Nelson, a native of Colorado, spent 15 years in the securities brokerage business before packing up his young family and moving to New York to attend the French Culinary Institute. Nelson graduated among the top of his class, earning the Grand Diplome de Cuisine, then spent time following graduation interning, trailing and working at a number of acclaimed New York restaurants including Blue Hill. Nelson still considers himself new to the industry and continues to be very much “self-taught”.
Nelson is an appointed member of the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Advisory Board. He considers Julia Child, Dan Barber, Marco Pierre White, Jacques Pepin, and his parents to be among his strongest culinary influences. In addition, he credits years of travel, cooking, adventure and time spent on his family’s ranch with forming his gastronomical tastes. His agricultural background and the “country” living of his youth have greatly influenced his use of offal and his passion for curing and charcuterie. His food philosophy is to use the best available ingredients and treat them gently.
Nelson and his wife Allison opened Colt & Gray (named after their two oldest children – Coulter and Grayson), in August of 2009. This summer they will be expanding Colt & Gray, adding private dining space, Ste. Ellie (bar/speakeasy), and Viande a USDA curing facility. Nelson is forever thankful to Allison for her support in allowing him to chase this dream.