Two weeks ago, Denver lost a really great chef, and person. My cousin, Dustin Rupoli, unfortunately passed away at the far too young age of 31. My fondest memories of Dustin are from when we were kids, and he was already showing his culinary flair. Let's be honest here, there's not too many nine year olds making breakfast for the kids at their sleep over. But Dustin was that kid. We all knew that Dustin was going to be a great Chef. When he left to go to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, we were all beaming as he was taking his first steps into a promising career. Dustin would come home for Christmas, and make incredible meals with my mom for Christmas Eve. I remember him teaching me cooking techniques, and introducing me to dishes that I had never experienced.

When he finished school, and his internships, he moved back to Denver. Here in Denver, Dustin worked at some great restaurants, including Rizo, NoRTH, and Bloom.  One of my proudest moments was when he and my mom cooked a spaghetti dinner for 2000 people at the Festival Italiano in Bel Mar. It gained so much attention that he and my mom had their red sauce recipe published in the Rocky Mountain News.

After some time, he decided that it was time for some new surroundings. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and worked at restaurants such as Radius 10, The Merchant, Barefoot Charlies, and Americo. I was able to share his success out there vicariously through what my Uncle sent via email. Our family missed having him close, but we always knew he was following his passion out in Tennessee.

Dustin returned to Denver just seven months ago, and started working at the Timberline Steakhouse. And unfortunately for him, our family, and the city of Denver, his time was too short on this earth. I'm not writing this as a tearful memorial, but as a celebration of the gifts he gave us. So if you've ever eaten at NoRTH or Bloom, or enjoyed my blog and love for food, then you've enjoyed a little bit of Dustin's passion. Please keep that with you, and keep his family in your thoughts and prayers, as you enjoy your next meal.

Buon Appetito

  • MR

    A great honor to a great chef. Thanks for sharing- and though Dustin will be missed, it’s always great when you can carry on through your trade and the art that you blessed the world with.