Part two: Z Cuisine's Charles MacDonald destroys Oreos
Don't miss part one of Lori Midson's interview with Charles MacDonald, the chef de cuisine of Z Cuisine.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Less grammar, more hammer. I say that a lot in the kitchen, but seriously, take your time and do it right is what I tell all of our stages. We do simple food at Z, and in order to pull that off, we have to do it right every time. We also put a lot of effort in finding the best ingredients we can, so it's important that our products are treated with the respect they deserve. On our plate presentations, the rim within the rim has to be clean. Nothing can be on the rim. I can't stand it. Fix it or redo it. And I also don't allow any handling of raw foods with bare hands. And clutter drives me crazy. If you've got the time to lean, you've got the time to clean.
Favorite restaurant in America: Cyrus, in Healdsburg, California. I had the privilege of working there for a short stint with Doug Keane, the executive chef, and his food is beyond description. They source the best ingredients I've ever seen, and his staff executes at the highest level of perfection.
Best food city in America: I think, regionally, Northern California takes the cake -- places like Sonoma, Yountville, Napa, Healdsburg and, of course, San Francisco. Chefs, cooks and the people who live there just have access to some of the best products in America, and that, coupled with some of the most talented chefs around, is a recipe for success. It's the fruit basket of America; there's just a bounty of food there.
Favorite Denver restaurant(s) other than your own: La Mexicana taquería is right around the corner from us, and, oh, man, I eat there all the time. I'm the chef of a French restaurant, but I swear I eat more Mexican food than anything else -- tacos, tacos and more tacos. I also really like Pho 79 , J's Noodles and the sandwiches from Carbone's; these are the places I eat at all the time. Other than that, though, Sushi Den is out of control. It's so good.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: A lot of people pull the "local" and "organic" card these days but don't even know half the farmers in Colorado. If you're going to claim it, then do it. I know it's expensive and more difficult to source locally, but if you attract business by saying you're a "farm-to-table" restaurant, then live up to it. We have some amazing farmers and providers in Colorado doing some amazing things. I would love to see more support for them.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver from a culinary standpoint: Poor execution. I've eaten a fair amount of dishes in Denver that have led to disappointment. Chefs have great ideas, but then don't pull them off right. I'm not saying that what I do is by any means perfect, but I think sometimes chefs get ahead of themselves and try to cook trendy items without fully understanding them. Stick to what you know, I guess.