Hosea Rosenberg is a gypsy. Not one that moves from town to town hanging his shingle out for a season until moving on. No, his journey is a more personal one of selfreinvention where he is continually pushing his culinary boundaries in different directions. Some succeed, some fail, but the lessons learned stay with him. And it all is on display at his newest endeavor Blackbelly Market.
When Rosenberg graduated from the University of Colorado in 1997 with a degree in engineering physics, he never imagined he would be headed for culinary greatness.
“I wanted to be an astronomer,” Rosenberg says. But soon, his first move happened. “After working at a lab in NCAR I realized I was bored out of my mind. I missed the excitement of working in the kitchen — I had put myself through school working in one.”
So he decided to follow a different path and dove into restaurants.
Fast-forward several years and apprenticeships under such luminaries as Wolfgang Puck, Kevin Taylor, Sean Yontz and Dave Query, he found himself as the executive chef at Pearl Street mainstay Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar. It was an achievement many would consider career-culminating — not Rosenberg.
“I heard about a cooking competition called the Flatiron Chef that happened monthly at the Omni Interlocken and I thought I could win that,” Rosenberg says.
He did on his first try and then remained undefeated for seven straight months until he resigned his position as champ to move on to something bigger and better. In 2009 he became the fifth champion of Top Chef, a nationally tele vised cooking competition pitting him against some of the best up-and-coming chefs in the nation. His comfort food with a twist was a hit. He was a star. It was time to try something new.
In 2010 he launched StrEat Chefs with several partners. The food truck offered high-quality eats normally found in sit down restaurants. It seemed destined for success, with plans to launch nationally. Unfortunately a variety of issues plagued the operation and they had to park it one year later. But it also birthed Rosenberg’s next act.
“Once we closed we had several events booked so I decided to honor them and that just steamrolled into this awesome high-end, farm-to-table boutique catering company,” he says.
Over the next three years, Rosenberg built up his catering business Blackbelly Catering, learning the ins and outs of the business as he went along. Ever the adventurer, he launched a farm, Blackbelly Farm, to ensure his ingredients were the best.
“Damn hard work to run a farm, even one as small as ours, but the lessons learned are invaluable,” Rosenberg says. Over time, more and more bookings arrived.
As Rosenberg was looking for a spot to build a commissary kitchen to support his ever-expanding business, the idea of a restaurant was far from his mind.
“I knew one day I wanted to have my own restaurant but that was in the future, the catering business had all of my focus,” Rosenberg says.
And then fate intervened again.
As he looked over the large space he had decided upon for his new kitchen, he realized it could be so much more. He envisioned something revolutionary, something different that would call upon all his talents. Blackbelly Market is part restaurant, part bar, part market, part catering company and part butcher shop.
With a full butchering operation in the back all of the meats served are local. Half cows, full sheep, whole pigs, turkeys, chickens and more are all processed on site with every part being used.
“We are following a snout-to-tail philosophy and allowing me to work with every part of an animal,” Rosenberg says. “One day we will feature pork tenderloin, the next chops, and so on. It pushes my creativity into new areas.”
As soon as final inspections are passed they will be offering a wide array of salumi, cured meats, sausages and fresh cuts for sale in the market.
“Boulder does not have an independent butcher shop except Whole Foods. I want to help fill that void,” Rosenberg says.
The market also gives Rosenberg an opportunity to showcase his food truck skills.
“The breakfast burritos and sandwiches are items we would sometimes offer on the truck,” Rosenberg says. It is the perfect grab-and-go spot.
Ever the innovator, he also is introducing another hot trend to Boulder: bone broth. Packed in nutrients, it is like soup stock loaded with flavor. You can get a bowl to go from the market for lunch or a package of it for home.
Also on site is a rotisserie, something not often seen in town.
“I always wanted to play around with one, to see what flavors I could bring out with one,” Rosenberg says. “Right now I am cooking beets with pork fat dripping down on them to pair with my pork special tonight. It should be delicious.”
Playing to his science background there are sous-vide cookers on site and two smokers out back (the cold smoke one he designed himself ).
“Being able to interact with customers one-on-one is something I was missing doing in the catering business. This enables me to do that while still hosting events,” Rosenberg says. “It’s been great and business is booming every night. I cannot wait to open up the two outside decks.”
His endeavors have clearly been noticed as he has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in September. It will be his first time solo — he has cooked there three other times as part of a team.
As for where his journey will take him next who knows, but he does have a few ideas.
“I would love to write a cookbook, open a few more restaurants, and hopefully cook on Iron Chef one day, but right now I am focused on making this a success,” Rosenberg says.
With Blackbelly Market packed since opening day, and recent recognition from Zagat as one of the country’s 15 hottest restaurant openings, success seems likely. Given Rosenberg’s work ethic, success seems inevitable.