By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
Although she can't do much to help outfit Yang's kitchen, Blu says she's thrilled by what's coming out of it. "We've had varying levels of service," she says of the BEP vendors. "Jacques is hands down the best of the blind operators that we've had. We're happy to have him."
Like many of her co-workers, she's become a Jacques Cafe regular. "I keep telling people, 'Go over there and try it," Blu says. "It's new; it's so much better now."
Many people have to eat the food before they'll believe that. "I tell people I work here," Duco says, "and they go, 'In the basement?' It's so hard to change people's perceptions when they've been ingrained for so long."
But perceptions are changing. People from nearby buildings have started heading to City Hall at lunchtime. Judges who once sent juries to neighboring eateries now have the courage to direct them to the city's cafeteria.
Bert Thomas, an employee in the Denver City Attorney's Office, appreciates Yang's efforts. "He's cooking collard greens and cornbread; he's trying to show off," Thomas says, eliciting another smile from Yang. "I'm from Mississippi. I told him, 'Cornbread? Dude, you don't know nothing about cornbread.' He does. He makes bread pudding like grandma makes."
That's because he cooks it with love. "I love cooking. I love people," Yang explains. "Cooking is a very creative art. You produce something from basic raw ingredients, you get very satisfied."
Finding satisfaction in such a modest setting would be tough for Denver's more temperamental chefs, but it's easy for Yang. "It's good to have a fancy restaurant with a bar," he says. "But here I get to know the people in the building. They become your close family when you serve them good food with reasonable prices. Your circle of friends enlarges."