Part one: Denver and Boulder's most quotable chefs
Check back tomorrow to see another round of our favorite Chef and Tell quotes.
Thanksgiving is a day that gives us food for thought and time to reflect on the things for which we're thankful - our health, our friends, our kids, our jobs and dogs, wine, and the family master baster whose glossy golden turkey supplied leftovers for the next week. And this year, as we were going around the table expressing our gratitude, I was reminded of how much I love the vibrant restaurant scene in this city and the chefs who make eating out in Denver such a pleasure. And every week, I have the honor of interviewing one of those chefs, all of whom give me - and our readers - plenty to chew on. I spent last week going through every single one of those Chef and Tell interviews, pulling out some of my favorite chef quotes from the past year. Herewith, part one of the witty, the pithy, the serious, the salacious and the blunt:
What's never in your kitchen? Egos. When we're at work and in the kitchen, it's never about us; you have to work as a team. To earn respect, you have to give it. I would take a less knowledgeable cook with a great attitude and work ethic over a talented prodigy with a pissy attitude any day of the week. Egos get in the way of the ultimate goal of making good food and making the restaurant better.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: We have an entire list of rules written on the wall in the kitchen. The first two are "Eye of the Tiger" and "Shit on your own time." The first one refers to having a goal and accomplishing it -- kind of like going into battle. And the second one means be ready to kick ass and always take pride in what you're doing. I have a few more, including respect the fucking cheese, don't fuck with my spoons, fear the Mohawk and always watch the demon burner.
Full interview: Mitch Mayers, exec chef of Black Pearl, on Mohawks and Agio
What's always in your kitchen? Women, because they're strong and make the kitchen more dynamic, and it always seems like they're way more organized than me.
Full interview: Matt Lewis, exec chef of Bones, on pop-ups, burgers and women
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Use your brain: It's there for a reason. I'm happy to help anyone learn if I've got something to teach, and I'm happy to jump in if we're behind or in the weeds, but I don't like babysitting. I try to find people who are self-reliant and who do things right; it doesn't take any longer to do something correctly. If I've done my job the right way, it shouldn't be a challenge. I also require efficiency. Running all over the kitchen because things aren't where they should be is unnerving. And move your ass! I hate Sunday drivers -- on the road, in the kitchen or on the floor. I really appreciate a good sense of urgency. And now that I sound like a complete prick, I want people to have fun. It's a new way of thinking for me, and a bit unusual at times, but it's important, especially when you spend a lot of hours in a small space with the same people every day.
What are your ingredient obsessions? Everything. Every ingredient has a story and history, and I care as much about ground beef -- hamburgers -- as I do about foie gras, truffles and caviar. I'm obsessed with each ingredient being the best it can possibly be, because it's far easier to make food with quality ingredients -- and try not to screw them up -- than to try and compensate for inferior ingredients. That adds an unnecessary pressure.
Phat Thai, the Pullman
Most underrated ingredient: Common sense: a sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. Common sense can carry a cook further than the greatest culinary education; common sense can carry a menu further than the greatest inventory of ingredients; and common sense can make the uneducated dishwasher the greatest employee any restaurant can ever have.
Full interview: Chef Mark Fischer on treating knives badly, pussies and unicorns
Favorite ingredient: Butter. It's so versatile that's it's almost the natural "Mr. Wizard" of the kitchen. It makes your pastry dough blow apart, it's awesome in sauces, it makes your corn on the cob delightful, and when clarified, it makes your lobster that much more decadent. Had a good Hollandaise or beurre blanc lately? Thank butter.
Food trend you wish would disappear: The idea that it's okay to feed kids different food from what adults eat, which isn't a new trend, but it keeps growing. I'm appalled by the fake processed food kids eat at home in the name of convenience and mood management. Take the time to feed kids real food and eat good-quality, real wholesome food at mealtimes. Think about what you're teaching your kids by feeding them that "special" kid food with the cartoon characters
Food trend you wish would disappear: Fast food. If we'd all just take time to eat, there wouldn't be a need for that nasty crap. All I know is that I've been breaking down chickens for years and never once have I ever found the damn "McNugget." Now they offer you the opportunity to consume forty at a time if you so desire. Where the hell do all those "McNuggets" come from? Think about it.
Most underrated ingredient: First place goes to burrata. I haven't seen it on a menu anywhere in years. I wish it would appear more often, and on more menus. Okay, that's a joke: It's actually everywhere, but I actually think we should make Kool-Aid with it and drink it every day. Here's what I really think: Beef hearts are way underrated, which sucks, because they actually taste like beef, and it's the best steak I've ever had in my life. But no one seems to appreciate it. If you mention beef heart to someone, they wiggle uncomfortably, as though you're asking them to eat stomach. It's just another muscle, just like that fancy filet mignon.
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