Cafe Society

Chef and Tell: Sean Yontz of Tambien, Sketch and Mezcal

This is part one of a two-part interview. Read part two here.

"Hey, get up, I have something to show you," instructs Sean Yontz as he strides into Sketch, one of the five venues he oversees with business partner Jesse Morreale. And their mini-empire will soon expand to a half-dozen, because Yontz, it turns out, is booting me off my stool to show me his newest restaurant space, a 350-seater (give or take) at the corner of First and Broadway, right around the corner from Sketch.

"I like doing the whole neighborhood thing, and I want to do another place here that suits the neighborhood, just like Mezcal," says Yontz, referring to his and Morreale's rollicking cantina on Colfax. "We're still working on a concept, but we hope to be open by the end of the year." He stops short of discussing what that concept might be, but for anyone familiar with Yontz, the opening chef at Tamayo and now the executive chef at both Tambien and Mezcal, it's not difficult to figure out what food he'll be pushing: Mexican -- maybe with a market peddling fresh tortillas and spices; definitely with an open kitchen, a large bar and a patio. I'm betting on a great tequila and mezcal selection, too.

"It's been a crazy, busy year," admits Yontz. "We never expected to open two restaurants within twelve months of each other, but it looks like that's what's going to happen." In between tossing out cagey teasers for his new place and debating the definition of "fastidious," Yontz also clears the air about his stance on chipotle peppers (overrated) and chicken and beef liver (not a fan), praises Denver's little taco joints (loves 'em) and puts forth a plea for the Food Network to send him on a whirlwind world culinary tour.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson