Chef and Tell, part two: Geoffrey Groditski on incompetent culinary school grads, pounds of butter and the whole hog
This is part one of my interview with Geoffrey Groditski, executive chef of The Fort. In part one of that interview, Groditski raps on his $40,000 mistake, raw bull's balls and how pine nuts make him puke.
Favorite restaurant in America: Do I really have to answer this? Yeah? Okay, it's the Fort. We had the Denver Summit of the Eight here; we're listed on the National Register of Historic Places; Julia Child loved us; and we're a Colorado institution that's been here almost fifty years and we're still going strong. I love it here, as does the staff, many of whom have been here for more than twenty years. The Fort is unique, and there is no place in America like it.
Best food city in America: It's got to be Chicago. There are so many great restaurants there, and the ethnic diversity in that city allows for great mom-and-pop restaurants, too.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Competent culinary graduates who know how to work and cook. I get tons of resumés from would-be chefs who went to one of the many culinary schools in the Denver/Boulder area, and the only ones who really know how to work and cook are the ones who got their education from the ACF apprentice program at Red Rocks Community College. It makes me sad for the people who spent way too much money on getting an associate's degree.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Crappy Mexican restaurants. They're everywhere, and they all have the same menu. It makes me sad when I get a burrito and know the green chile has been thickened with flour to make it stretch, and everything is oversalted. Places that do this give Mexican food the reputation of being dog food when it's not.
Current Denver culinary genius: There are so many great chefs in Denver that it's really hard to name just one as the culinary genius. That said, I have always loved Michael Long's food and hope that his new venture, Aria, has the same success that Opus has had.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: I like to go out for pho -- love noodles and tendon -- at the smallest little hole-in-the-walls I can find. There's a great little pho place in Aurora, on Peoria and Mississippi, that I love. My kids love it, too. But, honestly, with three kids, it's tough to go out, because on my days off, I want to spend time with my family at home. I did have dinner at Bittersweet recently, and it was damn good. My wife and I will go to Hooters occasionally, too -- we've been doing it for years -- and eat wings and drink. We have she's hot/she's not debates.
Best culinary tip for a home cook: Buy a good knife, learn how to use it, and keep it sharp. Dinner won't take nearly as long to prepare if you know how to use a knife.