Best food city in America: It's got to be New York: bagels from H&H; cookies from a tiny shop in Little Italy; and pizza the size of a kite. What I like most is they aren't cute little boutiques; they're real, honest places putting out the best-quality goods day in and day out.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: The place I always talk about going back to -- and what I'll order the next time I go -- is Lucile's. I love their biscuits so much that I patterned ours after theirs. I love their eggs and trout with a big hot biscuit, jam and coffee.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I'd like to see more restaurateurs taking risks with locations instead of putting up shop exactly where you'd expect. It may be a bad business model, but nonetheless, that's what I'd like to see.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Sign twirlers. If it takes a kid throwing around a plastic sign to bring attention to your place, the problem is on the inside, not the outside.
Current Denver culinary genius: I'll try to stick with what I know. We had only been open a week when Udi and Etai Baron of the Udi's empire stopped in to introduce themselves, and I ended up spending an hour working with Chad White, their master baker, who has an unbelievable knowledge of bread -- and everything else that has to do with baking. He has information just spilling out of him. I describe talking to him about bread as trying to take a sip from a fire hose. He's someone I call when I'm at my wits' end and trying to figure out production issues. When I need cakes, I always go to Erika at Living the Sweet Life up in Highland. Everything she makes is satisfying and delicious, and I think Mark DeNittis at Il Mondo Vecchio is a true meat artist. And when it comes to all-around great chefs, Jeff Osaka and his crew at twelve do everything just right -- no more and no less.
You're making a pizza. What's on it? Oh, man, it's a cranked-up delicious Buffalo-wing pie with blue-cheese sauce and Frank's RedHot sauce on the chicken. Don't hate.