Chef and Tell with Max Mackissock of Squeaky Bean
What you'd like to see more of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: I'd love to have a large community market downtown that would create a foodie environment with cool products that would get people excited about food. I'd love to have something like Pike Place Market in Seattle or the Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. I need to call Mayor Hick and get this thing rolling. I love that stuff, and it's something that's sorely, sorely lacking in Denver. We need to take the best things from our farmers' markets and turn them into one great central culture and food market.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: Shit-talkers. Too many chefs in this town are insecure and feel the need to talk shit about other chefs just to make themselves feel better. Chefs here get jealous when someone else gets press, which is just ridiculous, since the more publicity Denver gets, the better it is for all of us. I love it when I see a Denver restaurant making some national noise, because it reiterates to people that we're not a cow town. The shit-talking really bothers me, and it's bothered me since I moved here. And it needs to go away, because it's detrimental to our food scene.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: I went on this culinary tour in Japan last year where we ate a lot of weird, really funky stuff. But the worst -- and the weirdest -- was definitely the squid guts we had for breakfast. They were slimy and boogery, and raw and gross - and not something you want for breakfast when you've been drinking sake until three in the morning.
Weirdest customer request: At this French place, Provence, in upstate New York, someone wanted to ceremoniously kill a goat in our kitchen, and then they wanted us to cook it for their party. It didn't happen, but it would have been crazy and the owner would have loved it. He was really eccentric.
Best culinary tip for a home cook: Stay out of the hot sun and don't take any wooden nickels. In other words, don't cook at home: Just come to my restaurant.
Current Denver culinary genius: My special lady, Jen Jasinski, is a walking encyclopedia of food. Whether we're talking about the proper way to break down a tuna or how to make the proper emulsion in a sausage, she always knows exactly what to do. Her knowledge of food is insane. She absorbs as much as possible and knows more about technique than just about anyone I know. I argue with her sometimes, but I usually lose. I also think John Broening is freakishly smart in the kitchen -- and with the pen.
Favorite celebrity chef: Tom Colicchio is the man. His food at Gramercy Tavern was some of the most ridiculously good food I've ever had in my life, and on TV, he totally personifies coolness. He's got the best "Are you fucking kidding me?" look of any chef out there.
Celebrity chef who should shut up: I don't have a problem with any of the chefs, per se, but I can't stand the supposed "food personalities" on the Food Network. They bother the hell out of me. Most of the time, they're talking about things that are so mundane and trivial. By and large, what used to be the food education channel is now just awful. Rachael Ray's voice, in particular, makes me want to cut my ears off.
What's next for you? I want to open an Italian restaurant -- not a red-sauce-and-noodles kind of place, but something really cool and different. Right now, it's very conceptual, but that's definitely the next move for me.
This is part one of my interview with Max Mackissock. To read part two of the interview, click here..