Cafe Society

Part two: Chef and Tell with Aaron Youngblood from Dixons Downtown Grill

Page 2 of 2

Favorite restaurant in America: My favorite restaurant in America is in Las Vegas, the greatest city in the world and one that's known for its dining. In the casino high-rise The Palms, there's the most amazing sushi place I've ever been -- Little Buddha -- and it's incredible. It left such an impression on me that I compare it to every other sushi restaurant I visit. The food, sake, service and design of the concept is planned and executed perfectly.

Best food city in America: One could argue that it's New York, San Francisco or Chicago, and I would probably agree. But the chefs here at home are rapidly approaching superstar status. We have the best local ingredients -- naturals and organics -- and so many homegrown chefs who know how to use them. There are new restaurants popping up all the time, and I'm seeing a lot of innovation within the competition we have here. I'm constantly surprised by how good everything is, especially some of the Colorado wines. It's really fun to see what's happening now -- and to think about what's coming in the future.

Favorite Denver restaurant(s) other than your own: Rioja, without a doubt. I love everything there and have never had a less than exceptional experience. Chef Jennifer just has it together, and her artichoke tortelloni is the best thing I've ever had. She has me as a customer for life.

Favorite music to cook by: When I'm doing prep, it's the Ramones, the Clash or the Hollies. When more speed and a higher gear are required, then it's Pantera or Anthrax.

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? My stick blender. I love it. It's a tool that's invaluable for homemade dressings, purées, foams and soups. I received it as a gift about six years ago, and it's still alive.

Favorite dish to cook at home: I like to grill more than just about anything else. My favorite meal when I cook for two, or ten, is a mixed grill -- jerk-molasses pork, smoked scallops, king crab, artichokes and corn. I'm not immune to standing outside in sub-freezing temperatures and nursing a charcoal grill back out of hibernation.

Favorite dish on your menu: The Bleu Burger -- a grilled half-pound patty with black pepper and bleu cheese on a soft brioche roll, with all of the accompaniments. I add jalapeños and bacon, and it's a thing of beauty.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson