On Thursday, after a whole day of voting, Eater crowned Joanna Powell of Cafe Aion as Denver's Hottest Chef. Now, Joanna is competing in a regional round against the hottest of the hot chefs from Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Louisville. Until Tuesday at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, the polls are open and you are encouraged to VOTE for one of our own.
A native of Mississippi with an undetectable accent aside from an occasional y'all, Powell has been in love with baking most of her life. After flirting with cake decorating in a grocery store, Powell attended pastry school at Culinary School of the Rockies and later landed the pastry chef position at Cafe Aion. Aside from her great skill in the kitchen, Powell was also named one of Colorado's hottest singles by 5280 Magazine in its February issue. Eater asked Powell a few questions about herself.
Given that you are single, what kind of partner are you looking for? I am looking to date someone that I don't have a lot in common with right off the bat because then there is more we can learn from each other. Good sense of humor and laid back. A little musical inclination never hurt.
How do you spend your days off? I love be-bopping around with friends on my days off, practicing the harmonica - a fairly recent conquest- and digging the snow and the rain and the bright sunshine.
Where would you go to dinner if you had your pick- any pick? If I could, I would fly to New Orleans right now and eat seafood until I pop.
If you had to pick a favorite food, what would it be? My favorite food always has been and always will be bacon. When I was younger, I hated eggs because they creeped me out. Thank goodness I got over that one.
How did your love for baking began? My love for baked goods began at an early age in my grandmother's kitchen. She was a master and I looked forward to every trip to see her so I could eat her biscuits and eventually bake them myself.
Did you mean to make baking your career? Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work with my hands. I was always very drawn to sculpting and throwing pottery, so it was a natural lead-in to decorating cakes. I got a job in a grocery store and if I finished my work early, the cake decorator would teach me how to make buttercream roses and other designs. I fell in love and went to pastry school at Culinary School of the Rockies.
How did you end up at in the pastry role at Cafe Aion? I was living in Denver, but I was offered the opportunity to assist the pastry chef at Cafe Aion. I was thrilled! I moved to Boulder shortly after and have been loving it ever since.
What is your favorite part about cooking and why? My favorite part about baking is when I have a chance to make a friend their favorite dish. That is where I find inspiration.
What inspires you to cook and do you have a role model in the kitchen? My cooking role model is my grandmother, and I love recreating the recipes that she made with such love for so long.
Joanna Powell [Photo: Adam Larkey]