Cafe Society

Part two: Chef and Tell with Sergio Romero of Argyll Gastropub

Page 2 of 2

Best food city in America: Portland or Seattle. They both have such great earth-to-plate cultures, and because they're right on the Pacific Ocean, you can get the best cold-water fish, awesome oysters, great salmon and halibut -- the best of everything, really. Plus, you have all the local foragers coming to your back door.

Proudest moment as a chef: While I was the executive chef of Old Blinking Light, I was invited to cook at the James Beard House by Wrede. Having the opportunity to cook in the culinary mecca of the United States, for the elite of the elite, in such an intimate environment, was absolutely amazing.

Favorite music to cook by: The Stones. Their music takes me back to my childhood.

Best recent food find: The menudo at La Hacienda, a carnicería at I-25 and Evans that I discovered a little while back. I grew up eating menudo, and their menudo more than satisfies my cravings.

Favorite restaurant in America: The Spotted Pig in New York. There are a lot of restaurants around the country that are killing it, but the Spotted Pig gets my vote because they don't bring an ego or sliding scale of importance to their menu. We obviously looked at the Spotted Pig before we opened Argyll, since it's also a gastropub, and what we discovered is that they take as much pride in selling a hamburger as they do a grilled quail. I like and respect that. The food is awesome, and it's a really cool, hip spot with a great vibe. I'd love to bring that vibe to Denver.

Most embarrassing moment in the kitchen: When I first got started in the business, my chef told me to drain the stock from the stock pot that had been cooking all day. I drained the throwing it all away and saving all the bones instead. What can I say? I was naive and didn't know anything about a professional kitchen. But there it was, a week's worth of hard work, all gone.

What's never in your kitchen? Idleness. That's the one thing that drives me crazy. We all have a job to do, and there's no hierarchy in the kitchen, so your job isn't done until every station is finished. In other words, don't walk outside and have a cigarette if someone else in the kitchen needs help.

Culinarily speaking, Denver has the best: I really dig the diversity of ethnic food in Denver, especially since we're smack-dab in the middle of America.

Culinarily speaking, Denver has the worst: Culinary reputation. Despite what the cynics say, we're not behind the eight ball when it comes to great restaurants, but the fact that so many people, both here and elsewhere, still perceive us an unsophisticated cowtown pisses me off. Just look at all the cool stuff we're doing at Argyll with charcuterie: housemade duck prosciutto, gin-cured salmon gravlax, homemade sauerkraut...lamb tartare. That kind of food is hardly mundane.

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