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Cacciatore At Heller's Kitchen - Deliciously Elevated

Old World Charm Collides With Complexity & Beauty

Article by Desiree Gustafson

Photography by David Grossman with Colorado Photography

Originally published in Windsor City Lifestyle

Troy Heller grew up cooking and while being a chef may be something that began out of necessity, it has become his life, his passion, and a labor of love. He began his chef journey at a fried chicken restaurant at the age of 14. Not long after that, he transitioned to working under the one chef, Anthony Chick, from the time he was 15, until around the age of 25 in various restaurants in Florida. By working his way up, he eventually became Anthony’s sous chef and gained notoriety within the company, ultimately, being offered a regional manager position for a restaurant in New Orleans called The Point at Algiers Landing. A unique restaurant because of its location, it sat on the sharpest point of the Mississippi River right after Canal Street where the river bends 45 degrees. Throughout his career, Troy has continued to work at numerous historical properties including The Plaines Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming and as the Executive Chef of the Stanley Hotel for the first 8 years he was in Colorado. “My favorite part, initially when you get into the restaurant business and you start cooking it is all about the adrenaline and pace and being on time and the timing of cooking and delivering an experience in a few minutes under extreme pressure, it is challenging. And then it becomes a creative thing where now you are trying to do all those same things but you’re trying to elevate and create dishes that are complex and exciting and beautiful in that same environment and then you’re trying to bring that all together in an environment that you operate and take ownership of and that can be extremely gratifying,” states Troy. 

One of the first places that Troy helped to develop was Ace Gillett’s in downtown Fort Collins. He designed the kitchen there and the tapas menu that was rated number one in northern Colorado. The potential goal from there was to grow into a space within the hotel that Ace Gillett’s was located in. After the hotel sold and that fell through, he went back to the drawing board. Working with his partner, Mick Occhiato, they had the Jessup Farm opportunity sort of fall into their laps and the concept for Italian was conceived. 

The original location for Cacciatore was in Fort Collins, in Jessup Farm and they operated out of that location for about 6 years. When sourcing for talent within the labor pool became scarce, they decided to change the concept for the restaurant and switch gears into tacos, tequila, and margaritas. Having already outlined the concept of the restaurant in Fort Collins, they had a basic roadmap laid out for their future location right here in Windsor. 

The opportunity to come to Windsor was by happenstance. They had investigated the building ten years prior, but at the time, it was not in the cards. Troy's partner Mick reached out to the owners, Blue Ocean, who had a fire occur, resulting in the original tenants for the space dropping off. When Troy, Laurie, and Mick came to walk through the space, it was just a shell of a burned-out building. Entering through what would later be the west room, there were boards leaning up against the dirt as an entrance, all the windows were blown out, birds living inside, dirty floors, water running down the walls, it took an imaginative and artistic eye to see the potential of what the space could become. The bones of the building, the brick, the cathedral style windows, the lake view, and the historical value of the 1884 building were something that appealed to Troy and Laurie immediately.  Envisioning what they could create based on a model that had already been developed, they went to work creating their dream space.

Even with 100s of cookbooks and years of experience, Troy Heller is always researching to improve the taste, quality, and health of the recipes he creates and serves his customers. From new technologies and trends, to researching the history of towns and their hometown dishes; he dives into where their chilies come from, or what their cheese is like, what cooking techniques that dish features, or the style of pasta it has, in order to give each dish the authenticity and taste that can rival the regions they originate from. 

Not only is the food authentic, but Chef Heller also goes above and beyond to make sure his restaurant is procuring and cooking with the healthiest products. Steering the menu in a healthy direction is paramount to Troy, he wants you to be able to come in and eat a pizza or a plate of pasta and leave feeling satisfied and content. Heading the menu in a health-conscious direction, they only use olive oil in anything they cook, including sauces and dressing, nothing is fried in canola oil but instead peanut oil, they source products as locally as they can so that they can know the farmers and production processes intimately and they only use flour from Italy. Everything is made from scratch for every ingredient, in every dish. Aiming for their food to be beautiful and delicious but also something you can also feel good about eating, it is all about the outcome. This is a goal they are always working towards, consciously putting them leaps and bounds ahead of most restaurants in the country.  

To add to an already impressive list of achievements, Troy also hunts, cures his own bacon, and cans, with a cellar full of fresh salsas, sauces, meat, potatoes and more. He makes all the sausage for the restaurant from scratch and cures the pancetta in house for all the dishes. His favorite meal to cook for himself is breakfast (might be because it is the only meal he gets to cook for himself) and if he could have one meal as his last, it would one hundred percent be fried chicken, done well of course.  

The Hellers are super grateful for the love and support from the Windsor community during Covid and how the town of Windsor showed up for them in their difficult times too, the community has helped Laurie and Troy create an environment that they consider home. The Cacciatore motto “Come in as our guests and leave as family” is something that carries over into their employees as well. They enjoy being a real part of the fabric of the community and to have the chance to offer up their vision, that lives up to their standards and leaves people wanting to come back for more.

The Cacciatore Motto

“Come in as our guests and leave as family!”

  • Grilled Peach Bruschetta
  • Bartender Jordan Sanchez at work!
  • Italian Bourbon Sour
  • Troy Heller with one of his signature dishes!
  • Seafood Orchiette

Businesses featured in this article