Sergio Romero, executive chef at Argyll Gastropub, will face off against Jay Spickelmier, executive chef at Jing, in the Mile High Chef Competition at Dish-the Westword Menu Affair at the Fillmore tonight.
Before the cooking competition gets too heated, we asked both chefs to dish out some thoughts on Denver's dining scene. In this corner: Sergio Romero.
Denver has the best: Denver makes it easy for a chef to achieve a very fresh menu. Whether it's peaches, potatoes, trout or lamb, Colorado, in general, seems to offer so many things for the table, regardless of what season we're in.
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What you'd like to see more of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: I'd like to see more unity. It kinda seems that we have a tendency to keep to ourselves, rather than getting out there and promoting great food as a whole. I'd also like to see a place where chefs can get together and talk about life in the trenches...like Blue Ribbon in New York. A few more 24-hour diners would be cool, too. Sometimes you just need a kick-ass burger at three in the morning.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: I think that the culinary scene is growing by leaps and bounds in Denver, and I am thankful to be a part of that. But one thing that still baffles me is the need for people to dine at corporate giants. These monsters do nothing except skew the concept of what good food is. It seems to me the more money we put into Colorado businesses, the stronger our local enterprises will become.
Favorite Denver restaurant other than your own: Barolo Grill. Chef Liard does a great job in his kitchen, and I think his kitchen brigade is one of the finest around. On top of that, his execution of food is damn near flawless. Word has it that he hasn't hired help in a very long time. Why would anyone want to leave?
Favorite local ingredient: Colorado lamb is definitely the most prominent local ingredient on our menu at Argyll. I like using lamb on our menu, because I think it's a great ode to the United Kingdom -- and it's just some of the best lamb in the world. All of our lamb comes from the Yampa Valley west of Steamboat Springs. Just for the record, though, Robert Thompson and I are planning a trip to Scotland this winter to see who has better lamb.