Jonesy's chef Brendon Doyle on running his kitchen like a Spartan army, ordaining his tongs and burger craze overkill
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When Brendon Doyle got his first cooking gig, it had nothing to do with his love for food or the line. "My first kitchen job was at Woody's Wings N Things, and I only took it because all my friends worked there and I thought I'd have fun," admits Doyle, now the executive chef at Jonesy's EatBar, the irreverent gastropub run by Leigh Jones.
No, Woody's wasn't the inspiration for his future career in the culinary world; the golf course was. Doyle's father owned Riverdale Golf Course in Adams County, and after his stint at Woody's, he began working there during the summers, flipping burgers, slinging hot dogs and ultimately installing an outside grill, from where he could feed those bellied golfers who revere food second only to beer. "I loved the aspect of serving food to people, and I started to think that I wanted to explore cooking," says Doyle, who then approached his father with the prospect of culinary school -- an objective that was promptly rejected. "He told me that he'd only consider it if I went and worked in a restaurant, so I did."
That restaurant was Johnny Carino's, where Doyle was hired to do salad prep. "Truth be told, I mostly scrubbed floors," recalls Doyle. Even so, after six months as a grunt, his dad acquiesced, which set the wheels in motion for culinary school at the Art Institute of Colorado. Doyle got a job working banquets at the Westin Westminster, and later, after graduating, at Aix, the former French bistro in Uptown that's now Olivéa. "That was a high-pressure job," says Doyle. "But I was in charge of doing the amuse-bouche every night, which really forced me to think on my feet and create cool food, fast." From there, Doyle went to Campo de Fiori, now Abrusci's, in Cherry Creek, where he was hired as a line cook and, nine months later, was made executive chef.
It was during his tenure at Campo that Doyle met Leigh Jones. "We talked on and off for a few months about my joining the team at Jonesy's, and I had nearly decided to cook in Italy or hang out in Spain when I got an e-mail from Leigh that said if I hadn't booked my ticket, she wanted to talk more seriously about my coming on board there," Doyle recalls. Several conversations later, he had a gig.
"I love working at Jonesy's," says Doyle. "We're comfort food with a passport, so there's no theme, which means I can push my personal limits, create food outside my comfort zone and make dishes based on my current obsessions."
Fetishes, for example, like fennel, shallots, ginger and annatto seeds. Doyle talks about all of those, as well as his annoyance with pork, Bobby Flay and current food trends, in the following interview.