TROY GUARD: Chef/Owner, TAG Restaurant Group

Born in Hawaii and raised between there and San Diego, Troy Guard spent much of his youth in either the ocean or the kitchen. As a passionate young chef, Guard took much joy in preparing special meals for his family. As he worked his way through college and the culinary ranks, Guard trained at all five of San Diego’s La Costa Resort’s prestigious restaurants before landing under the tutelage of his career-long mentor, Chef Roy Yamaguchi. The relationship with Chef Yamaguchi began at Kahana Bar and Grill in Maui, eventually leading to Guard opening multiple outposts over the span of eight years in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York. With Yamaguchi, Guard honed his skillset as a chef and restaurateur, readying himself for his next challenges as executive chef at New York City hotspot TAO and then as chef de cuisine at the worldrenowned Doc Cheng's restaurant in Singapore. These world-expanding experiences and Guard’s passion for bringing happiness to others through food inspired him to finally set out on his own.

Putting down roots in Denver, CO, Troy opened his first restaurant, TAG, in 2009 where it now serves as the flagship restaurant in his diverse restaurant portfolio. In just nine years, Guard and his family have built their own “Ohana” with 11 restaurants under the TAG Restaurant Group – a family driven by hospitality and creativity, while supplying opportunity and building culinary foundations for the 550 staff he employs. Whether dining at TAG Burger Bar, his modern-American steakhouse Guard and Grace or his breakfast spot HashTAG, guests will find evidence of Guard’s Hawaiian roots as well as special global touches from his years spent traveling, creatively tied into each menu. As a result of the overwhelming support from the Denver community and visitors alike, the TAG Restaurant Group* now consists of TAG, TAG Burger Bar, Guard and Grace, bubu (two locations), Los Chingones (three locations, with a fourth opening in 2008) and the Los Lounge, Mister Tuna, HashTAG, and FNG. In 2019, Guard will make his first move out of Denver, expanding his award-winning steakhouse, Guard and Grace, to Houston, Texas.

Guard is very active in local and national philanthropic efforts, including participation in a variety of cultural and charitable events, such as Chefs Up Front, Eat Denver, and Taste of the NFL. Named one of the “Great Regional Chefs of America” by the James Beard Foundation, Guard participates in events annually around the country that benefit the Beard House. In addition to being awarded “Best Chefs America,” Troy Guard and TAG Restaurant Group have also received accolades such as Colorado Restaurant Association’s “Outstanding Professional Award”, 5280’s Top 25 Restaurants in Denver for both TAG and Guard & Grace, 5280 Best Chef Readers’ Choice 2016 and 2017, Eater Best Chef and Restauranteur of the Year, Denver winner of Cochon 555, recipient of the Mort Harris Small Business Person of the Year Award in 2016, and Top 25 Most Powerful Multi-Concept Restaurant Operators by Restaurant Hospitality

What do you love most about Your City?

Troy Guard: There’s no way I could pick one thing. I love the weather! I love the endless sunshine and the changing of the seasons. The people are a very close second. I really enjoy the people that I meet here and have made amazing friends along the way – everyone is so welcoming, warm and just genuinely good-hearted people. On top of that, we’ve got great sports teams and incredibly talented musicians. Plus, let’s not forget that you can be up skiing on the mountains in less than 60 minutes! Denver is an outdoor state to love!

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I love breakfast and usually eat it at my house because of the kids – plus we’ve got our six chickens with fresh eggs! My go-to would be eat two eggs, half an avocado, and whatever meat is in my fridge (steak, taco meat, shrimp, bacon) all on one slice of whole wheat toast with chipotle Tobasco hot sauce.

If I do go out, I go to HashTAG for some business morning meetings. I like the eggs benedict or the breakfast burrito – half size! I can’t eat that whole thing. We also do fresh squeezed OJ there – can’t beat that. HashTAG is a very special project to me as I really do think it’s the perfect place to start your day.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Just waking up, and then hitting the emails before I wake my 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son for school. The rest of the morning is spent getting everyone ready, and between breakfast, making lunches, and getting dressed, it’s really all a blur!

10:00 AM – I drop the kids off and get to the office. Then I’m normally booked for the rest of the morning between checking emails (yes, again!) and meeting with our CFO and VP.

12:00 PM - Favorite Power Lunch spot/meal?

I usually do Guard and Grace for a business meeting. If I have a quick lunch I’ll grab Bubu … ask for the “Troy Bowl” – it’s not on the menu but I have so many people hooked on it now! I also like Hillstone in Cherry Creek.

7:00 PM - By this time we are normally winding down. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I try to make it home for family dinner and to put the kids to bed. Then, Wednesday through Saturday I’m usually still grinding away at work, but if I get home in time we love to read some books before bed time with the kids.

11:00 PM – I really try my best to be asleep by this time. Between putting the two older ones to bed and getting our 9-week-old settled, it leaves just about an hour of alone time for my wife Nikki and I to catch up on each other’s day and watch a quick show. If we need a laugh, my go to is Ballers – it’s so funny and over the top. I also like How to Get Away With Murder for some mystery and suspense. After that, it’s off to bed!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Lots of water all day and also Teakoe Tea – it’s my go-to drink right now and actually made here in Denver! I usually only drink alcohol if I’m out for a business meeting or with some friends, in which case I love a Moscow Mule or the house special. If I do ever have a drink at home it’s a Ketel One and soda water with lemon.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Southwest Airlines or iHeart Radio. I’m always on the go and good music keeps me moving!

What should everyone try at least once?

I challenge you instead to try traveling a new place at least once…A YEAR! Get out there and see things, meet people, enjoy life!

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In a food market, book store or new city! There’s nothing better than not knowing much about where you are and figuring your way around by actually looking at maps and talking with people!