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Denver’s Chop Shop Cooks Up Sous Vide Comfort Food

The local counter-service chain offers up dishes like 48-Hour Slow-Cooked Short Rib and Grilled Achiote Salmon.

By Sara Johnson

“Good food shouldn’t be reserved for lengthy special occasion meals,” Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery, a Denver-based restaurant chain, wrote in an Instagram post last May. Clint Wangsnes, chef/owner of Chop Shop, explains that he wanted to create “a restaurant that could focus on all the same fundamentals of fine dining, but yet fill that niche of feeding families or people that just want a good meal and don’t want to mess with all the hassle of everything else.”

Chop Shop opened its first location in 2014, and has since expanded to three restaurants—two in the city of Denver and one in nearby Englewood. Menu selections include standard American fare such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soups as well as fried rice dishes, fried tofu, and desserts such as crème brûlée and cheesecake. “I like to call it chef-driven elevated comfort food with a focus on fresh ingredients,” Wangsnes says.

Despite the emphasis on fresh ingredients, Chop Shop’s counter-service restaurants are designed to live up to the “casual” in their name. “Everything that we’re doing… we’re trying to be able to produce within 8 to 10 minutes,” Wangsnes says. “We like to call it skillfully crafted, quickly served. So with that in mind, we built a big portion of our menu using the sous vide method.”

All indicated by a special icon, the menu’s sous vide items include 48-Hour Slow-Cooked Short Rib, Grilled Bistro Filet, Crispy Fried All-Natural Chicken, and Grilled Achiote Salmon. Sous vide also appears in the kids menu—with Grilled Steak, Grilled Chicken, and Crispy Chicken Fingers.

“I think a lot of people would be surprised at how a lot of larger concepts are doing controlled cooking like that,” Wangsnes says. “But not on the level that we’re doing it. We’re bringing a much more fine-dining flair to it.”

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