Part two: Chef and Tell with Corey Cunningham from Baur's
Proudest moment as a chef: When I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I'd been cooking for six or seven years before I went to culinary school, and for me, it was an all-or-nothing proposition: If I didn't get accepted into CIA, then I wasn't going to culinary school at all. I only wanted to go CIA, and when I got in, I was only nineteen. My career path was chosen, and I'd achieved something that at one point seemed impossible.
Favorite music to cook by: I like to cook to heavier music or anything that's upbeat, because it keeps me in tempo while cooking. I really like listening to Metallica. But mainly, I'll just throw on the radio and listen to 93.3 KTCL or 106.7 KBPI. I do shut off the radio during service, just so we can all hear each other. My staff needs to hear me, and I need to hear them.
Favorite restaurant in America: Although I've have only eaten there once, I loved Alinea. I was so impressed by the way the entire service staff flowed; they all knew exactly what to do and where to be at the proper time. Having dinner there was more like a show than a meal, just because everything was so choreographed. It was really incredible how the servers explained our food and what the purpose of it all was. And the way the kitchen is set up is amazing: All of the equipment is movable, which pretty much gives you the freedom to do anything.
Best food city in America: New York. It's such a great melting pot of ethnic diversity. Having all those cuisines and cultures together in one place creates a wonderfully diverse food scene.
Most embarrassing moment in the kitchen: Being completely weeded on a busy Thanksgiving and almost not making it to the bathroom in time. The employee bathroom was on the fifth floor and the kitchen was on the first floor. I ran like hell.
Culinarily speaking, Denver has the best: Beer scene, beer selection and beer styles. Love the beer here.
Culinarily speaking, Denver has the worst: Chinese food. I've been in Denver for two and a half years, and I still haven't found a good Chinese restaurant.
Favorite cookbooks: Joy of Cooking. It lays down the basics of food and has all your classic preparations, but the recipes allow for your own creativity, too. I also really like to read about other chefs' philosophies and views on food and cooking -- why chefs cook the different foods that they do. Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook is a great example of that. I also really like Harold McGee's On Food & Cooking.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network? I'd pitch a show about getting kids involved in food and cooking -- almost like a mini Iron Chef. Kids would be paired up with professional chefs in a competitive setting, where they'd be given a task that, with some direction from their chef, they'd have to complete in a certain time frame while trying to outdo the other competitors.