Cafe Society

Part two: Denver chefs reveal what they'd like to see more of in 2012

Page 2 of 4

Theo Adley, The Pinyon

I'd like to see a truer commitment to the farmers and artisans in the area who provide people with responsibly grown products; I'd love to see more foragers in the area; and I'd like to see more innovation and more young chefs who care less about fame and glory and riding the coattails of a year-old New York or San Francisco fad, but actually have a distinct perspective of their own and a venue of their own. I'd like to see more chefs willing to experiment, more chefs who are content with fucking up occasionally and not playing it so safe -- and I wish there were more chef-driven restaurants that don't have to rely on alcohol to get people in the doors. We live in a beautiful and distinctive area of the country with a really amazing future in culinary history, but we have to push the creative envelope. With that, I think that sous-vide cooking should be more readily available to restaurants; I think the FDA should do far more to encourage and educate the restaurant industry on its benefits instead of making it so very difficult and expensive for restaurateurs to implement proper HACCP [Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points] planning.

Valentino Ujkic, Trattoria Stella

Fewer pizza places. My mile-and-a-half bike ride to Stella's involves dodging pizza places that seem to be spreading faster then a venereal disease from Charlie Sheen. Winning! With seventeen pizza places in one small strip of land, anything different would be good.

Mark Monette, Flagstaff House

Five years ago, I would have had a lot more to criticize, but I think we're on the right track. I will say, however, that we could be working harder to better train our staffs and strive for a higher level of professionalism.

Chris Cina, Ghost Plate & Tap

I think Denver, and especially Boulder, have finally gotten to a point where there really isn't anything lacking. Denver has done well nationally with Alex Seidel winning a Best New Chef award from Food & Wine magazine; Frank Bonanno was on No Reservations and Hosea Rosenberg won Top Chef, so I can't say we need more media coverage of what we're doing here. We have great ethnic restaurants, the city is sponsoring efforts for more street-food vendors, and the food-truck craze is well entrenched -- even if the city hasn't made it easy. Most chefs in Denver or Boulder have some sort of connection to local products, so maybe the best thing to say is that I'd like to see more of what's already being done.

Robin Baron, Udi's Pizza Cafe Bar, Udi's Bread Cafes (four locations)

I love the street-food trend and would love to see more outdoor food courts. The food-truck movement opens up the restaurant industry to talented, young and inspirational cooks who may have great ideas but don't have the capital or backing to open a restaurant -- plus the limited space forces the cooks to be extra-creative.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson