This is part two of Lori Midson's interview with Table 6 exec chef Scott Parker. In case you missed it, part one of Parker's interview ran yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: I have two kids, so we haven't been out to eat in a long time, but there are places I like to go back to, like the Company of Cauldron in Nantucket. The chefs are badass, and the food -- everything -- is perfect.
Best food city in America: San Francisco. My wife, Deanna, surprised me with a trip to San Francisco after we'd started dating, and we ate at all these really great small joints with super-fresh food; the dishes were prepared with so much care. We had a kick-ass dinner at Chez Nous, where my wife and I just got to enjoy each other's company, plus we had this fried-honeycomb dessert that was dipped in chocolate that was just amazing.
Favorite music to cook by: Rush, Mr. Bungle, Alice in Chains, Richard Cheese, Queens of the Stone Age, Slayer and Willie Nelson.
Biggest kitchen disaster: The floods of September 15 and 17, 2010. The water main blew under the road on Corona and flooded our basement, so we had to close the restaurant that day. The road was patched and we had water, but water was still gurgling out of the blacktop in spots. The Denver Water people came back to fix the water main -- but then they broke the gas main. One of the workers came in and calmly asked if we had any open flames or electrical devices and, if so, to extinguish or shut them down immediately. We had to evacuate the entire kitchen, and the neighborhood shut down for a good five hours. We prepped on Wednesday and had to close Wednesday night, and then we prepped again on Friday and had to close again. Lame.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? Cooking ideas from Deanna's mom, who grew up in Pennsylvania. She comes from a family of nine, so I get all these recipe ideas that I never would have thought of -- like saving bacon grease and making popcorn with it. These interesting combinations spark other ideas for me -- and ideas don't break or need repairs.
Favorite dish to cook at home: A pork roast rubbed with rosemary and garlic and served with potatoes.
Favorite dish on your menu: I love all my children equally, but my menu is never finished and always ongoing. I like everything equally and am disappointed equally because I want to keep fine-tuning my menu and getting better.
If you could put any dish on your menu, even though it might not sell, what would it be? Handmade buttered noodles of egg-yolk pasta with a little lemon, Parmesan, salt and pepper. That's it -- just a big-ass pound of freaking pasta in a bowl done as close to perfect as possible. Maybe I'm wrong; maybe it would sell.
One book that every chef should read: Roget's Food Thesaurus. It has almost every classical sauce listed, which is good to know, but if you want to learn everything about a subject, you should know the history of it, too. This book covers both.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network? Girl-on-girl topless bacon cookery. Who cares what it would be about? It'd be a fluff piece. I'd watch.
Current Denver culinary genius: Jeff Cleary from Grateful Bread. He's a nut job (love you, buddy), but a genius with bread. There's a science and passion to breadmaking, and Jeff and his employees work their asses off, and it shows: The product sings all the time. In the five years we've used them, they've been consistently amazing. Everything is perfect.
You're making a pizza. What's on it? Robiola, pancetta, arugula and a fried egg.
Guiltiest food pleasure? I just don't feel bad about eating anything. I'm not wearing skinny jeans anytime soon, but I'm not going to be a blob, either, because I still want to sleep with my wife. Eating should not be about guilt.
You're at the market. What do you buy two of? Juice. I have two kids who drink a lot of juice, but I also love different types of juice and could drink it all day long.
Favorite Denver restaurant(s) other than your own: There are so many, and I don't want to leave anyone out...Fruition, Il Posto, Mizuna, the Gastro Cart, Steuben's, twelve, Masterpiece Deli. I've had excellent meals at these places every time, along with solid service. I just like to eat -- period -- and when people do it well, it's awesome. I still need to go to TAG. Troy got my daughter to eat squash at an off-site event, which was a miracle, so I know that TAG kicks ass.
Favorite celebrity chef: Emeril Lagasse. I don't like the "bam" thing, but he seems like a genuinely nice guy.
Celebrity chef who should shut up: I have no idea. I don't care about the celebrity-chef culture. It's impressive what they can do as far as being in front of a camera and appearing relaxed, because that kind of thing scares the shit out of me. But other than that, they're not important; they're just cooks who got a big break.
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What's your favorite knife? Somebody else's knife: Mine are never sharp enough.
Hardest lesson you've learned: Remain calm and not lose my temper. A few years ago, a giant Romanian busboy couldn't run plates for the life of him, and I was screaming my head off because it baffled me. My cooks were holding me back because I was up in his face, but I didn't want to get my ass beaten by him -- or anyone else, for that matter. And at that moment, something clicked, and I decided it was time to calm down and relax. I still lose it from time to time, especially when I drop something, because I know it has to go to the trash -- and that pisses me off.
Last meal before you die: It would be more about the company than the food, but I'd want one of my wife's pies -- chocolate, banana cream or coconut.