The best thing about the chef taking time off — from his customer’s point of view, at least — is that we get to taste what he learned while he was gone.
At Cosmopolitan in Telluride, this summer that means Baby Grilled Octopus served with a potato and egg salad, duck bacon and roasted red pepper oil. Yes, Cosmo chef-proprietor Chad Scothorn is recently back from Catalonia and you can bet that the new octopus starter at Cosmo is just the first evidence of it that we will see.
Octopus has been popular for the last several years in big cities, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in the region. It’s popular because it is so versatile, so tender, so much fun to eat and it’s sustainably harvested, too, in most of the places where it’s fished.
Since the beginning in 1996 (is it really almost 20 years?), Cosmo has managed being both remarkably consistent and always new. Scothorn is restless and inventive and every year, it seems, there is new decor or new menu items or new cooking techniques at Cosmo, and over time these frequent innovations have added up to a dining experience that is pure Scothorn. Cosmo is really not “like” anywhere else because it’s such a personal expression of it’s owner’s tastes. To wit, the current starter menu consists of three items introduced over the years that are so good and so popular that they can probably never come off: crispy Shrimp and Calamari, Lobster Corn Dogs and House Made Burratta. I’ll wager that the new Baby Grilled Octopus will join this roster, presenting Scothorn with more of the challenge he seems to always meet: building on what works and at the same time finding the space within that zone to keep on innovating.
“I’ve never been more inspired,” Scothorn said after describing some of what he saw, and more importantly tasted, in Catalonia. I’m sure I’m not the only Cosmo fan who can’t wait to see where that leads.