Open for not much longer than a week, chef/owner Mark Krasic says the idea behind Zest is simple: to provide a large selection of gourmet dishes that are good, affordable and fast. And yes, Zest also provides Telluride’s only salad bar, where customers can build a fresh salad to their liking.
Within the large, brightly lit deli case, Krasic and his beloved crew provide three different greens mixes to lay a salad foundation and then offer 12 to 15 salad toppings to choose from. For the set price, $6.50 (small), $9.50 (large) salads can be prepared using four salad ingredients with a dressing, and then each topping after that is $.50 extra.
“This provides people a good option for a good salad,” Krasic says, adding a salad bar is something Telluride has needed for a long time. For those who are looking for a soup and salad combo, Zest has just that. For a lunch portion, a soup-and-salad special runs $6.50, and for a dinner it cost $8.50. All of Zest’s soups are made fresh and in-house, and Krasic intends to have two prepared daily.
Krasic is no stranger to feeding Telluride’s hunger. His catering business, Krasic’s Cuisine, has been in existence since 2000, and for the past nine years he’s catered to hundreds of film buffs at the popular Telluride Film Festival Feed.
Krasic got his culinary start when he attended L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Md., back in 1991. From there, he became sous chef at the historic Kent Manor Inn on the eastern shore of Maryland, where he later became head chef. It was there where Krasic received his experience catering to large groups.
In 1995, Krasic came to Colorado for his sister’s wedding and he knew then he would be back. Between Colorado and California, Krasic continued his catering and finally in 2000, to get away from the California crowds, he decided to make Telluride his home – and Krasic’s Cuisine was created.
Now, with his new space above Clark’s Market, Krasic wants to cater to all of Telluride with Zest. Besides the salad bar, Zest offers up a daily hot-plate special that includes one protein, one vegetable, one starch and a dinner roll for $7.50 (lunch) and $9.50 (dinner). Protein items include pulled pork barbecue, beef bourguignon, chicken marsala, shrimp scampi, Maryland crab cakes, and bacon-wrapped pork loin with fresh herbs, to name just a few.
“I love slower-cooked foods,” Krasic says. “Braising foods brings out so much more flavor, and you have to take the time to cook it. I like a lot of classic, rustic cooking but I also like to incorporate local flavors as well.”
Starches include items like a double-stuffed potato with white cheddar and bacon, and mashed potatoes. And for those who stick to vegetarian, there’s plenty to choose from as well, including Portobello mushrooms stuffed Mediterranean style; stir-fry vegetables with snow peas, zucchini, squash and spring onions; and roasted root vegetable medley.
Looking to take dinner home to the family? Proteins range from $7.50 to $14.50 with sides costing $3.50 (single), $6 (double) and $8.50 (triple). And since Zest is located in the west end of Telluride close to the high school, Krasic offers a discount to students and faculty and has a punch card program set up to entice repeat visits. If you have time, there’s plenty of room to dine at Zest, and if the weather’s nice, enjoy lunch out on its large patio.
“We have plenty of parking so that’s not an issue, and we provide good service that’s fast and affordable,” Krasic says.
Call-ahead orders are taken at 970/728-8874 for an even quicker experience. Zest is open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Contact Gus Jarvis at email@example.com or @gusgusj