Cafe Society

Part two with Jimmy Bernat, exec chef of Jimmy's Urban Bar & Grill

Jimmy Bernat Jimmy's Urban Bar & Grill 1530 Blake Street 303-298-5000 lodojimmys.com

This is part two of my interview with Jimmy Bernat, exec chef of Jimmy's Urban Bar & Grill; part one of our chat ran yesterday.

Which chef has most inspired you? My dad pretty much got me into cooking at a young age and taught me flavor matching, different tastes and how to simply not burn down the house. After that, I'd have to say watching the Boy Meets Grill show with Bobby Flay. That got me really into grilling and experimenting with grilling and slow-cooking meats.

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What piece of advice would you give to a young chef? Don't be afraid to experiment or fail at a dish. Some of my best dishes came from mistakes, and isn't a mistake the best form of learning?

What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring kitchen staff? The ability to work without being babysat, and a staff that doesn't blame others for their mistakes. I also look for staff that has a lot of live, high-volume kitchen experience; I like a good blend of speed.

Biggest mistake a chef can make on the line: Not knowing where everything is. I think the most important thing is having a solid grasp of knowing where everything is in your kitchen before getting into live line-cooking action.

Craziest night in the kitchen: It had to be my friends-and-family night at Urban Bliss Cafe, my old restaurant in Broomfield. The kitchen was extremely huge, I was understaffed, we had more people than anticipated by triple, and I think I ran at least two miles just going back and forth between the naanza station and the sauté station, which sat about thirty yards apart.

Biggest moment of euphoria in the kitchen: It's hard to pinpoint one, but I get a high level of euphoria after any really busy service that might start off rough but gets smoothed out and ends on a high note.

Greatest accomplishment as a chef: Getting Jimmy's Urban Bar & Grill open in just over a month. I spent sixteen to twenty hours a day working on the place to get it open in May, and while everyone said it was impossible to get open that quickly, I proved them wrong. It's all about hard work.

You're stranded on a desert island. Which chefs would you want to have with you? My head chef, Nate Gravina, because he can whip up some amazing brunch; Bobby Flay for some delicious barbecue; Giada de Laurentiis for the eye candy; and Alton Brown for his makeshift cooking-method abilities.

If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? I'd love to cook with Mario Batali. His approach to Italian food is just fantastic. I'd really enjoy expanding my Italian cooking knowledge -- and who better than to learn from than Mario?

Favorite dish on your menu: Either the African chicken sandwich or Big Jimmy's beef -- my Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich, which is the best in Denver, in my opinion. Our blue-mussel linguine with housemade noodles and truffle scampi sauce is amazing, too, and so is the chicken and waffles with Crown Royal maple gravy. I guess I like everything on my menu -- that's why it's on there.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson

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