Round two with Thanawat Bates, exec chef of the Palace Arms
This is part two of my interview with Thanawat Bates, exec chef of the Palace Arms at the Brown Palace. Part one of my interview with Bates ran yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: I have so many, and it changes drastically depending on what kind of mood I'm in and which part of the country I'm thinking about. There's seriously no way I can pick just one, but I can name a few of my top favorites: Coi, Aureole, Baume, Benu, Alinea and Per Se. All of those restaurants do everything so well, from the service to the quality of food, to how everything is prepared, to how the final dishes are presented.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: Sushi Sasa. It's consistently fresh and flavorful, and I've never been disappointed.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Both Denver and Boulder have great culinary scenes to keep an eye on. There are some amazing things happening here, a lot of great new chefs joining the old ones, and a lot of creativity that continuously raises the bar for all of us. That said, we could benefit from more consistency and more culture. We're still finding our place on the bigger culinary map, and I think both consistency and culture would help us with that.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Green chile. It's delicious and people love it, but not everyone has to have their own version.
Which chefs in Denver do you most respect? I have a lot of respect for both Wayne Conwell at Sushi Sasa and Alex Seidel at Fruition. They're both doing some really great things that other chefs should take note of. Wayne has proven that we can have great, fresh sushi in Denver, which a lot of people don't think is possible, and Alex has taken being a great chef a step further with Fruition Farm, and not only is he creating locally sourced ingredients, but he also manages to run a fantastic restaurant.
Biggest compliment you've ever received: To see a guest leave happy is a great feeling, but to have a guest return is the biggest compliment I've ever had as a chef. And when they come back a third time, it's the best feeling of all. Even though they might not say anything, the fact that they're coming back tells me that they like what we do -- and they want more of it. That's the best.
How you do you handle customer complaints -- and what should customers do when they're peeved about a dish? Because we're in a hotel, customer complaints are directed to the hotel manager first, and whoever that is always does whatever they can to fix the situation. Whatever a customer shares with the manager is always discussed with me, and I evaluate it with the staff. I would say that it's not so much complaints people have, but opinions and feedback. Some chefs might not like opinions, but I enjoy getting the feedback, especially because most of the time, it's good.