler. Coarsely chop the beets and put them in the food processor with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.
  • Serve with your favorite chopped veggies or flatbread. Refrigerate leftovers, if any, in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Tip: Since the garlic is raw, it will add a pungent garlic flavor to the hummus. You can use just 1 clove, if you prefer, or roast the garlic for a softer flavor.

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