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Randolph’s chef brings a whole new meaning to “locally sourced” with his rooftop honey

There are many chefs who locally source their food within the state and even Denver. And then there’s Jesper Jonsson. When he needs ingredients, he simply heads to the rooftop. It’s there that Jonsson, Executive Chef at Randolph’s inside the Warwick Hotel, keeps some 150,000 bees—the honey from which he transforms into dressings, cocktails, and more at the North Cap Hill eatery.
Formerly the helicopter pad for the Playboy Club, the roof is an ideal home for Jonsson to maintain his hives—and not just because of the restaurant proximity. “Bees fare well in urban areas, because the use of pesticides is at a minimum, and there is plenty of water sources. Large predators are usually not a problem either,” he said. “We are also located close to several parks and green spaces, after all, any farming requires an abundance of areas for foraging.”
Cheese Plate with Honey
But the impetus for keeping bees went beyond a cookbook. Jonsson took interest initially because of locally sourced honey’s ability to combat allergies. It didn’t take long afterward for Jonsson to become fascinated with the little workers. “For many new bee keepers it starts with the honey, but shortly thereafter, a true passion for the complex life of these little insects become obvious—and a desire to learn and understand what goes on in the hive undeniable,” Jonsson said. “The life in the hives is so complex, and the interaction of these docile insects so interesting that just by observing their behavior, one can easily become hooked on bees.”
Jonsson has become an advocate for bees and is working hard to break misconceptions. “Bees are often mistaken for other stinging insect, and therefore, most peoples fear these little docile insects,” he said. “However bees are usually not interested in human food, and rarely are bee stings actually from honey bees. Beekeepers all over America are opening whole hives without any protection daily, and unless a bee gets squished, they very rarely sting.”
Jonsson encourages people to be informed and to buy good local honey, as it’s beneficial not just to the consumers, but to the beekeepers, as well “in their hard fight against hive collapse disorder.” That is an area he is passionate about—spreading the word that bees need urgent help. “The importance of honey bees in our lives is greatly unknown to most people, even though we simply can’t continue to exist the way we do much longer if changes aren’t made immediately,” he explained. “Bees are responsible for pollinating a vast array of crops from almonds, grapes, beets, avocados, and many, many more—in total about 25 percent of the produce we consume.” As Albert Einstein said, “If bees go extinct, humans will follow four years later.”

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