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‘It’s five-star’

Says award-winning executive chef about Wind Crest

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August 20th, 2014
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Like many in Denver, Colo., Anthony Falco is a transplant. But unlike most of his new neighbors, it’s not hard to tell where he’s from. His accent is a dead giveaway.

The Long Island, N.Y., native moved to the Denver area in March to head the culinary department at Crest, the Erickson Living community in Highlands Ranch. 

He left an executive chef position at Mill River Inn, a Zagat-rated New American cuisine restaurant in Oyster Bay, on the North Shore of Long Island, to take on the growing dining department at one of Denver’s most highly regarded continuing care retirement communities. 

“I was looking for a change of scenery after Hurricane Sandy,” says Falco, whose home was practically demolished after the September 2012 megastorm. “My brother and mom had moved out here, and I followed them.”

From Zagat-rated to five-star

He discovered Wind Crest among a handful of other retirement communities, but it was the only one that stood out. “I had looked at about ten other retirement communities but didn’t even apply,” he says. 

But when he met Wind Crest Dining Director Marcus Cordova, “I really enjoyed his personality, his vision, his energy. We clicked.”

After touring the community, Falco was hooked: “I love the way the place looks. It’s five-star, in my opinion. It’s obviously not your standard retirement community.”

As executive chef, he manages the community’s restaurants, cafes, convenience store, and dining at its on-site continuing care neighborhood. With such broad clientele and venues, Falco says he looks forward to the “opportunity to make a variety of menus and use all my experiences instead of one particular cuisine.”

And that’s where Wind Crest’s residents will certainly benefit. 

Falco’s culinary experience spans the globe. He’s traveled the world tasting cuisine and learning techniques, from Vietnam and Cambodia to Japan and Italy. 

On trips, he and a culinary colleague would hop in a cab and ask the cab driver how they could learn to make authentic Thai food. Most of the time, the cab driver would invite them into his home where they would learn authentic techniques and ingredients, which he applies to his menus today. 

In Vietnam, he learned to combine Vietnamese ingredients with French techniques. “Vietnamese is my favorite cuisine. The French influence is amazing to me. They have wonderful, light food with French ingredients and Vietnamese ingredients,” he says of the country that uses more butter than any other country in Asia.

In Tokyo, Japan, he sampled some of the best seafood on the planet. “Their cold, cold water makes great seafood,” he says.

And in Milan, Italy, he focused on his Italian roots.

A taste of Chef Falco

“Geography determines my favorite food,” Falco says. “If I had to choose, it’d be shellfish—clams, mussels, lobster.” But you can find just about anything on the menus he creates for Wind Crest. 

“My goal is to be number one in food and service,” he says. “I want to showcase all my life experiences and travel and be able to affect residents on a daily basis. This is their home, so you want to go over the top for them.”

The community currently has one restaurant and an informal café, but it will soon open its second neighborhood. McHenry’s Crossing, due to open in November, will be home to Windows Restaurant, a 90-seat restaurant that boasts beautiful views of the historic High Line Canal and High Line Canal Trail from indoor and outdoor tables. 

The Blue Sky Bistro will be located on the first floor, at the entrance into the building, and will serve coffee and tea along with to-go-style yogurts, bagels, muffins, and other pastries. 

“The bistro will be a nice place to sit and enjoy a cup with friends, read a book, or even sit down at one of the computer monitors to check your email or get online,” says Sales Director Jason Atwell.

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