Eric Uffelmann, exec chef of Marlowe's, rips on Denver Restaurant Week and revels in foie gras
It's just past 4 p.m. on a Monday, and the bar at Marlowe's, the oldest independently owned restaurant on the 16th Street Mall, which will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary next February, is already crushed with a sizable crowd. Equally sizable plates and platters emerge from the kitchen; there's rarely a lull. And that's the way Eric Uffelmann, the executive chef of Marlowe's, likes it. "This is nothing," he says, dismissing the rising volume in both sound and bodies. "We get absolutely packed in here, and I like staying busy; otherwise I get bored."
Uffelmann, who was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, grew up on Long Island and still carries a discernible accent, comes from a family of culinarians. "My grandfather always made fresh pastas and breads while I was growing up, and his stash of olive oils was amazing," recalls Uffelmann, whose stepfather attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park -- a path that Uffelmann would eventually follow.
But not before pouring four years into a conventional university, where he learned how to crunch numbers. "For some reason, I wanted to be an accountant, so I got my business administration degree, and then I decided that I really didn't want to be one of those guys who threw myself out of a downtown building," he confesses. "I grew up fishing and couldn't envision myself in a cubicle, pushing papers, but I needed to figure out what the hell I was going to do, so I decided to go to culinary school at the CIA."
And he'd cooked before, both as a kid growing up and during high school, when he spent a few years tossing pizzas. "I worked at a lot -- a lot -- of pizzerias, and I loved it," says Uffelmann, who also remembers the first dish he made as a kid: "It was a fringed tomato with lettuce and tuna fish in the middle of it, and I'm fairly certain that my mother still has a picture of it."
Uffelmann has plenty of snapshots from culinary school, too, where he sponged up all he could during his time in the classroom. "I was like a kid in a candy store, and I worked my ass off," he says. He graduated, pondered his next move and came to the conclusion that it was time to leave the Big Apple. "I'm a water boy, fishing since I was five, and Florida sounded like a good place to go," he recalls. So off he went, in search of a lifestyle that fulfilled his passion for sea critters, food and cooking.