Cafe Society

Drew Hardin, exec chef of Lola, on cooks who don't have passion

Page 4 of 4

One food you detest: I can't stand peanut all. And that admission is really odd, because I love peanuts, and I especially love boiled peanuts. I could eat those all day, but unfortunately we can't get them in Denver. But I hate peanut butter. I think it's a textural thing. I can't do peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cups or Reese's, either.

One food you can't live without: I love tacos. The simplicity of taking anything you want and wrapping it in a tortilla is pretty badass. One of the oldest foods in the world is the tortilla, and that's what I love to eat every day.

Most memorable meal you've ever had: I can't pinpoint just one, but I've always loved the meals that take place with my family in Florida. Once a year, my family gets together in Homosassa, and we have a giant weeklong feast. There's a table covered in newspaper with piles of blue crab that we caught, and whatever other fish we hooked that day -- redfish, sea trout, cobia or scallops. We also feast on real grits, okra and tomatoes, and cottage-cheese rolls. In essence, it's really about drinking some beers, catching some fish and making a kick-ass meal.

What's always in your kitchen? Dried chiles, lard, masa, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, chorizo, lots of seafood and a shitload of poblanos. And fun. We take what we do seriously, but we always have fun in the process.

What's never in your kitchen? Cooks who are only there for a paycheck. I can't stand it when someone wants to go to work just to get paid for it. If that's the case, then why are you in this business? If you don't want to grow your craft, learn new things and better yourself, then you have no place in our kitchen. If you just want a paycheck, then another kitchen or career is probably better suited for you.

Best food trend of the year: Breweries. There are so many local breweries popping up everywhere, and we had the honor of being paired with the Denver Beer Company this year at the Great American Beer Festival. I have no reason to go to any other brewery, because their beer is just so amazing. I wish there were more dinners paired with breweries.

Worst food trend of the year: I don't know if it's the worst trend, but it's definitely one that I don't understand: pho. There are just so many pho places, and every day, I hear someone say they ate at Pho (insert number here) and it was so good. You ask them where it was, and they say, "I don't know -- somewhere on Colfax or Federal." Well, thanks, that sums it up. I think pho is delicious, but there's just too much of it. New trend, please.

What's always lurking in your refrigerator? I'm not home a lot, but there are lots of condiments in there: yellow mustard, some barbecue sauce, may ploy, sriracha and Cholula, along with frozen White Castle cheeseburgers, frozen bacon, eggs, some skim milk (that's my wife's, not mine) and Budweiser. I love a nice "beechwood-aged" freedom lager.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson