Who's the most underrated chef in Denver? Joe Troupe from Lucky Pie. I don't think he's really underrated, but his food is delicious and craveable.
Would you ever send a dish back if you were dining in a friend's restaurant? No, never. But I would tell them about it later.
What do you expect from a restaurant critic? Anonymity isn't important to me, but I expect restaurant critics to be unbiased and honest, to see the food for what it is and the passion and energy that goes into each dish -- and, of course, to come into the restaurant multiple times. Every restaurant, every server, every cook has their off days -- we're all human, after all -- and that's what makes the food, the drinks and the service have true character.
What advice would you give to an aspiring young chef? It's a long road, so be ready to work hard and don't expect what you see on TV. If you're passionate, stick with it and figure out how to make your dreams become a reality.
What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring kitchen staff? Cooking knowledge is always a plus, but what I really look for is humility, drive and passion. I can teach people to cook, but I can't teach those attributes.
What's your biggest challenge as a chef working in Denver? The fact that I can only get awesome, seasonal Colorado produce between April and October. I'd love to live somewhere like California, where you can get great vegetables from local farmers all year round.
Biggest mistake a chef can make on the line: Yelling gets you nowhere. You can get your point across without raising your voice.
Your biggest pet peeves: I can't stand dirty floors. It's the most used, stomped-on piece of equipment in the kitchen. You wouldn't let your knife get that dirty, so why would you let your floor get dirty?
Your best traits: My wife tells me it's my humility, my passion and my eagerness to never stop learning. I would say it's my willingness to try anything, even when I have no idea what I'm doing.
Your worst traits: My impatience. I'm like an eager child...I guess I never grew out of that.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? Rick Bayless. The man is the godfather of Mexican cooking in this country, and I love Mexican food.