Round two with Jensen Cummings, exec chef of Row 14

jensenandapig.jpg
Lori Midson

Jensen Cummings
Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar
891 14th Street
303-825-0100
www.row14denver.com

This is part two of my interview with Jensen Cummings, exec chef of Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar. Part one of that interview ran yesterday.

What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I'm a Japanese-French-Irish-American boy from SoCal, and more than anything else, I want to see some really great New York-style Jewish delis. I want some pastrami on rye, latkes, a bagel with a shmear, and a couple old dudes in the corner playing chess and smoking European cigarettes.

What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Mediocre Mexican food. I was spoiled growing up in San Diego, and it pains me to see so many small Mexican restaurants that I really want to like disappoint me over and over, again and again. It can't be because they don't know how to cook great Mexican food, so maybe the clientele has "gringofied" them into submission. I really don't know.

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? If I ever get around to using it, I have a super-sweet ice cream maker, but that would mean I either have to take it to work or actually cook at home.

Favorite dish to cook at home: If I really have to cook at home, I really like to do the "all-grill meal," with meats, veggies, cheese, lettuce and bread all thrown on the grill; that way, everything can taste like propane. Ha! I'm kidding, but it's all usually really good, and I love just using one piece of equipment.

Favorite dish on your menu: Right now, it's the Philly cheesesteak empanadas. I love that we can take an iconic dish from Philadelphia -- gotta use the Whiz Cheez to be a real Philly -- and an iconic dish of South America and bring them together. People from Philly could close their eyes, eat them and get a sense of their homeland, while people from Argentina, who's been eating empanadas stuffed with beef, onions and cheese their whole lives, can be similarly transported back to their childhood. The connection between food and culture brings people together. Deep, huh?

If you could put any dish on your menu, even though it might not sell, what would it be? I'd love to do a play on turducken with pork belly stuffed with beef tongue stuffed with duck foie gras -- and then make John Madden eat it. Actually, I think that might sell. Hey, that's tonight's special at Row 14.


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4 comments
Sausage
Sausage

Cheese wiz, this guy's a fuckin retard!

William Cummings
William Cummings

Even , maybe mostly , fathers can be ' Surprisingly Inspired '  by the person their ' Offspring ' is  With and For others  !   I Love Jensen's , all my kids , ease in their own skins .   I'm Thoughtfully Tickled by his ' Zen , Fortune Cookie Wisdom's ' !   In ' The Heat of Battle ' they're   helpfully annoying  , my kids still '  Mock ' mine  ( :      Insightful  ' Distinction ' -  his Culinary Passion took over his Intellect (vs.) He'd be a Rocket Scientist if his ' Intellect had taken over his Passions   !   I love the way he acknowledges , by name :  Vintners ; Brewers ; Restauratuers ; Peers ; Staff ;  Growers  and more  !   Authentic Acknowledgements , One of the best Antidotes for '  Becoming A Legend in Your Own Mind '    !    I Love Denver/Boulder/ ,  Hell Colorado ,  and  am a bit envious  of  your ' Food/Arts/Outdoors & Culture Scene  !   I'm so glad that Jensen & Betsy , (+) Sushi Samurai Mitchell Cummings , are living there .   

Fresh & Local
Fresh & Local

Dear Chef: With regards to your request for authentic deli food, I respectfully invite you to visit us at the Continental Deli in Cherry Creek North. We make amazing handmade sausages but also the world's very best pastrami - right here in Denver! - and I would love for you to sample our authentic German deli specialties. Thank you for your support of local business!

Mantonat
Mantonat

Great interview with an entertaining and intelligent guy; I trust the judgment of anyone who likes geueze. A couple of his answers raised my hackles though. First, if you are going to criticize the Denver Mexican restaurant scene, let us know where you ate that you thought was mediocre. Denver has some incredible family-run Mexican restaurants that can compete with anywhere in the US and even Mexico itself. True there are places like Hacienda Colorado, but I wouldn't even call that Mexican. What Denver lacks is representation of regional Mexican specialties. Oaxaca in particular is glaringly underrepresented.The other comment was about not getting peeved since it's only food. It's also time and pleasure. If I'm having an intimate dinner with my wife or enjoying an outing with friends, it's very difficult to complain about a dish and then sit there while the problem gets rectified without disrupting the entire experience and adding additional time waiting and either watching my companions eat or making them wait. Restaurants should consider this when fixing a problem. Offer a free app (something quick) while the offending dish is being re-made. Maybe send out some tap-dancers or a comedian to entertain while the guest is waiting.

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