Eric Skokan is not your typical farm-to-table chef. He racked up credentials from high-end gigs in D.C. and San Francisco before opening the elegant Black Cat bistro and accompanying Black Cat Organic Farm farm in Boulder, Colorado, in 2006. “I thought I knew everything there is to know about food. Honestly, I was getting a little jaded,” he says. But a growing desire to connect with food and community from the ground up led him to purchase 21 farmland acres, learn how to raise animals, build a root cellar. Now he and his wife, Jill, farm full-time in addition to raising four kids and, incredibly, running their successful restaurant and recently launching the Bramble & Hare, a farmhouse kitchen and pub next door to Black Cat.
“Now, as a farmer, food is totally new again, every day,” Skokan enthuses. He plays with seasonings, experiments with unusual vegetables and breeds, and even reinvents the most venerable food holiday of all, Thanksgiving, with world-cuisine flavors and ingredients like chipotle, ginger, cilantro, coconut, and red pepper flakes. Sometimes a new approach to life—and cooking—just takes a little spice.