This is part two of my interview with Tom Coohill, exec chef/owner of Coohills. Part one of my chat with Coohill appeared in this space yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: Hangawi in New York City has the most interesting vegetarian food I've seen. I still can't figure out how they work their tofu. Hangawi stands out the most in my mind for their creative side.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: The Kitchen in Boulder, ChoLon and Euclid Hall are just a few. I really appreciate food that's done properly, and I like to go to places that do different things than I do here.
Last restaurant you visited: ChoLon, which does a great job, and it's refreshing to eat Lon's food.
Which chef in Denver/Boulder do you most respect? Cade Nagy, the owner of Catering by Design, does amazing food. Catered food normally isn't very creative, but Cade has the ability to create amazing displays, and the quality of his food is excellent, which is hard to accomplish when you're dealing with so much volume, but Cade does it with grace.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: A really good Jewish deli. I love a great corned beef and rye sandwich. Yummy.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Fewer Tex-Mex and steakhouses. There are already so many good ones here, so please stop making my decisions all the more difficult.
Favorite music to cook by: Ritmo y Alegra has a good Brazilian beat, although I normally listen to classic rock when I'm not cooking. Rush is my all-time favorite band.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Focus on the food you're preparing, work clean and don't talk too much. Cooks need to stay on task, because it's way too hard to make things the right way when you're distracted. I like to have fun, but you've got to focus on what you're doing. I always joke with the chefs that if they make too many mistakes then they're going to have to go to an American Culinary Foundation meeting and dress like an old-school chef.
Biggest kitchen disaster: We did apple tarts that were made with salt instead of sugar -- thirty of them, to be exact. We had to throw them all out. Not only that, but we had all of an hour to make new ones for dinner service. It was a fiasco.