How Chef Patrick Dunn Crafts Element 47’s Indulgence Menu [Q&A]

patrick dunn element 47 aspenPatrick Dunn, Chef de Cuisine at element 47, crafts the restaurant’s constantly-changing indulgence menu. This five-course tasting menu highlights the daily foraged harvest, fish monger’s catch + other seasonal ingredients.

Every Wednesday, Patrick visits The Little Nell Gardens at Emma Farms in Basalt to pick-up the week’s harvest. He then uses those ingredients to map out the items for his indulgence menu, ensuring that he uses as many fresh, sustainable ingredients he can. We asked Patrick to share details on his process for creating this unique menu.

The Little Nell: What did you harvest this week?

Patrick Dunn: On Wednesday (July 29), we harvested chard, spring onions, carrot tops, nasturtium flowers, leaves, basil, parsley, arugula, radish, chive blossoms, leeks, cucumbers, cabbage, squash, beets. The best part about the farm is the dialogue I have with the growers during harvest. I basically show and tell them what we want in terms of size, then they strategize and execute it. Recently, we’ve been picking very tender and young carrot tops to thin the crops and then it makes for a great garnish in the restaurant as this 1 leave looks beautiful and tastes like an amazing carrot. Having that dialogue is essential so they can grow things that I otherwise can’t buy. Working with them on is the most inspiring part of the process. I think next year we will see a lot more out of the garden after having a year in with learning the ropes.

the little nell gardens at emma farms
TLN: What’s on the menu this week that incorporates ingredients you harvested?

PD: We’re using everything we harvested this week somewhere on the menu:
– Nasturtium flowers garnish the duck strozzapreti
– We use the leaves for our amuse bouche with peas
– Chard and squash are used on the salmon
– Spring onions are used on the duck
– Radish, chive blossoms and beets are on the vegetable salad
– Carrot tops are on the cauliflower steak

We also pickle cucumbers for lunch items and cabbage will turn to sauerkraut for the fall.

aspen restaurant element 47
TLN: Are there any inspirations for your menu you can reveal?

PD: We’ll add leeks to the tasting menu tomorrow (August 3) with our new A-5 Wagyu dish featuring local cherries from Paonia. Arugula is currently on the tasting menu. I designed the menu around summer produce and as the seasons change, the menu evolves. This week on the a la carte menu, we’re changing the lamb dish’s sides from peas to potatoes, charred onion puree and tomatoes, all coming from local farms. The duck dish is also changing as the rhubarb from Paonia is becoming too fibrous while the cherries are amazing. We really look at what’s growing at the local farms and at The Little Nell Gardens and adjust the menu as that produce changes. You just can’t beat local small farm products like that.

To taste Patrick’s indulgence menu for yourself, make a dinner reservation at element 47 by calling 970.920.6330 or emailing