Robert Bogart, executive chef of Elway's Downtown, raps on strange guest requests, one roof and how he wishes that cooks would get the respect they deserve
Favorite spice: Chile powders. You can add them to just about anything, and there are so many flavors of chile powders beyond just hot.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I'd love to see more inexpensive, quality sushi restaurants and more late-night dining options -- at least after 10 p.m., when I get off work.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Fewer under-appreciated cooks. I've worked at so many independent restaurants where the cooks aren't appreciated; these guys cook passionately and get no glory. They sweat in the back and put everything they have into service, while the servers and owners reap the benefits. I just believe that giving them a good wage, benefits and some sort of security would actually benefit the industry.
Current Denver culinary genius: Jeff Cleary, from Grateful Bread. The man is definitely a genius. Every time we talk, he's like a mad scientist, telling me the scientific reasons behind why and how certain breads work. He has certain formulas for making bread that can compensate for temperature and weather, which is great. I've had huge problems with the bread's consistency from other Denver bread companies because of the unpredictable way Colorado's temperature and weather changes -- but Jeff's on it. All of his bread is delicious, and he'll do anything we want.
Favorite restaurant in America: The French Laundry. I have yet to go, but I have the cookbook and have always loved Thomas Keller's work; he's just amazing. I hope one day I'll be able to travel out to Napa Valley and experience his cuisine firsthand. I grew up in Canada, though, and my favorite restaurant there is North 44, in Toronto. It serves really great food, there's great people-watching, and I've got a lot of really good childhood memories from eating there.
Best food city in America: Denver. And, yes, I know that some people may think that's a ridiculous assertion compared to the food scenes of New York, Las Vegas, Chicago and San Francisco, but it's just incredible how far this city has come. In the past seven years since I moved here, the dining scene has been completely transformed. We have everything.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: I had a great meal at Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder; they're top-notch cooks. I also know a few chefs who worked there, and I love their discipline.
Favorite celebrity chef: Mario Batali, by far, teaches the best real food. I've been watching him forever. He has a way of bringing real Italian cooking into your living room without fluff -- just real cooking. I also heard him once say that the reason restaurants fail is because of a division between the front and back of the house. He's right: I've seen it, and I believe very strongly that in a restaurant you're one house, under one roof.