The Palm's Marco Ramirez on new food strategies, his boner and how to cook the perfect steak
This is part two of my interview with Marco Ramirez, executive chef of The Palm. In part one of that interview, Ramirez talks about life in a crazy-busy kitchen, the flood that almost drowned it, and how hard work and determination fulfilled his American dream.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: 1515 Restaurant. I like its French flair, and I've worked alongside Chuck James, the executive chef, who's a great guy. It's a completely understated restaurant that leans toward the fresh, local ingredients that I like to see.
Favorite restaurant in America: The Palm, because it's my place. It's truly an American steakhouse, and there's nothing on the menu that disappoints me. That's not something I can say about any other restaurant.
Best food city in America: Denver. It's my town, and there's great variety here. It's true that we're still trying to find a food that people will identify us with that isn't the Rocky Mountain oyster -- something like New York-style pizza or Chicago dogs -- but despite the fact that there's not really a Denver anything (the Denver omelet doesn't count), I love the food scene here and think that we're pretty well-rounded.
Favorite music to cook by: I like a music-free kitchen at work, but when I'm cooking at home, I'll listen to smooth jazz with a nice glass of red wine to relax. That said, come into the Palm kitchen on a Friday morning, and my guys have their salsa and hip-hop blasting. It sounds like a fiesta.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Newer food strategies. A trend comes along and we seem to beat it to death. Right now, the trend seems to be gastropubs and burger joints. Instead of hopping on the gravy train, I'd like to see some fresh ideas from all the new restaurants. And while we're deemed one of the healthiest cities in America, I find very few restaurants taking advantage of the commendation.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: More locally owned restaurants that are successful and survive the changing palates of our residents.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? A boning knife, which I use for everything, from cutting meat to cutting fish. With a boning knife, the cuts are made so easily and smoothly.
Favorite dish to cook at home: Breakfast. It's a leisurely thing that my family does on the weekends, while I'm still in my pajamas. As for the menu, my wife, Claudia, dictates that. She's partial to a traditional American breakfast of hash browns -- the shredded ones that cook on the flattop -- and eggs over easy. Occasionally, I'll make a mean pancake to go with them; I know who the boss is at my house and how to keep her happy.