Red Star Deli and Studio F have switched gears in the last week as chef James Mazzio exited the picture — his last day was Friday — and a new chef, Glenn Smith, took the reigns of the kitchen operations.
Mazzio is a familiar face of the Denver restaurant scene. A self-taught chef, he found himself named among Food and Wine's Best New Chefs in 1999 while working in Boulder at 15 Degrees, a restaurant that closed only four months after the honor. Mazzio was 29 at the time and has since worked in many kitchens in Denver from Via to the Ice House Tavern and up in the mountains, most recently at rick Pony Pub in Basalt and the Edge in Carbondale. Red Star Deli opened in March under chef Mazzio's direction. The sandwich shop steadily won over the hearts of deli lovers. Studio F was launched in April with goal of highlighting local and visiting chefs in pop-up dinner formats.
The ownership group behind Red Star Deli and Studio F parted ways with Mazzio last week. The general manager, Maria Lau, cited differences in the long-term vision as well as the accelerated pace at which Red Star Deli and Studio F have been going since opening. Mazzio is on vacation and was not immediately available for comment.
Chef Glenn Smith is ready for the challenge. A Denver native, Smith is a self-taught cook who went through the kitchen ranks in restaurants as far away as New Zealand and across the country from California to Arizona. Smith started spending summers working in Aspen to get away from the Phoenix heat and he was hooked. Twenty-two years of Colorado mountain residence, Smith has come back to his home town to live with his fiancee in Denver's Wash Park neighborhood.
Smith's culinary background includes serving as the chef-in-residence at the Cooking School of Aspen, owning a catering company and working as a private chef for high profile clients in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, and hosting several TV show on Plum TV. Aside from cooking, Glenn Smith is a skilled fly fisher, experienced stand-up comedian, and passionate restorer of vintage motorcycles.
There are no plans for any big menu changes at this time. "The sandwich shop is roaring with business and getting busier every day," Maria Lua said of Red Star Deli.
Chef Glenn Smith [Photo: Wine Colorado ]