Cafe Society

Patrik Landberg, exec chef of Charcoal, on opening additional restaurants, food trends and the "snapshot" comments on social review sites

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What are your kitchen-tool obsessions? My meat grinder is my new best friend. I can make countless different sausages, and the flavor difference between packaged sausages and fresh-ground-and-stuffed sausages is remarkable. We've made duck sausages, pork sausages and breakfast sausages, and we're experimenting with others. The benefit of housemade sausages is that we can adjust the texture, spices and density to fit our flavor profile. Many people have asked if we sell sausages to go; our answer is not yet. I also couldn't cook without my Japanese Misono 440 Nenox knives. I've had them for so many years, and no other knives feel right in my hand. I particularly love Japanese knives that have an edge on only one side.

Best recent food find: Il Mondo Vecchio cured meats, especially the porcini mushroom salumi and the pepperoni.

Most underrated ingredient: Acidity -- lemon, wine, vinegar and the like. When added properly, acidity can elevate and balance the taste of any dish. The key is knowing how much to apply -- and when to apply it.

Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Colorado sweet corn and peaches from the Western Slope. There's something about the hot days and cold nights that produce the perfect amount of sugar in the produce.

Food trend you wish would go away: In my opinion, food trends aren't important -- it's all marketing. My philosophy is to eat whatever tastes good and makes you feel happy. Great food is timeless. That said, I find it interesting that Scandinavian food is the trend of the moment. I'm glad that chefs and diners are taking an interest in some of the great food I grew up with, like herring and gravlax.

Favorite spice: Dill. What's not to like? I'm from Sweden, and we use a lot of dill in Sweden. Dill pairs beautifully with American wines, too, because of the wood we use in our wine barrels. True, dill is a strong herb, but just the right amount can give a dish that little extra something that makes you wonder, what is that?

One food you detest: Fermented herring, or "surströmming," which is a popular dish in northern Sweden. The smell is unbearable -- so unbearable that most rental apartments won't even let you eat it inside. People either love it or hate it, but the majority of people hate it.

One food you can't live without: Seafood. I love everything from the ocean, especially oysters and caviar.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson

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