Give us more! Denver chefs want more markets, "cheflucks" and butcher shops in 2012
For last week's Year in Review issue, we recapped what the subjects of the 2011 Chef and Tell interviews would like to see less of in Denver. This time, we're serving up their wish lists of what they hope to find on Denver's plate in the new year -- everything from year-round farmers' markets to whole-carcass fabrication to late-night grub houses, East Coast-style delis and tapas bars. Here are their answers to the question: What would you like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint?
Dana Rodriguez, Bistro Vendôme
Farmers' markets would definitely be one on my list, along with old-school techniques that highlight ingredients. And as a mother of three, I'd like to see more affordable, healthy and delicious places to eat with your family.
Rob Lawler, The Truffle
I think we're doing really well, and it always annoys me when people rant on not having a good Micronesian restaurant or whatever. These people aren't happy with anything, and most likely couldn't cook their way out of a paper bag, even if someone gave them a hot pan and a sharp knife. There are so many innovative and exciting restaurants here, and it's great to see Denver chefs doing their own thing, showing their style and accentuating Colorado produce. It really is a very exciting time in Denver. Still, I'd like to see more independently owned markets, butcher shops, produce markets, cheese shops, bakeries and patisseries -- places that do only one thing and do it really, really well.
More markets. I grew up walking down to our local farmers' market just about every day to eat, play, socialize, observe and just hang outside. When I was fifteen, I turned from customer to employee and continued to work there every summer for six years. I developed great relationships with the customers, and I had regulars who would come in to discuss what to cook for the week, or what to serve for a dinner party. They would ask me to pick melons that would be ripe on a certain day down the road, and since I ate all the produce myself, I knew what it should look like, smell like and taste like. I provided only the best for my customers, and each week they would return wanting more. It's all about local, seasonable and good-tasting food provided by a knowledgeable person who cares.
Amos Watts, Jax Fish House Denver
I'd love to see something like San Francisco's Ferry Building open in Denver -- it would be awesome to have an indoor market where you can have a year-round farmers' market atmosphere.
Eric Uffelmann, Marlowe's
I'd really like to see more bakeries -- real bakeries.
Mike Peshek, Lou's Food Bar
When I lived in Boston, we used to do dinners with, and for, chefs -- a "chefluck," if you will. I'm not talking about events like Chefs Up Front; I'm talking about dinners for chefs by chefs, in a fun and casual forum where we get together and talk about Colorado products, new trends, microbrews or whatever. It's always great to cook for the public, but as chefs, we rarely get to sit down and enjoy each other's food together, and while it's fun to do events, we're always worried about cleaning or making sure our equipment is ready to go, which kind of takes away from the social aspect of the event. I respect so many chefs in Denver and would love the opportunity to sit down with them and eat and learn about what makes them who they are. I like my peers, I wish them the best, and I would love to discuss what makes their food so damn good.
Venue executive chef Patrick Horvat.
Patrick Horvat, Venue
Year-round multi-vendor markets. I grew up in Cleveland, where we have the West Side Market, a culinary mecca that's a hodgepodge of traditional, old-world European delicacies ranging from sausages and homemade mustards to pastries and baked goods to seasonal veggies from local farmers. It's only open a few days a week, which adds to its appeal and makes it that much more special when you get to go. I think the farmers' markets here in Denver are awesome -- for the three or four months that we have them -- but something a little more permanent with a lot more vendors would be awesome. If you ever make it to Cleveland, I suggest you check out the West Side Market. It's amazing, and I miss it.
Brandon Foster, Vesta Dipping Grill
Euclid Hall is crushing it with the late-night crowd, but it would be sweet to see more of the food trucks out and about late at night, too. We occasionally see a few downtown, but not frequently enough. There used to be a few good street vendors out and about, but they've really declined in number.
Scott Yosten, Steakhouse 10
The culinary evolution of Denver has risen to a new level within the last four years, and many of the chef-operators have taken risks with different locations and their conceptual cuisines. Now, what I'd really like to see is them putting their "branded" cuisines into new locations and developing new cuisines within those cuisines on a daily basis -- and then branch out.
Jensen Cummings, Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar
I'm a Japanese-French-Irish-American boy from SoCal, and more than anything else, I want to see some really great New York-style Jewish delis. I want some pastrami on rye, latkes, a bagel with a shmear, and a couple old dudes in the corner playing chess and smoking European cigarettes.
Eric Rivera, Cafe|Bar
More tapas bars. I like to eat a little of a lot, and my wife and I like to try more than one item whenever we go out to dinner.
Thanawat Bates, exec chef of the Palace Arms.
Thanawat Bates, Palace Arms at the Brown Palace
Both Denver and Boulder have great culinary scenes to keep an eye on. There are some amazing things happening here, a lot of great new chefs joining the old ones, and a lot of creativity that continuously raises the bar for all of us. That said, we could benefit from more consistency and more culture. We're still finding our place on the bigger culinary map, and I think both consistency and culture would help us with that.
Simon Purvis, EDGE at the Four Seasons
More great ethnic restaurants with a native of the ethnic cuisine at the helm of the kitchen cooking dishes that he or she grew up with and has a passion to share with everyone else.
Sean McGaughey, Opus
Some sort of catalyst to really put our food scene on the culinary map. We're well on our way, but we still need that push to be recognized along with the other big markets. I think a little more friendly competition could wake things up a bit.
Pete List, Beatrice & Woodsley
I'd like to see more neighborhood butcher shops and markets -- places where you get to know the owner and the guy cutting your meat and making the sausage. This is something that both Denver and Boulder are sorely lacking.
Kevin Taylor, Restaurant Kevin Taylor at the Hotel Teatro
Smaller menus and fewer choices. Large menus are hard to execute well and staff, and while more ingredients equal more things, it doesn't necessarily equal more things done well. I'd love to see more tasting menus with only one choice of starter, entree and dessert, but I don't think we're ready for that in this country. That said, we just started a tasting menu at Restaurant Kevin Taylor that's six courses -- and only six courses. You get what you get. If you can control what people eat, you'll have a much better restaurant, and diners will have a much better experience, because the execution will be perfect.
Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, Frasca Food and Wine
I'd like to see more restaurants in general. A lot of "tastemakers" don't consider Denver a serious place to do business, which is a huge mistake. Denver has a huge, food-conscious population, access to great produce and lots of neighborhoods to support serious restaurants.
Brett Smith, Zolo Grill
East Coast-style delis. Anyone from back there knows what I'm talking about. Even in the small town where I'm from, you could probably find ten delis with sandwiches as good as any we have here -- except for Masterpiece Deli. Those guys rule!
Doug Anderson, Hi*Rise
I'd like to see more restaurateurs taking risks with locations instead of putting up shop exactly where you'd expect. It may be a bad business model, but nonetheless, that's what I'd like to see.
Noah Stephens, Vert Kitchen
I'd like to see more casual restaurants that focus on simple dishes that take advantage of high-quality ingredients -- places that are affordable, welcoming, really healthy and where I could eat on a consistent basis without feeling gluttonous. I'd love to be able to get a fresh salad and a nice glass of wine without needing a reservation or waiting forever to get in.
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