Food goes from Elbert ranch to Parker Garage

Executive chef to live on ranch where food will be grown, raised


Parker Garage owner Brent Walker always planned to have food from local farmers and ranchers on his menu, but never envisioned pioneering an all-encompassing ranch-to-table concept.

Walker and executive chef Duy Pham have hatched a plan to grow and raise the food that will soon delight customers' taste buds at the popular eatery that opened in downtown Parker last October. In fact, Pham is moving to a 1,000-acre ranch in Elbert County to oversee the entire progression from the planting of a seed to the serving of a hot plate of food.

After partnering with Lone Star Ranch, a 125-year-old cattle and horse operation on County Road 114 in Elbert County, Pham began planting next spring's harvest. A ranch hand, who will oversee the grass-fed cattle on the land, expanded a coop to fit 100 chickens and built garden beds.

The idea is to offer a specialized menu, and even a five-course meal, with food that comes straight from Lone Star Ranch.

“Once it's gone, it's gone, so it's really true ranch-to-table farming, where whatever is available is what we're creating that week,” said Walker, who had plans from the beginning to “get as fresh and local as we possibly can.”

Pham, whose passion for fresh knowledge and food exploration runs deep, once owned a Pueblo restaurant where he had a limited farming operation. Walker says his partnership with Pham is fortuitous, as they share a common goal of putting the best food on the table.

Likewise, the timing for the new partnership with Lone Star Ranch is serendipitous, as a ranch hand gave his notice a few weeks back, opening up the space that will accommodate Pham. He is excited to have full control over the ranch-to-table delicacies that come through his kitchen, from produce to poultry, like duck, chicken and quail.

“I get to really steer the ranch production to what I like, even down to what breed I want to raise, how many, what their diet is going to be,” Pham says.

Walker and Pham are constantly consulting with one another about new ideas and tweaking the menu to keep themselves and the customers intrigued. They plan to eventually invite customers to visit the ranch to see for themselves what goes into the painstaking production of the food at Parker Garage. The interactive, daylong tours could give customers an inside look at cooking lessons, farming techniques and harvesting the very food they're about to eat.

“We want to be trailblazers,” Walker says. “We're not looking for what everybody else is up to.”

By next spring, Parker Garage is planning to roll out the limited menu, and it will expand from there. For now, the restaurant has a deal to get free-range grass-fed beef that's developed without the use of antibiotics. The ranch operation, with Pham at the helm, will also produce eggs, organic milk, cheese and plenty of vegetables. Parker Garage already has a small garden bed in the back where it grows its own small veggies and herbs.

Pham is always looking to add variety and recently formed a partnership with a fishing boat in Hawaii to get the latest catch. To the chef, who will one day become part owner of the restaurant, having the ability to create freely has opened up all kinds of doors. Walker spent years as a corporate restaurateur bound by a specific menu, and is equally grateful to have a consistent flow of new dishes.

“It's a partnership, and you're trying to use both people's talents to maximize outcome for the customer, because at the end of the day, they're the ones that decide whether they enjoy what we're doing,” Walker said.


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