Part two: Ya Ya's Aaron Whitcomb on temper control, the phenomenon that's Alex Seidel and becoming the food critic for Westword
YaYa's Euro Bistro
8310 East Belleview Avenue, Greenwood Village
This is part two of my interview with Aaron Whitcomb. To read part one of that interview, click here.
Six words to describe your food: Playful, classic, experimental, simple, flavorful and technique-driven.
Ten words to describe you: Straightforward, quite loud, quiet, playful, MacGyver-esque, energetic, bipolar and funny.
Culinary inspirations: Thomas Keller for his simplicity and perfection; Alice Waters for being so instrumental in the farm-to-table movement; Daniel Boulud for his decadence; Marco Pierre White for his sheer determination and perseverance; Michael Richard for his playfulness and how much fun he has with food; Auguste Escoffier for his genius and forbearance of all things French; James Beard for his promotion of American chefs and classic American food; Ferran Adrià for pioneering the advancement of scientific cooking; and Jose Andres for his passion, energy and vibrancy.
Best food city in America: I'm somewhat biased because I used to live there, but Chicago has the same diversity as New York, with the laid-back atmosphere of the Midwest. Food-wise, there are really great ethnic neighborhoods where you can get authentic meals, and some hard-core restaurants that will completely blow your mind.
Favorite restaurant in America: The French Laundry. I've never had dining experiences that are closer to perfection in every aspect than the ones I've had at the French Laundry.
Proudest moment as a chef: It's a toss-up between Table 6 getting Esquire magazine's Top 20 Best New Restaurants award and Food & Wine magazine featuring me as "Rising Star Chef." Both happened around the same time, and I couldn't have done any of it without our great team at Table 6.
Favorite cookbooks: The French Laundry Cookbook, because it's all about the pursuit of perfection; Happy in the Kitchen for its playful, yet serious food; The Escoffier Cookbook because of his great French food roots; James Beard American Cookery, a collection of classic American foods; and Culinary Artistry and The Food Bible, two books that are amazing tools to aid my creative process.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network? It would primarily be about pairing combinations of food and wine and how the two work together harmoniously to add to the overall experience. Second, it would be about pairing up winemakers with chefs to create exquisite dining experiences at the wineries -- legit chefs and wineries; none of these generic wineries with mass-made wines sponsoring talentless chefs.
Current Denver culinary genius: With Fruition, his farm, making cheese and beer and the Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef award, Alex Seidel is rolling right now. I mean, what doesn't this guy do? Plus, he's all about proper technique, great ingredients and simplicity.
You're making a pizza. What's on it? Black-truffle crema, mushrooms, pea shoots, bacon, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and an egg yolk at the very end of cooking. Oh, wait: That's already on my menu, and I love it.