Part two: Chef Brendon Doyle on live squid on a stick, spurting blood and beef tips
Brendon Doyle, executive chef of Jonesy's EatBar
400 East 20th Avenue
This is part two of my interview with Brendon Doyle, executive chef of Jonesy's EatBar. To read part one, click here.
One food you detest: Tripe. It's awful -- like chewing on textured bubble gum.
One food you can't live without: Seafood. I love all kinds of fish and shellfish. It just gets me really excited, and it makes me feel good to eat it. I love it because you can keep the preparations very simple and the fish still tastes amazing, often requiring little more than just a shake of salt and pepper. I'll eat it raw, grilled, fried or any other way you want to give it to me.
Biggest kitchen disaster: Back when I was working at Campo, there were nights where I was so completely weeded that I wanted to curl up and cry, or just leave. Too many times, I'd burn myself, get yelled at, hyperventilate and get through it. But that's nothing com-pared to a guy I once worked with who sliced three fingers off using a deli slicer. He started shaking, and his hand was spurting blood all over the wall and ceiling. It was like a crime scene afterward.
Favorite music to cook by: Right now, Lil Wayne. He's brain-meltingly good. We also rock Wu-Tang, the Roots and rock and roll. It has to be Southern rock, punk rock, really shitty rap music or good hip-hop.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? A really awesome family who totally supports my career. To be honest, people never buy me kitchen stuff, because they think I already have everything.
Favorite dish to cook at home: I don't cook much at home, but Megan, my partner, makes an omelet I crave with super-fresh farm eggs, drunken goat cheese, caramelized onions and hazel dell mushrooms.
Favorite dish on your menu: It's a toss-up between the tempura ahi Niçoise with fingerlings, green beans, sweet soy and wasabi aioli, or the peach-and-whiskey-brined pork chop with warm potato salad, coleslaw and Fresno pepper jam. Both dishes scream my style of cooking and the creative collaboration I promote in my kitchen.
If you could put any dish on your menu, even though it might not sell, what would it be? I like to play with desserts -- use saffron glazes, molasses sauces and savory components -- and it scares people sometimes. Make a molasses sauce, and it's guaranteed that someone will say it's the grossest thing they've ever tasted. Why, because it's not Froot Loops? For whatever reason, desserts that utilize savory components tend to freak people out.
One book that every chef should read: I really enjoyed Heat, by Bill Buford. It's a great snapshot of Babbo, Mario Batali's high-production kitchen, and it speaks to the true dedication that's necessary to work in a successful restaurant -- and then write a really good book about it. In the process of writing about Mario Batali, Buford was really writing about his own progression. He started off as an ordinary person who came off having an extraordinary experience, and it's the only real culinary-based book that I've read that I like.
Favorite restaurant in America: When I was in Washington, D.C., this past year, I had an amazing meal at Bistrot du Coin with Leigh Jones from Jonesy's and Matt and Gina Selby from Steuben's and Vesta that epitomized my favorite way to eat: wine in juice glasses, close friends and amazingly simple, classic French comfort food.
Best food city in America: Every city can argue that its own food scene is the best. There are reasons why I'd love to cook in San Francisco, reasons to want to cook in New York, reasons to want to go to Chicago, but I actually really love cooking in Denver. I guess if I had to leave Denver, it would be for Portland. I'm a sucker for small cities with great food scenes and chef camaraderie. Portland is similar to Denver in that it's not all about glitz, glamour, trickery or smoke and mirrors. It's about serving really great food from chefs who really care to guests who really appreciate what they're doing.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network, and what would it be about? Cooking good food -- some stupid extravagant menu with cool themes -- with good friends, in homes with awesome kitchens. And it wouldn't be dumbed down, like most of the stuff on the Food Network.
Current Denver culinary genius: Justin Cucci from Root Down. He advocates simple food without pretense.
You're making a hamburger. What's on it? Caramelized onions, smoked blue cheese and Nueske's bacon -- cured and smoked -- on a sourdough bun.
Guiltiest food pleasure? I'm convinced there's no such thing as a bad sandwich. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You're at the market. What do you buy two of? Juice. I really like juice.
Weirdest customer request: Penne and gnocchi in an alfredo sauce with beef tips. That's seriously how the order came back to the kitchen. What the fuck's a beef tip? Presumably, it's scrap meat -- something you get at Applebee's. It was just gross.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Live squid on a stick. I'm lying, but I imagine that would be incredibly weird. Have you ever seen one of those things, all wrapped with tentacles? Do you think it would latch on to your esophagus on its way down?
Best culinary tip for a home cook: Let the food cook, don't keep shaking the pan, and don't keep turning the meat. Just leave it alone.
If you could cook for one famous chef, dead or alive, who would it be? I would love to cook for a panel of chefs who each represented a particular era in food, just to see how my food stacks up to each time period.
Favorite Denver restaurant(s) other than your own: It changes daily. Right now my favorite happy-hour spot for food and drinks is Encore; my favorite lunch spot is J's Noodles & New Thai; and I like to hang out at My Brother's Bar.
What's your favorite knife? Wüsthof and Shun definitely make the best knives for the money.
Hardest lesson you've learned, and how you've changed because of it: I've learned that every person is different and you have to treat them as such. I bring a lot of intensity to the kitchen, which can sometimes be intimidating, and it's made me realize that some people need to be treated with a softer touch. But understanding that has greatly improved my personal and professional relationships.
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