Round two with Noah Stephens, executive chef of Vert kitchen
This is part two of my interview with Noah Stephens, exec chef/owner of Vert Kitchen. Part one of my chat with Stephens ran in this space yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: I love French restaurants, and my favorite is Le Bernardin in New York City. I had the most amazing meal here. Everything, from the service to the wine to the food, was absolutely perfect. My favorite dish was this tuna that was pounded paper thin and then laid over lightly seared foie gras that was topped with caviar, olive oil and chives. It was incredible. I wish I could eat it every day.
Best food city in America: I know it's the obvious answer, but New York is great, and I'm never hungry while I'm in New York. To me, it's the food epicenter of America, mainly because it has so many different ethnic foods and there are endless places -- both classic and new -- to try all over the city. There is such a spectrum of restaurant experiences, from the best slice of pizza to Thomas Keller's Per Se. I try to make it out there at least twice a year just to see what's going on.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: Some of my favorites are Sushi Den, Potager and Table 6. I always know that I'm going to get a great meal at all of these restaurants.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I'd like to see more casual restaurants that focus on simple dishes that take advantage of high-quality ingredients -- places that are affordable, welcoming, really healthy and where I could eat on a consistent basis without feeling gluttonous. I'd love to be able to get a fresh salad and a nice glass of wine without needing a reservation or waiting forever to get in.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I'm beginning to see too many hamburger places. They're all kind of the same after a while, and since Denver is one of the fittest cities in America, it just seems crazy to have so many.
One book that every chef should read: Raw: The Uncook Book, by Juliano Brotman. It's a raw-food cookbook that I use all the time for inspiration -- and it's full of really creative and great recipes that are health forward. I ate a raw-food diet for about three months and felt great.