January 10, 2023
Community Spotlight: Meet Carrie Baird, Culinary Director & Executive Chef from the Culinary Creative Group and Featured Chef of MCA Denver's Dinner Society
On Saturday, January 28, 2023, MCA Denver is excited to welcome Carrie Baird, Culinary Director & Executive Chef from the Culinary Creative Group, for our beloved Dinner Society program. Carrie was the executive chef of Bar Dough where she earned numerous accolades, including being a semi-finalist for the James Beard award for Best Mountain Chef in 2019. She has been featured on Top Chef, as a contestant and returning as a judge in addition to beating Bobby Flay on the Food Networks, Beat Bobby Flay. The New Year begins with a culinary “BANG!” that will truly be a unique and celebratory experience.
Dinner Society is MCA Denver’s pop-up rooftop cafe dinner program that combines artisan eats with visual arts creating a truly intimate and special night at the museum. For ticket information, click here.
Hi Carrie! We’re so excited to have you as our featured Dinner Society Chef on January 28th! What sparked your interest in food and cooking?
I have memories of cooking with my dad from a very young age. We used to daydream about a diner that we would open, I would be the cook and he would pour the coffee. Guess I never moved away from the daydream!
You’ve led the creation of exquisite cuisine in many of Denver’s celebrated kitchens, along with representing our city on some of the most recognized cooking shows on TV. How did those experiences influence your current role as the Culinary Director and Executive Chef with the Culinary Creative Group?
If you look at my time on Top Chef, that was all about cooking under pressure and being thrown into unexpected situations. I would say, in my role as a chef, you find yourself in those positions all the time. It might be that more guests than you expected showed up to a fundraiser or an ingredient you were counting on for the perfect dish, didn’t come in. I see these as amazing challenges that teach a lot of lessons.
The Culinary Creative Group sees itself as an incubator where they bring in chef talent and help grow it. So I’m proud to pass on all the lessons I’ve learned as a chef so the next generation of chefs can learn as much as they can on the job.
What are you inspired by? How is this reflected in the dishes you create?
It's funny, just the other day my sister said to me, “do you cook anything that doesn't have a memory attached to it?” I believe that the classics are classic for a reason so I don’t try to reinvent the wheel very often. Stick to what you know. I like to recreate dishes and flavors that I know but with a twist. I think this is why I think the pop-ups for Fox and the Hen have been so popular… because people are really drawn to the evocativeness of memory.
How do visual and physical forms of creative expression ( art, music, dance) influence your culinary practice?
Such a good question. It can be as simple as going to an exhibit and being influenced by color and shape. It can be that a piece of art takes me back to a place and time, and then I want to recreate that memory on a plate. It can be that the rhythm of music brings on a sense of play, and I find myself in the flow state where I’m creating a dish with absolute creative freedom.
What is it about Colorado that made you want to establish your career within this food scene?
As a chef in Colorado, I really have such an amazing bounty of fruits, vegetables, and proteins here. I’m continually amazed at the quality of food from the local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, and other purveyors I get to work with. It matters to me where my food comes from, and that it be the freshest it can be. Add to that how much I love to bike and ski, Colorado is really the perfect place to live.
What can guests look forward to for the evening?
We are going to do Breakfast For Dinner! Trust me, it’s going to be fun, and not just bacon and eggs!
A new year is upon us! Anything that you are excited about for 2023?
I love the New Year, it’s such a great time to start over with a clean slate! I’m excited to open two new restaurant concepts with The Culinary Creative Group, the Fox And The Hen, my all-day breakfast concept in LoHi as well as Red Tops Rendezvous, our Detroit-style pizza concept in Jefferson Park. Travel always inspires my menus so I hope to travel a bit more this year.