Part two: Chef and Tell with Justin Brunson from Masterpiece Deli
This is part two of Lori Midson's Q&A with Justin Brunson, chef/owner of Masterpiece Delicatessen. To read part one of that interview, click here.
Greatest accomplishment as a chef: Becoming a restaurateur. You work so many years in the trenches to get to that point, and I got the chance to become a restaurateur at a really young age: 27. It means a lot to me to work for myself and my partners. I've never been a big fan of being told what to do by others. At the same time, it's super-cool to create jobs for some awesome people, and to be a part of a kick-ass neighborhood. I also get a strong sense of accomplishment when I do charity functions. It's very cool to have a following of people who want to come to our events, spend money to support the charity, eat our food and appreciate our efforts.
Favorite music to cook by: Grateful Dead, Motown, PHISH and Miles Davis. It's all music that puts me in a good state of mind -- and being in a good state of mind makes my food taste better. You can always tell when I'm at the restaurant, because that's what's we play. When I'm not here, it's all '80s crap.
Biggest kitchen disaster: Right out of culinary school, I got a job at Michael's at the Citadel in Scottsdale, Arizona, which was the hottest restaurant there for years. I was in charge of the lunch program, doing all the specials, making the soups of the day and doing all the ordering. It was a great opportunity, and I thank all of the guys there for my chops. That said, I was making chili for a soup of the day, and I couldn't find any beef stock, so I thought I would use some demi. I didn't know the night guys were running low on the stuff, so, needless to say, they were short for night service. I almost got killed by my Tyrant Chef, who was irate -- so thankful I didn't die. I thought for sure I was going to lose my job. On the upside, I found out that a little demi makes one hell of a great pot of chili.
One book that every chef should read: Anything by Stéphane Reynaud, but I especially like Pork and Sons, French Feasts: 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings and Terrine. They're all chef-driven books written with passion about old-school French foods and techniques.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network, and what would it be about? Fuck the Food Network. Alton, you're still cool, because you know what's up.
Current Denver culinary genius: Big Alex Seidel over at Fruition. His technique is strong, his vision is clear, and the food at Fruition is solid, well-cooked and perfectly seasoned. The service is great, too, from Pauly at the front door to the busers. The new beer list is a ten, too. Too bad Alex can't putt.