Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Lead by example, be clean, be organized and have fun. And don't complain. It's a restaurant, and not everything is going to work out like it should; it's the nature of the beast. Cook for yourself. In other words, if you wouldn't eat it, don't serve it to my guests. Always make sure that your food is seasoned properly. I hate -- hate -- under-seasoned food. Salt and pepper makes the kitchen go 'round. The Lobby is the first place I've ever worked that has salt and pepper shakers. I can't stand people who douse salt on my food without tasting it first. I also hate it when the linen bag is busting out. I can't stand dirty linens -- it's so fucking annoying. All that said, three of my cooks have been with me for years; they know what I expect and how to conduct themselves in the kitchen.
Favorite music to cook by: Aside from food and cooking, music is the other love in my life, which means that many different bands get played in our kitchen. Silence is not an option. We play mostly punk rock, but there are always days when metal is blaring or Ray Charles and Barry White are laying down some smooth tracks. There's such a great music scene here in Denver. Almost every night of the week, there's something going on. One of our guys even plays in a local punk band called Pitch Invasion.
Favorite ingredient: Fresh basil. I love that there are so many varieties and that it's so versatile. Currently in my garden at home, I have lemon, Thai and opal basil. When I pick it fresh in the morning, the aromas are mind-numbing. If they ever make a perfume that smells like fresh-cut basil, I'm in trouble.
Best recent food find: Jumping Good Goat Dairy. It's located in Buena Vista, and they make some really fine cheese. My favorites are the cave-aged cheddar and the crème de la chèvre, which is a little sweet and has pronounced vanilla and nutmeg flavors. I like to serve it warm with fresh berries.