Cafe Society

Samuel McCandless, chef de cuisine at the Squeaky Bean: "Start with the best and end with something even better"

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Food trend you'd like to see emerge in 2014: I'm so behind on food trends, but I really would like to see a trend in healthier foods in restaurants. Good fat is healthy. I guess I'd like to see more good fat, great veggies and sustainable meat from Colorado. That should be obvious, though, as opposed to a trend.

Food trend you'd like to see disappear in 2014: I'm sick of hearing about pork and whole-animal butchery. Yeah, it's really cool; I even have a pig tattooed on my arm, for goodness' sake -- it's that cool. Ultimately, though, all meat is cool; all veggies are cool; all food that's raised in the proper way by someone who cares about it from start to end is cool. Focus on quality of production and buy accordingly.

Favorite piece of kitchen equipment: A very well-built table with a hood vent, which is as basic as it gets. I love the dist-vac, freeze dehydrator and Pacojet, too, but come on: Without the basics, things as fun as those wouldn't exist.

Your favorite smell in the kitchen: There are many individual smells that I love: traditionally braised lamb shanks, sautéing white mirepoix, roasted garlic in the skin, veal basting in butter with thyme, and super-fresh ikejime fish that's as clean-scented as the ocean we wish we had. That said, my all-time favorite scent is a kitchen that smells like it's functioning on all cylinders. Walking from station to station and having your nose tell you that everything is okay is the best smell ever. Complicated but so simple. Nostalgic.

What's your fantasy splurge? Fantasy splurge. Shit, you got me at fantasy. I'd travel the world with Willa, my daughter, and eat everywhere.

If you could have dinner, all expenses paid, at any restaurant in the world, where would you go? Nihonryori Ryugin, in Tokyo. Seji Yamamoto has truly fascinated me from the second I laid eyes on someone trying to do something similar to his strawberry dessert. He's so thoughtful and clean; his food is East-meets-West in the East; and if you haven't seen any of the Tokyogastronomy videos on YouTube, well, you should. And I hope you do. I first heard of him on wbpstars.com, the site for reviewing "the best restaurants in the world." That's where you'll find the real one though sixty in the world, and Ryugin, which is on there, is the place I'd like to eat the most.

If you could dress any way you want, what would you wear in the kitchen? I wouldn't wear a chef coat. Ever. What's the point unless you're working the start of a braise or using pans a lot? A more efficient long-sleeved coat could be made, though -- something breathable and comfortable. I like my workout clothes a lot and shoes with less than a four-millimeter rise from toe to heel. Workout clothes made for sweating make a lot of sense to me.

It's your night off and you're starving. What's your go-to quick fix? A Big Daddy bacon cheeseburger from Good Times. I indulge in one maybe twice a year, and it's awesome. I'm not really proud of it, though. Aside from that, it's meat and sweet potatoes cooked in coconut oil.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson

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