IF WE DIDN'T LOVE IT,
A weekend festival featuring culinary collaborations between chefs from the Yampa Valley and visiting chefs from across the country paired with savory wines to please the palate of spectacular gastronomic weekend in the Rocky Mountains.
MEET OUR TEAM
Nicole has 15 years of experience producing live events and experiences built on the platform of creating community. Curation, collaboration, community building and placemaking are the intentions encompassing Nicole’s work.
Nicole has produced over 1,200 events throughout Colorado, raising close to $5M for non-profit organizations. Nicole’s professional relationship with Steamboat started in 2012 during the 5 year run of the USA Pro Challenge the 7 day, professional, stage racing cycling event encompassed Colorado.
With a strong emphasis on making vision a reality and focusing on true, authentic experiences, Nicole is really excited to bring her passion to this new venture.
Chef Patrick Ayres
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Chef Patrick Ayres moved to Steamboat Springs in 2001 to begin high school. In 2003, his restaurant career began as a busser in the same building that now houses Aurum Food and Wine. After high school, Chef Ayres returned to Louisiana to attend Louisiana Culinary Institute. Upon graduation he made his way to Seattle, WA where after climbing the ladder, he served as Executive Sous Chef at the James Beard Award-winning Canlis Restaurant from 2010 until 2013. Chef Patrick and his wife, Kaylee, had their first daughter while in Seattle and quickly thereafter decided it was time to head back to Colorado. The first stepping-stone back to Steamboat was a position as Executive Chef at the beautiful High Lonesome Ranch for two years. That experience set Chef Ayres up to move back home and open Cloverdale Farm and Restaurant where they achieved numerous accolades and national press but unfortunately had to close at the end of 2018.
Chef Ayres is Culinary Director for the Steamboat Food & Wine Festival, working closely with each chef on menu choices and collaborations to create a truly memorable experience. He is also a member of the team at Destination Hospitality Group and assisting in developing each of their restaurants with his knowledge and experiences in the culinary world. Not many Chefs get to bring their career back full-circle to the same building where it all began.
Jeff Black’s life and career have been driven by two passions—outdoor sports and good food. Growing up in Southern California, he spent his summers lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons at the beach and his winters skiing in the mountains.
After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 1982, he headed back to Los Angeles and began his event-planning career with the 1984 Los Angles Olympic Games. Jeff continued his involvement with the Summer Games and worked on four Olympic Torch Relays—Los Angeles, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Athens, Greece.
After the 2004 Olympic Games, Jeff left the sporting world to focus his other love, food and wine. For the past six years, he has led the charge for the Celebrity Chef Tour Benefiting the James Beard Foundation. This tour brings great chefs to cities around the country for an unforgettable night of food and drink. Under Jeff’s leadership, these tour dinners have raised over $850,000 to fund scholarships in culinary arts through the James Beard Foundation.
Jeff travels extensively and usually spends more time on the road than at home. In fact, North Dakota is the only state in the US that he has not visited. He is currently looking into a Celebrity Chef Tour dinner in Fargo.
Jeff resides in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where he enjoys year-round outdoor adventure…and of course, good food and drink.
Hunter Charmness was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. After years of visiting Steamboat Springs during school breaks, he moved to Steamboat to pursue his love of everything outdoors. He took a job at Home Ranch working his way from washing dishes up to prep cook. He fell in love with cooking under the direction of Chef Clyde Nelson. His next adventure took him to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London and interned at the Goring Hotel under Chef Derek Quelch.
Upon returning to the US, he took a position with the staff at Luca D’Italia in Denver under the direction of restauranteur Frank Bonnano. After several years at Luca, Hunter took a roll as sous chef opening Bones next door. A life curveball took Hunter to the Pacific Northwest where he worked at James Beard award winning restaurant Crush in Seattle.
Settling back in Colorado with his wife and children, Hunter opened Boxcar Restaurant a gastropub in Avon. After several successful years, Hunter closed the restaurant which opened up more time for life as a food rep with Shamrock foods and life as a husband and father. In his free time, Hunter enjoys fly fishing, skiing, mountain biking and seeking adventure. Hunter is very excited to be joining this stellar team putting together an event like the Steamboat Food & Wine Festival.