Boulder Chef Daniel Asher to be inducted into les Disciples d'Escoffier, a prestigious society of culinary arts

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Jan. 24—Ever since opening the Boulder restaurant River and Woods in 2016, Chef Daniel Asher has done nothing but good things for the local food scene.

Those who have dined there can probably agree: What having a meal at River and Woods does for your stomach is what wearing a snuggie does for your soul. Both experiences transport you into a world of comfort and ease that allows you to momentarily transcend life's pain.

While diving into a bowl of River and Woods' smokey bacon mac 'n' cheese, it is entirely possible to forget that taxes are due, or that Taco Bell has discontinued the Quesarito, or that the new season of "The Crown" wasn't very good.

Asher's many talents for imparting joy extend far beyond the kitchen. In fact, in addition to operating River and Woods, Acreage Cider House and Restaurant in Lafayette and Ash'Kara in Denver, Asher is also a staunch advocate for food equity, social justice and regenerative agriculture. He's worked with the James Beard Chef Action Network, Slow Food USA Cook's Alliance, World Central Kitchen Chef Corps and Zero Foodprint. He was also a recipient of the 2015 Philanthropist Award from the Colorado Restaurant Association for his work with nonprofits in Colorado and beyond.

And while it's one thing for a local journalist to enjoy and appreciate Asher's work, it's an entirely different story to be recognized by one of the foremost culinary organizations on the planet.

On Friday, Asher will be inducted into the les Disciples d'Escoffier, a prestigious invitation-only society of chefs, food and wine producers, sommeliers and culinary and hospitality-industry professionals created to honor Auguste Escoffier, often lauded as the "Father of Modern Cuisine."

"Auguste Escoffier emphasized social responsibility, improving working conditions, organization and front and back-of-the-house relations," said Kirk Bachmann, president and provost of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder. "Chef Daniel espouses the core values of caring, consideration and thoughtfulness in his approach to cuisine, guest relations and giving back. It's only natural that he be recognized by les Disciples d'Escoffier for the contributions he's made to our industry and the craft of cooking."

Auguste Escoffier's flesh and blood — his great-great-grandson Michel Escoffier — will present Asher with the award, welcoming him into the society with a tap on each shoulder. In a ceremony befitting a knight, but instead of using a sword, Escoffier will brandish a wooden spoon.

For Asher, this moment is a capstone in his expansive, accolade-laden career.

"Being recognized by Les Disciples d'Escoffier is a tremendous honor and a very humbling opportunity to pause and reflect," Asher said. "I have spent every year of my life since the age of 14 immersed in the realm of commercial kitchens. This is a pinnacle highlight of my culinary career, and I am so grateful to our global community of food service workers for sustaining the beauty of hospitality.

"It is a noble calling to take care of strangers, to be in service to guests, to nourish, to feed, to love and to delight," Asher said. "Cooking is one of the most ancient crafts of humankind, born by fire and refined by taste. It is rooted in the simple act of inviting in a weary traveler, and bringing them a warm plate of food and a beverage to restore and comfort the soul."

Asher is joining a rather exclusive group of culinary experts. In Boulder, only seven other individuals have been inducted into the club: Antonio Laudisio, Erik Skokan and Ashlea Tobeck. These are alongside Jesper Jonsson, Dan Widman, Michael Scott and Kirk Bachmann — four chefs from Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

Anne Cure of Cure Farms and Steven Nalls of Three Sisters Farm & Ranch will also be inducted into the society at Friday's ceremony.