Chef and Tell, part two: Snooze's Spencer Lomax dishes on lard-ridden pastries, Eric Ripert, Bourdain and Besh

Spencer Lomax 2.jpg
Lori Midson

Spencer Lomax
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Four locations in Colorado
www.snoozeeatery.com

This is part two of Lori Midson's Chef and Tell interview with Spencer Lomax, the culinary director of Snooze. In part one of that Q&A, Lomax dishes on swine, green chile and cheek meat.

Favorite restaurant in America: El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma. A few years back, my wife and I tucked into their chef's tasting menu and wine pairing, and about four hours later realized we'd just had the best meal of our lives. The chef at the time and most of his line were expats from the French Laundry who started their own outpost over in Sonoma. The food was inspired, the wine pairings were thoughtful and generous, the service was unmatched, and the patio setting on a cool Nor-Cal evening was perfect.

Best food city in America: Call me a nativist, but I think Denver -- especially if you include Boulder -- is, pound for pound, fast becoming the Manny Pacquiao of food cities, fighting well above its weight class against the likes of New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland. Combine a thriving sustainable and local agriculture scene with a growing list of heavy-hitting restaurants garnering national praise -- restaurants like Frasca, Mizuna, Fruition and Colt & Gray, just to name a few -- and I feel that we can more than hold our own.

Favorite music to cook by: Some mix of the Black Keys, Calexico, Langhorne Slim, anything Stephen Malkmus, Townes Van Zandt, A Tribe Called Quest, the Felice Brothers, the Avett Brothers and Toots & the Maytals. I also play in a bluegrass band called the Highland Ramblers -- picture a boozed-up hoedown -- so I mix in plenty of bluegrass as well.

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? For Christmas last year, my sister-in-law gave us an olive tree. Actually, she gave us a year's worth of olive oil production from an "adopted" olive tree in Italy through a company called Nudo. We started out getting tins of the highest-quality oil from the first pressing, and then later on in the year, they sent the second pressing, which they had infused with either chiles, lemons or clementines, which are amazing drizzled on salads and pastas. The oils are really tasty, and I find myself reaching for the tins just about every time I'm in the kitchen.

Favorite dish to cook at home: Whatever I can cobble together using our backyard garden bounty. This year we had an abundance of arugula, Swiss chard, watermelon radish, Sun Gold tomatoes, mortgage-lifter tomatoes, poblanos, tomatillos, serrano chiles, heirloom carrots, celery, snap peas, golden beets, red scallions, Vietnamese coriander, strawberries, peaches, cherries, basil and rosemary. Pile some of that goodness into a salad or with meat or fish and we're happy campers.

One book that every chef should read: Eric Ripert's On the Line. I mean, he's Eric Ripert, but aside from the fact that he's Eric Ripert, it's also a very introspective look at Le Bernardin, and just a beautifully put-together, straight-ahead book.


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