Cafe Society

Chef and Tell part two: Drew Middleton from Gaia Bistro

Drew Middleton Gaia Bistro 1551 South Pearl Street 303-777-5699 www.gaiabistro.com

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

Culinary inspirations: Thomas Keller. Whenever I think of him, the first thing that comes to mind is perfection. From his farms to the table, he shows such care and respect for his food that it makes me want to strive for the same. And then there's Mario Batali, who's like an encyclopedia when it comes to Italian food. It just blows me away that a single person can know so much about one cuisine.

Proudest moment as a chef: Back in 2006, 5280 magazine included us in its top ten best new restaurants list, which shocked me. We'd only been open for six months, and to be honest, I had absolutely no idea how we were doing, but that award made me believe that we'd gotten off to a really good start. That said, I'm proudest when I know that people are enjoying my food. It doesn't matter if it's in the restaurant or at home with friends and family. Making people happy with food never gets old.

Favorite music to cook by: Lately my cooks and I have been into hip-hop like Del tha Funkee Homosapien and A Tribe Called Quest. But I love everything, so we change it up all the time.

Best food city in America: Austin, Texas, home of the best barbecue and taquerías. The culinary scene there has its own kind of funky vibe, with all different kinds of restaurants and cuisines with their own Austin style -- and I love that it's not pretentious. There's this crepe place that you've got to check out: It's run out of an old Winnebago, and the guys who work there give you the crepe -- they're so good -- on a paper plate, and you plop yourself down at a picnic table and eat in the middle of a park.

Favorite restaurant in America: Cappy's restaurant in San Antonio, my home town. They serve Southern Texas-style comfort food, and I've been eating there for the past twenty years. Everything is made in-house, they use only Texas produce and livestock, the food and atmosphere are so comforting, and the pot roast is the best I've ever had.

What you'd like to see more of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: Butcher shops and bakeries. There are a few good butcher shops in Denver, like Marczyk Fine Foods and Oliver's, but I live in the DTC area, and there's absolutely nothing by me. As for bakeries, I love bread, and so far, I haven't found anywhere to buy really great bread.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson