Cafe Society

Chef and Tell with the Lobby's Charley Sinden: corn sprouts, his favorite pizza and that offal thing

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Most overrated ingredient: Filet mignon. Yeah, it's good, but there are other cuts of meat that taste much better. I'm a big fan of the skirt steak and the flank steak; they're so much more flavorful. I simply don't get why filet mignon is still so popular. And when people order it well-done, I can't for the life of me understand why. Order pot roast, for chrissakes, or just eat a hamburger.

Most underrated ingredient: Corn sprouts. I've never seen them here in Colorado, but we used them a lot when I was cooking in Phoenix. They're sweet and tangy at the same time, packed with flavor and make a great addition to any salad -- and they look pretty awesome, too. All you have to do is sprout corn in the dark and let the seed grow till it's about four inches tall, and -- voilà -- you get these great little yellow corn sprouts.

Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Local craft beer and spirits. Denver has so much to offer, what with all of our great microbreweries and brewers. It's fun to braise meat with beer, and just like it says on the Breckenridge Brewery 64-ounce growlers, beer "goes well with barbecued animals." It's true: Their Agave Wheat really adds a different dimension to short ribs. Great Divide's Belgica is my favorite seasonal beer ever.

Favorite spice: Cumin. I love the aroma, and I love the pungent punch that you get from cooking with it. I really enjoy mahi lightly dusted with rice flour and cumin and tucked into a warm flour tortilla, and it's a must in green chile.

One food you detest: Offal. I know it's important to use every part of the animal -- and I'm a proponent of that -- but I just can't do offal. I was really young -- six or seven -- when my dad first made liver pâté, and then he lied and said it was chocolate pudding. I think that ruined me forever, because I've never touched it again.

One food you can't live without: Jerky. It's got to be my many different flavors and types of meat. It's the perfect snack, and a must for any road trip. I just wish they sold it in bigger bags.

You're making a pizza. What's on it? Prosciutto, Brie, sun-dried tomatoes, jalapeños and fresh basil. After it's baked, I like to drizzle a little balsamic reduction on top.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson