A Chef’s Home in the Mile High City

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Posted Wed, Jan 14, 2015

Executive Chef turned General Manager, Amanda Young finds home in the Mile High City. [Photo by Michelle Perez]

Executive Chef turned General Manager, Amanda Young finds home in the Mile High City. [Photo by Michelle Perez]

DENVER –– From the age of 13, Amanda Young knew she was destined for a career in the food industry. Growing up in a military family, Young moved around from coast to coast. She attributes this constant moving to her flexible nature, a trait that would bring her success in her life in the food industry. Once her family finally settled down in Miami, Young rooted herself on the beach and followed her dreams of being a chef.

“I knew at age 13 that I wanted to be a chef and it never wavered,” Young says.

Taking on new responsibilities as a young adult, Young acknowledges that this passion stemmed from cooking for her family every night. With her mother back at work, Young took on the role of house cook, providing delicious meals for her father and brother. Young learned to how to cook from her mother and grandmother. Family recipes handed down from mother to daughter trace back her maternal lineage, to which Young feels strongly connected.

“To this day I still make a potato and egg dumpling soup,” Young says. “My mother made it, my grandmother made, my great-mother made it, it’s always been in the family.”

Graduating from culinary school at Florida International University in Miami, Young studied under the renowned Chef Allen Susser, who taught her all the flair of cooking in the industry.

From there, Young headed west for Portland, Ore., but would find herself in Boulder, instead. In the midst of the eighties, the prominent Boulder scene made Young feel right at home.

“As soon as I drove into Boulder I knew I was at home, it seemed like the perfect place for me,” Young says.

After her stay in Boulder, Young moved to Denver to work at the Chop House. Taking on the role of executive chef, Young gained the freedom to develop new dishes and perfect her favorites. Young received recognition in the Westword in 1995, as one of Denver’s prominent female chefs. This accomplishment would set in motion a new direction in her life.

“After leaving the Chop House, I came to Wynkoop and was offered a general manager position,” Young says, “it was challenging, but I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot from my mangers.”

This new position would come with new challenges, but Young thrived under pressure and found herself settling into the unexpected role.

“I never had the in-between stages of the restaurant. I went from the back-of-house to the front-of-house overnight,” Young says.

Despite her new role, Young’s passion for cooking remained intact, and she was still able to create dishes for the restaurant. Every Mother’s Day Young gets to try out some new recipes. Last year’s menu included bacon-chocolate-chip pancakes, eggs benedict, and bacon-cheddar grits. Young says this bacon-themed menu was a great hit, especially with the younger crowd.

Settling into the Denver scene was an easy transition from Boulder, Young says. With friends already living there, it was never a lonely place. Young, her husband, and her daughter live in the Five Points area – a place Young says she wouldn’t trade for the world.

“When we moved here, almost 11 years ago, it was a different place. There was a lot more crime, you know, but now there are more families,” Young says. “I love my house and I love living in the city.”

From her active years in Florida, surfing on the beach, Young found the healthy lifestyle of Denver appealing.

“I love the healthy lifestyle of Denver. There is always something to do that is engaging for the whole family, whether here in the city or up in the mountains,” Young says. “You could never get bored in this place.”

Driven by a passion for food from such a young age, Amanda Young made a life out of cooking, and found a home here in Denver. If you want to taste some her delicious concoctions, visit Wynkoop Brewery on Mother’s Day.

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About Michelle Perez

Michelle Perez is a Denver-Area Freelance Writer

View all posts by Michelle Perez

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