Table Mountain Inn's Luke Mewbourn harps on foie gras and Lady Gaga and hails the righteousness of Jim's Burger Haven
This is part one of my interview with Luke Mewbourn, executive chef of Table Mountain Inn Grill & Cantina. Part two of this interview will run tomorrow.
Denver native Luke Mewbourn has defied the odds, racking up more than two dozen jobs during his 35 years on earth without getting the ax. Not even once. "I always leave before I get fired," jokes Mewbourn, now executive chef at Table Mountain Inn Grill & Cantina in Golden. "I've learned that you bust your ass at one place until you can't bust it anymore, and then you go bust it somewhere else."
He's been busting his ass in the kitchen of the Table Mountain Inn for the past five years -- his longest gig since getting his first restaurant job twenty years ago in a bakery. "My grandmothers, one of whom was Southern, cooked all day, every day, and their passion was so palpable that I knew I wanted to cook -- that I would end up in the kitchen -- and when my dad told me to go find a job, the first place I went was to a restaurant," recalls Mewbourn, who was living in Grand Lake at the time and was all of fourteen.
He stuck around the bakery for a few years and then dallied in other mountain kitchens, doing "a little bit of everything," he says, before moving back to Denver at eighteen and landing at an Outback Steakhouse as a grill and sauté cook. Four years later, seeking a new opportunity, he secured a stint as a line cook at the Omni Hotel. "I wanted to work for a better company, do a different style of food and learn something new," says Mewbourn. It wasn't long, though, before he got restless: "I wasn't really sure the hotel industry was right for me, and since I'm a man of opportunities, I started hunting for a new job."
At the time, the Fourth Story (a long-gone restaurant on top of the also now-gone Cherry Creek Tattered Cover) was just opening under the command of Chris Cina (now chef at the Hideaway Steakhouse in Westminster), and Cina was seeking a line cook. Mewbourn jumped at the opportunity, and when Cina took off to get married and travel to Europe, he was promoted to sous, an assignment that kept him in the Fourth Story kitchen for another year -- until star chef Roy Yamaguchi opened Roy's of Cherry Creek across the street. "I left to take a tour of duty to work for Roy," quips Mewbourn, since six months into that job, Roy's shuttered.