Father-son chefs want to cook the stuff of ‘Legends’ at new Breckenridge restaurant
February 18, 2018
The owner of Legends Steaks & Italian restaurant, Alan Bullock, says the name simmers from the idea of "having legendary food, legendary service and providing an all-around legendary experience."
Rewinding that statement, everything legendary begins with the food, Bullock continued, introducing the man responsible for Legends' menu, 39-year-old executive chef Jeremy Caprari, son of 59-year-old Ray Caprari, who also happens to be Legends' sous-chef.
As far as the food goes, Bullock is banking on the Capraris' old Italian recipes — with some of Jeremy's more modern twists — that have been in their family for generations, along with a combined 60-plus years of experience preparing them between the two.
"My job is to run around and talk to all the tables," Bullock said, adding that he likes to wait until people gets their meal, "because I know, when I approach the table, they're going to be in a much better mood than they were before they got the food. Everybody is basically like, 'This is amazing.'"
Bullock said he regularly recommends people try the Tuscan grilled oysters, traditionally made sambuco, a steak or the halibut. Legends' mussels might be their best sellers, but Bullock said you can't really go wrong picking anything off the list.
The menu itself is slimmed down in an effort to emphasize quality over quantity of choices, though Jeremy does plan to regularly rotate out the items with a focus on seasonal ingredients. He's excited to start pushing out some specials too.
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Still, the arrangement inside the kitchen at Legends, in which the son dictates and the father follows, is an interesting one.
But things haven't always been this way.
Ray is a "full-blooded Italian" from Long Island, New York, and with 42 years' experience as a chef, and he's been cooking for a profession longer than his son's been alive.
Naturally, Jeremy got his start in the kitchen with his father. However, it actually came in the form of a punishment, Jeremy recalled, after he shot and killed a bird with a BB gun when he was about 12 years old.
About eight years after the bird, Ray and Jeremy were featured in The Mackinac Island Town Crier, a community newspaper that focused on the father-and-son culinary team, just as Ray was taking over the Chippewa Hotel's kitchen in Mackinac Island, Michigan, in 1999.
The family is close, and they sometimes rib each other. Still, Ray was the best man at both of Jeremy's weddings, and working with recipes handed down from Ray Caprari's grandmother, Jeremy's great-grandmother, the younger Caprari said they learn something new from each other almost daily.
Watching his son work, Ray sees similarities between the two. Jeremy is laser focused, stays busy and is always trying new things, Ray said, adding that if there's one area where Jeremy has taken things farther than the father ever could, it's with his son's culinary creativity.
"I'm old-school," Ray said. "I learned by the old methods and the way things used to be. (My son) takes it to another level."
New twists on some of the more traditional Italian sauces and dishes, and his plate presentations, are just a couple areas in which Ray has been exceptionally impressed with his son's aptitude.
"I'm actually learning a lot from him," Ray said, "and I can't say that about many I've worked in the kitchen with because, usually, I'm the teacher."
Jeremy found his way to Legends after having worked at the Beaver Run Resort, and meeting Bullock through that position and through another family member.
While Jeremy knew he wanted to return to Colorado, he didn't initially know his father would be coming too. That, too, was somewhat of a surprise.
"We had a nasty hurricane hit called Irma, and that destroyed the place I was living (in Naples, Florida)," Ray said. "Jeremy said, 'Hey, you got no place to go. Why don't you come out here?'"
The Capraris are working out of a totally remodeled restaurant that has been shaped to remind people of other fine-dining establishments in major cities like New York or Chicago in the 1920s and '30s.
"When people walk in, I want them to think we've been here 50 years," Bullock said.
Old-timey photographs of "local legends" adorn the walls, and Legends' interior is all-new with wine racks abound, an expanded patio and a new, private speakeasy dining room in the basement, just to name a few of the upgrades. Less obvious is the work that's been put into redoing the restaurant's electric and plumbing systems, and Bullock said the whole project took more than eight months. The only thing that remained the same was the decorative ceiling and long wooden bar that many people might remember from when the restaurant at 215 S. Ridge St. operated under the banner "Tillies."
The Capraris are together in the kitchen again, and they're on a mission "to blow this county away with some good food, some real Italian food, some nice classical food," Ray said.
In addition to Ray, Jeremy's mother, brother and daughter are all helping out at Legends as well.
This story originally published on Nov. 28, 2017 on summitdaily.com. It appeared in the Explore Summit Spring magazine in 2018.
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