Round two with Table Mountain Inn Grill & Cantina's Luke Mewbourne
This is part two of my interview with Luke Mewbourn, executive chef of Table Mountain Inn Grill & Cantina. In part one of that interview, Mewbourn harps on foie gras and Lady Gaga and hails the righteousness of Jim's Burger Haven.
Greatest accomplishment as a chef: I don't really know if I've had my greatest accomplishment yet, but if I had to choose one, it's the opportunity to be the chef of the great kitchen where I am. Accomplishments, in my opinion, are something that I can't measure yet. I have a lot of cooking left in me, and when I have my greatest accomplishment, then I can start all over again. I haven't hit my limit yet, but when I do, I'll try to find another one to shoot for.
Favorite restaurant in America: I haven't been to my favorite restaurant yet. All the ones I go to are for different reasons, and I'd rather go to a new restaurant than an old one. I don't like to go back to the same restaurant, because I might be missing out on something else. Ultimately, though, my favorite place to eat is at my house, with my family.
Best food city in America: Las Vegas. There are so many choices...and so little time to hit up all the places I want to eat, both on and off the strip. I love that you can eat at anytime of the day or night and still have really good food -- even the hotel buffets.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: More food-savvy, knowledgeable guests who actually understand what they're eating -- rather than eating what's on their plate just for the sake of it. We're more than a meat-and-potato state, which some people still don't seem to get, but the fact of the matter is that we have good products of all kinds, and we know how to use them.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Fewer flashy places. Places should care more about the guests and less about status.
Current Denver culinary genius: I think we all are, in our own way. We all have to love what we do; we all strive to be better than everyone else; and we have to be a little different to work in this industry. I will say that I really respect how Frank Bonanno has spots here, there and everywhere and how he's managed to make them all a go. He also makes a great lobster macaroni and cheese.
What's the best food or kitchen-related gift you've been given? My pots and pans at home. I have no idea what kind they are, but my brother brought them to me in a knapsack. Hell, for all I know, he may have found them at a yard sale, but I love them and they've stood the test of time -- eleven years and counting.
One book that every chef should read: Whatever their favorite cookbook is. You can learn a lot from recipes that have stood the test of time, as well as new ideas to help get the brain flowing. The Joy of Cooking is my favorite cookbook; it's full of simple recipes that everyone can do, and it includes a lot of history about why things are the way they are.