Out of 623 national nominations, Eater has selected 50 semifinalists for its 2018 class of Young Guns. Two Denver names made the list: Ace Eat Serve’s executive chef Thach Tran and Western Daughters Butcher Shop CEO Kate Kavanaugh. Along with the rest of the class, Tran and Kavanaugh are recognized as rising stars who are early in their careers; Eater Young Guns must be under 30 or have less than five years of experience in the industry. Next month, the finalists will be announced.
Here’s what Kate Kavanaugh’s partner, Josh Curtiss, had to say about the 29-year-old CEO:
Kate has devoted 5 years in the meat business to promoting sustainable standards in the meat industry. I am continually impressed at her unwavering devotion to quality. She has helped underwrite bills to open up options for farmers and ranchers at the state level, she has paid over 1 million dollars to local ranchers and farmers in the last 5 years, and has been active within the community discussing what it takes to make a business about sustainability financially sustainable.
In addition to all of that, she has spent the last two years devoting every spare moment to researching specialty diets to better reach customers, and specifically, women’s health needs. I have watched her hold hands of women across our counter going through severe health issues, offering them a cup of broth, and walking them through how food can help heal their bodies. Her passion for health for our customers but also our fellow industry professionals who want to get back on track with their own health has been really humbling. In an age where discussing mental health in the food industry is just starting, Kate is at the forefront unafraid to voice her own experience with mental illness that she has helped along with real food.
And here’s what a co-worker had to say about Ace’s 28-year-old executive chef, Thach Tran:
Chef Thach brings an obvious passion for the cuisine of his cultural heritage and professional experience. He shares the origin, inspiration, and personal relationship with each dish he chooses to put on the menu. What’s most surprising at his young age is his ability to teach, which has allowed him to maintain a loyal and consistent kitchen staff during this BOH labor crisis.
His humble, laid back, happy approach towards food and hospitality is an amazing fit in a high-energy, high-profile, and high-volume restaurant like Ace. It is a challenge to put out such high-quality dishes when an evening at Ace might consist of 500 dinner covers and a party of 200 in the [ping] pong room. He has used his experience to date to create dim sum and menu items that lend themselves to these challenges without sacrificing quality or presentation. We can’t wait to see what chef Thach continues to create with more time and experience at Ace.