MORE

Part two: Pete Ryan on cock's comb, Ron Burgundy and cheesy love songs

Pete Ryan, executive chef/instructor of Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
Pete Ryan, executive chef/instructor of Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
Lori Midson

Pete Ryan Cook Street School of Culinary Arts 1937 Market Street 303-308-9300 www.cookstreet.com

This is part two of Lori Midson's Chef and Tell interview with Pete Ryan. To read part one of that interview, click here.

Proudest moment as a chef: Returning to Cook Street as their executive chef instructor and being recruited to do so by my mentor, friend and former colleague, chef Michael Comstedt. I worked for Michael for nine years, and then he pushed me to come back and drive the bus. And you know what? It was like getting the pope's blessing.

Best food city in America: I love going to San Francisco -- to the markets, to the wharf, to Chez Panisse, to pig out at the hole-in the-wall dives. It helps that the wine country is so close by, too, and the cold water of the Pacific has tremendous fish and oysters, and the sourdough bread is amazing. Need I say more?

Favorite restaurant in the world: Chez Bruno in Provence. It's owned by this really nice guy, a local celeb named Bruno -- he's massive, has these huge bear claw hands and is built like a brick shithouse -- who's known for using foie gras and black truffles in everything. Seriously, everything. The restaurant is almost like a little chateau off the beaten path, and I'd just pig out every time I went there. That said, my favorite place to eat is in my back yard -- but with someone else cooking.

Most embarrassing moment in the kitchen: I was working at a nursing home when I was sixteen, and we were doing some serious deep-cleaning when someone noticed the most disgusting shriveled up old hot dog just festering on the floor. I made five bucks for eating it, but I never lived it down and I was sick for a week.

Favorite music to cook by: Anything from the cheesy '70s love-songs era, and if you know the words, you've got to sing along, because it'll will make you cook better. A close second is Hall and Oates, Gwen Stefani or crappy '80s hair bands.

Favorite dish to cook at home: I love cooking braises, stews and ragouts at my house in the fall and wintertime, because the house smells of meat, herbs and booze, all of which makes for good sleeping.

Favorite dish on your menu: The one in front of me. Seriously, we change our lesson every day, so we cook different dishes every day. Today it might be sole en papillote, tomorrow braised beef in Barolo. I can't wait till next week.

 

If you could put any dish on your menu, what would it be? I'm fortunate enough that I can put nearly anything on the menu/curriculum at school, and people will cook and eat it all under the guise of education. Nonetheless, I've heard that bald eagle tastes a lot like chicken...or was that a baby seal?

Weirdest customer request: Fifteen years ago, anything gluten-free was weird to me, but now you need those options as much as vegetarian options. That said, on New Year's Eve one year, we got an oeufs en meurette -- eggs in red wine sauce -- order, except the guest wanted us to hold the oeuf. He just wanted a bowl of zippy red wine sauce, with toast.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: A cock's comb. Ugh! It was like eating an earlobe -- not like nibbling on an earlobe, but really eating it. I had it with a Madeira-something sauce, and it was just awful. There was that -- and then a wicked nasty cheese from the back hills of the Piedmont, where the local specialty is to let this soft cheese overripen, go rancid and then bury it for, like, another six months. The taste burned my tongue and made me sweat, and then my palate was lost for the rest of the day.

Best culinary tip for a home cook: Season your food.

If you could cook for one famous person, dead or alive, who would it be? Does Ron Burgundy count? He could bring his many leather-bound (cook) books, and we could talk about jazz flute and maybe drink some Scotch.

Favorite Denver restaurant(s) other than your own: Olivéa, because John Broening is exceptional, and Potager, Mizuna, Z Cuisine and Fruition, because they're classic, structured, consistent, and the food is done right.

Favorite celebrity chef: Anthony Bourdain. I met him once at a book signing; he looked awful and smelled like stale Marlboros and whiskey, but he told us to "keep on cookin'" -- like some sort of bumper sticker or something. I like that his books and his shows all distinguish and embrace the relationship food has with people and culture.

Celebrity chef who should shut up: None of them really bother me.

What's your favorite knife? My twelve-inch wide-blade Wüsthof, which I use for everything.

Hardest lesson you've learned: It's okay to not know what you want to do, or what your future may hold, but you'd better be sure of what you don't want to do.

Use Current Location

Related Location

miles
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts

1937 Market St.
Denver, CO 80202

303-308-9300

www.cookstreet.com


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >