Tim Kuklinski

Culinary Director
The Crafted Concepts restaurants:
Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Stoic & Genuine and Ultreia

Denver is lucky to be the last stop for Tim Kuklinski. A peripatetic childhood took him back and forth across the country. Stops in Rome, New York; Pottstown, Pennsylvania; Norman, Oklahoma; Tucson, Arizona and Omaha, Nebraska preceded finally settling in Denver for his culinary school education at Johnson & Wales University.

Tim’s foray into a civil engineering degree path at University of Nebraska proved disappointing when he realized he couldn’t bring passion to the craft. Culinary school beckoned and it was on Denver’s Johnson & Wales campus that Tim found his life’s work. He met and befriended chef Jorel Pierce, another JWU undergrad, and together they advanced through the job progression at Rioja to form the backbone of the award-winning kitchen.

Others characterize Tim’s food as feminine, a description that vexed him until he stepped back and realized that his culinary influences have been predominantly women beginning with his mom who worked full time but still found time to cook “from scratch” meals every night for Tim and his family. Working alongside James Beard award-winning Chef/Owner Jennifer Jasinski and now Work + Class Chef/Owner Dana Rodriguez gave Tim the basis for his style. Constant reading of menus, cookbooks, trade publications and simply scouring the web allow Tim to continue his education, learn new ingredients and acquire innovative techniques he employs on the Crafted Concepts menus.

Tim took 6 months away from the Rioja kitchen to round out his skills at Euclid Hall, a sister restaurant serving hand cranked sausages, poutines, schnitzels and upgraded international pub food. He has also staged at Michelin-starred Grace and Graham Elliott in Chicago, then returned to Rioja as Executive Chef with a newfound sense of creativity and energy. He assumed the role of Culinary Director over all five Crafted Concepts restaurants where he manages, cajoles, encourages and monitors the chefs and cooks that create Denver’s best food.

Tim lives in the Edgewater neighborhood in west Denver, with his wife Erin and their two kids Logan and Nolan. Their mixed breed cat Albert welcomes everyone at the front door. They enjoy the sense of community the neighborhood provides along with the culinary scene including US Thai, GB’s Fish & Chips and local watering hole, Sloan’s.