Cafe Society

Chef Dylan Moore on fish sauce, the Taco Nazis and effing up snapper Veracruz

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Six words to describe your food: Clean, fresh, colorful, unpretentious, tasty and fun.

Ten words to describe you: Crazy, ambitious, silly, creative, artistic, determined, clean, outgoing, collector and motivated.

Favorite ingredient: I've got this obsession with fish sauce. I'll put it in the strangest things, like tortilla soup, or in a corn and tomato ragu, instead of salt; it's even the base for my ceviche. Fish sauce adds incredible depth to food; it just rounds things out. You don't even know it's there, but it just grabs me, and I use it everywhere, at all of my restaurants, including in the food I serve from the truck. People tease me about it, but I love it.

Best recent food find: Beef tongue. The first time I had it was just recently at El Taco de México, and now I can't get enough of it. It's got a melty, livery texture that I really dig.

Most overrated ingredient: Strawberries. I swear, every time I interview a new chef, he wants to go straight for the strawberries. Some guy did a chicken fettuccine with a strawberry balsamic reduction -- and that's just wrong. A spinach and strawberry vinaigrette is nasty, too. I don't know, maybe it's a country club thing, but strawberries belong in cocktails and desserts, and they're great for breakfast, but they don't belong anywhere else.

Most underrated ingredient: Fresh herbs. I'm anti dry herbs all the way. You won't find dry herbs in any of my restaurants. I use them fresh in marinades and as a baster, and I use an herb oil with fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic and extra virgin olive oil on all the burger buns at Deluxe Burger and on my focaccia at Deluxe. I don't see a ton of fresh herbs on a lot of menus, and that mystifies me, because they really pump up a dish. And, honestly? I don't get the kind of cooking philosophy that follows the "Let the ingredients speak for themselves" rule. Food needs seasoning, even it's just salt and pepper.

Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Fresh corn from Munson Farms in Boulder. I grew up on corn, and I could kill four or five ears, even as a seven-year-old. The corn from Munson is sweet and crisp, and you can eat it raw.

One food you detest: I love foie gras and duck liver, but I hate chicken liver. There's something about the smell that really turns me off, and it reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom forced me to eat it.

One food you can't live without: Tacos. I need my Mexi fix every day. My favorite place is El Taco de México, even though I hate the women who work there. I've gone there once a week -- sometimes twice a week -- for twenty years, and they've never once smiled at me. They don't give a shit, because they know that fifty more gringos are right behind me. They're the Taco Nazis, but I keep going back because the tacos are just so incredibly good.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson