One ingredient you won't touch: I really can't think of anything I won't touch. When I was a kid, I wanted everything that everyone else was eating. My dad would give me liverwurst or pickled herring, and I loved it. That said, I don't really like tapioca pearls. I don't want snot in my tea; I just want some tea.
One ingredient you can't live without: I use onions in everything. I love how something so simple can have such an impact on flavors, depending upon the cooking technique.
Food trend you'd like to see more of: I think the farm-to-table movement is really amazing, and that we as chefs have a responsibility to the planet to use local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible.
Food trend you'd like to see disappear: Low-grade reality cooking shows. I admit that I'm a junkie for a good competition, and I think that some of the cooking shows on TV are pretty good, but the silly ones -- America's Worst Chef or whatever -- those need to go. It's pretty easy to spot the shows that are dedicated to a good competition between qualified contestants compared to the ones that are a battle between a personal trainer and avid home chef and a line cook from the Waffle House.
What specific requests would you ask of Denver diners? Don't fear change. Variety is the spice of life, and chefs have been given the task of using the same ingredients in different ways to keep our guests happy. I love seeing new things on menus, and while I'm sad to see my old favorites go, the replacements are usually just as good, or better.
Most underrated Denver restaurant: T-Wa Inn. I remember going there years ago, and even now, it's still going strong. It's kinda like the Vietnamese version of El Taco de México, but while El Taco de México gets credit for being a Denver institution, I don't see T-Wa on the must-eat places list for Denver, even though, in my humble opinion, it should be.
Who's the most underrated chef in Denver? Since I've been out of town for ten of the last twelve years, I really don't know who's underrated. I just remember all the friends who I used to cook with back in the day, and now that I'm back, I'm amazed and super-proud of the growth that I've seen in Denver. I'm just happy to be back here to throw my hat in the mix of it all.