Chef Dylan Moore on fish sauce, the Taco Nazis and effing up snapper Veracruz
This is part one of Lori Midson's interview with Dylan Moore, exec chef of Deluxe, Delite and Deluxe Burger, To read part two of that interview, check this space tomorrow.
"This," proclaims Dylan Moore, stretching out his arms, "is my own little Chipotle." We're camped out at Deluxe Burger, chatting about Moore's rapid rise from a fruit squeezer and buser at Lucile's Creole Cafe, which is owned by his mother, to sharing the line with iconic star chef Jeremiah Tower at Stars in San Francisco (a restaurant where Mario Batali also did a stint), to his current role as chef/owner of Deluxe, Delite, a new Deluxe street-food truck called the Little Orange Rocket, and Deluxe Burger.
"The burger idea was swirling around in my head for months, and I was looking for something to be my Chipotle, so I proposed the idea to Jill Warner, a very good friend of mine who owns Mod Livin' next door, and two days later we were shaking hands," recalls Moore, who co-owns Deluxe Burger with Warner. "It feels kind of weird to say this, but I think that burgers are my future, and this is a concept that I want to multiply." Starting, he says, with a second location on Broadway, the stretch of asphalt where Deluxe and Delite reside.
Moore leans back in his chair and shakes his head. "You want to know what the weirdest thing about that wish is?" he asks. "I sold my soul for burgers once before, and it ended up being a horrible experience that ended in a bad breakup." Moore had been working in a San Francisco restaurant that he likens to a "Gordon Ramsay kitchen nightmare" before moving to Denver in 1994 and taking the exec chef position at the Firehouse Bar and Grill -- in a building that today houses the Rio -- working alongside Mark Berzins, now the managing partner of Little Pub Co. "It was an ill-conceived restaurant, and by the end, it was a pretty ugly scene with lots of blame to go around," remembers Moore, who stepped away from the restaurant scene altogether for nearly a decade while he collected "junk" -- a passion that's superseded only by cooking -- and opened a vintage store on Broadway he named Decade. "I was used up," he remembers, "and after my experience at the Firehouse, I decided, then and there, that my next restaurant would be my own deal, but first I had to find the right space" -- which he did, eventually, two doors down from Decade.
He christened it Deluxe. "My nickname has always been 'Big D,' which is why all of my restaurants begin with that letter," Moore explains. He spent six months virtually alone in the space, hiding behind the papered windows. "After I opened, I almost didn't want anyone to come in, because I'd spent so much time in there by myself, building everything from scratch," he says. But people did come, and in 2008, Moore opened Delite, a convivial bar next door, which he followed with Deluxe Burger in February and, just last month, the food truck. "I love having new projects," admits Moore. "I get antsy if I'm too complacent or things get too comfy. I like chaos, and projects motivate me."
During our conversation, Moore expands on his plans for the future, confesses to an obsession with fish sauce, hates on strawberries and admits to fucking up the food of two very prominent Denver restaurateurs.