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Sometimes his menus take shape an hour before the staff is set to taste them. Other times, they pour out of him in the wilderness, where he goes for a reprieve to hike and fly fish and create. He’ll scribble into an old journal, long after the sun goes down and he won’t be able to fully read what he’s written until the sun comes back up. When he does, however, it all makes sense. Back down to the city he goes, to his little parcel of Capitol Hill where he stands at the helm of a pass that has been putting out some of the most extraordinary food in Denver for the past nearly two decades.

Since Shawn started at his first kitchen in Detroit at age 13, he’s worked in 5 Star, 5 Diamond, and Relais & Châteaux properties from Nantucket to Beaver Creek, but seeing him hunched over a plate with such intensity and straightening up to reveal true art--it’s clear it has all led up to this.

Shawn is a force in the kitchen. He is quiet-voiced but unwavering. His hands are steady but quick. He has a profound capacity for precision. It seems he has seen much, but fears nothing. He is utterly at home in the feverish quest for perfection that swirls around his kitchen. Perhaps that’s because he has achieved it once or twice. Perhaps that’s because he never stops working for it. Perhaps it is both.