Chef News

Bistro Vendôme's Matt Anderson dishes on WHIRL, EVOO, brains and Bourdain

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Six words to describe your food: Simple, comfortable, seasonal, flavorful, rustic and refined.

Ten words to describe you: Loyal, father, husband, quiet, sarcastic, introverted, creative, passionate, dedicated and resourceful.

Favorite ingredient: French butter. For those of you who haven't tried it, you must; it's what butter is supposed to taste like. American butter has kind of an unnatural flavor to it, whereas French butter has a sweet, kind of cream flavor to it.

Best recent food find: Verjus. It's made from wine grapes, so it has the elements of vinegar, but it doesn't have the acidic tang of vinegar. It's sweeter, mellower and a great substitute for vinegar, even though it's more expensive and harder to find.

Most overrated ingredient: Salmon. It's so overdone, and there was a time when there wasn't a menu in town that didn't have it. It's the fish equivalent of chicken, and seeing it night after night - having to cook it on the line every night - gets tiresome.

Most underrated ingredient: Fleur de sel, a hand-picked sea salt from France. It has a great flavor, and if you've got a baguette, French butter and fleur de sel, that's all you need.

Favorite local ingredient: Palisade peaches.

One food you detest: Sea urchin. I know it's a delicacy, but when I first moved to Colorado, I worked at the Flagstaff House and we had sea urchin on the menu, which was something I'd never worked with before, so I was naturally curious. But the first time it hit a hot sauté pan, it released a smell that I'll never forget. It was like someone had taken off their dirty socks and sautéed them.

One food you can't live without: Pasta. A lot of times, I just need to eat, and I don't want it to be a big ordeal -- I just want calories, and pasta is the first thing I go for. If I miss family meal at the restaurant, then before service, I'll eat buttered noodles with some fresh basil and I'm good. When I crash because I haven't eaten, people need to watch out: It's the most dangerous time to be around me. I could tell you a story about what happened at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic a few years ago, but it's probably best I don't. I'll tell you this much: It had something to do with trunk shots and whiskey and trying to find somewhere to eat at 2 a.m.

Biggest kitchen disaster: Soon after I started working at Bistro Vendôme, one of the dishwashers told me about a drip coming from the ceiling. It was right in the middle of service with a full restaurant, so I told him to put a bucket under the drip and that I'd deal with it after service. The drip eventually became a stream, and by the time I could look into it, every crack in the ceiling was pouring pink fluid - coolant -- everywhere. No food went out, and I had to close the restaurant and send everyone to Rioja. I imagine their kitchen probably wasn't too pleased to have us drop a ton of people in their lap, but I had no choice.

What's never in your kitchen? WHIRL, a weird, thick butter substitute. One of the places where I worked had it, but I've never seen or heard of it again. I just wish I'd never seen it to begin with, because it's horrible. We don't have chef coats in the kitchen, either. Instead, we cook in T-shirts. If you're sweating your butt off, why the hell do you want to put more clothes on?

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson