Jack-n-Grill's Jack Martinez on mariachi bands, why frog legs aren't his thing and common sense
2524 Federal Boulevard; 2630 West Belleview Avenue
This is part two of Lori Midson's interview with Jack Martinez, owner/exec chef of Jack-n-Grill. To read part one of that Q&A, click here.
Six words to describe your food: My food is love made edible.
Ten words to describe you: Enthusiastic, positive, fun, tenacious, free-thinking, grateful, inspiring, humble, risk-taker and a family man.
Favorite music to cook by: New Mexican Spanish music. There's a marked difference between Mexican music from south of the border and New Mexican music from north of the border. New Mexican Spanish music is more folky and full of passion. It reminds me of my grandma cooking in the kitchen.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: I'd love to see a website specifically for restaurant managers and employees that would allow us to discuss our customers, since our customers are able to discuss our businesses on various websites.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: Fewer Mexican restaurants claiming that they're authentic, especially the ones that put "real" in front of "Mexican food" on their signs. In order to be authentic, you can't serve Americanized Mexican food.
One book that every chef should read: The Rules of Work: The Unspoken Truth About Getting Ahead in Business, by Richard Templar. It's a book of one hundred rules that every chef should read upon coming out of culinary school. They need to understand the business of being a chef, and this book covers that really well. It's also amazing how many aspiring chefs don't have common sense. This is a book that's full of common sense.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network, and what would it be about? I have a particular show in mind that showcases old family recipes and foods that have yet to be introduced or forgotten. I will leave it at that, since I don't want to have my idea pilfered.
Favorite restaurant in America: Without a doubt, El Charritos in Albuquerque. Their New Mexican food is really fresh, abundant, inexpensive and full of true New Mexican flavors. And on Sundays, they have mariachi bands strolling around the dining room -- and I love mariachi bands. And while I know it's a chain, I'm going say it anyway: I really like the Wednesday-night all-you-can-eat lobster deal at Pappadeaux. So there.
Best food city in America: Denver, because we have such a huge diversity of ethnic cuisine.
Best recent food find: The channa chaat with chickpeas, cucumbers and peppers at Little India. It's so full of flavor, and I love all the spices. It's absolutely delicious.