Rod Dupen Waffle Brothers 393 Corona Street; 303-733-1212 1707 Lafayette Street; 720-708-5150 1326 College Avenue, Boulder; 303-593-0510 wafflebrothers.com This is part one of my interview with Ron Dupen, exec chef of Waffle Brothers; part two of our chat will run tomorrow.
When you swish through the door of Waffle Brothers, co-owner and chef Rod Dupen, who's typically behind the counter, will likely greet you with a booming "G'Day," followed by a fleet of words and phrases that incorporate Australian slang. "Mate" is a good bet. Despite the fact that Dupen has lived in the States for nearly two decades, he's still all animated Aussie, right down to the accent, which isn't quite "crocodile hunter," but it's close.
Born in Sydney, the Australian native grew up surrounded by food -- and family, friends and neighbors who shared in the bounty. "A bunch of us would all head down to the markets and go spear-fishing, call the neighbors to let them know we had a feed, and then we'd all gather in the back yard and eat, drink, sing, play instruments and write poetry," remembers Dupen. "Everyone cooked," including him: "I loved making cakes and making up my own recipes, and when I failed, I just made another one."
When he wasn't feasting, Dupen was biding his time slinging drinks behind the stick, saving money to embark on a journey around the globe. His travels took him to England, where he worked alongside a personal chef who cooked for an English lord. "I started as a dish hand and worked my way up to being a cook, cooking for people of influence at different events, dinners and gatherings," says Dupen. "I loved the whole process of cooking, the plating and the perfection of precision. It amazed me."
But once he left England and flew across the pond to America, specifically Boston, he gave up it all up, taking gigs selling cars and working for a motion-picture film lab. After nearly five years in Beantown, he headed to Denver on the advice of a friend, who convinced him that the Mile High City offered a swell of solid business opportunities. Dupen became an options broker and then took a job as a functional-specifications writer for a securities-software company. And it was while he was there that he strayed back into the food world, starting an Internet beef company called the CrazyButcher. Not long after, he and John Power, his then-neighbor and now business partner, started bantering about waffles.