Round two with Mike Peshek, exec chef of Lou's Food Bar
This is part two of my interview with Mike Peshek, exec chef of Lou's Food Bar. Part one of my chat with Peshek ran earlier this week.
Favorite restaurant in America: Pizzeria Regina in Boston. The service is terrible, the lines are always long, but the pizza is so worth it. I think they've expanded into multiple locations and maybe lost some of the original luster, but the first location in the North End will never disappoint. If you're ever in Boston, you also need to go to Toro, a restaurant that utilizes the whole animal in a truly masterful way.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant other than your own: Osteria Marco. I know it's cheating, because we belong to the same restaurant group, but it's the restaurant where my wife and I feel the most comfortable and have had consistently great food. Even if we never see anyone we recognize, we're always treated to outstanding service. Even the basics, like my water always being filled and always having clean silverware, are never overlooked, and it's those small details that can really make or break a dining experience. I also love Duo -- the food, the space and the warm service always measure up to a great time.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: When I lived in Boston, we used to do dinners with -- and for -- chefs, a "chefluck," if you will. I'm not talking about events like Chefs Up Front; I'm talking about dinners for chefs by chefs, in a fun and casual forum where we get together and talk about Colorado products, new trends, microbrews or whatever. It's always great to cook for the public, but as chefs, we rarely get to sit down and enjoy each other's food together, and while it's fun to do events, we're always worried about cleaning, or making sure our equipment is ready to go, which kind of takes away from the social aspect of the event. I respect so many chefs in Denver and would love the opportunity to sit down with them and eat and learn about what makes them who they are. I like my peers, I wish them the best, and would love to discuss what makes their food so damn good.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Now that I've finally entered the technological era, I see a lot of comments on social networking sites that disparage chefs and restaurants. Sometimes people are quick to criticize our food, our restaurants or us without fully appreciating what we're trying to accomplish. Opinions are valuable, but as members of this Colorado culinary club, we should support and encourage each other as much as possible rather than engaging in trash talk and writing negative comments about a restaurant based on a one-time experience. Sites like Yelp can discourage the creation of a positive restaurant scene in Denver, and sometimes we're all -- myself included -- too quick to judge. That said, I've met a lot of good people who are helping to change my outlook.
Last restaurant where you ate: The Wooden Table, a new restaurant in Greenwood Village, co-owned by my friend, Brett Shaheen. It's a beautiful restaurant with beautiful food and top-notch service, and it's definitely worth the drive from downtown Denver; I'd recommend it to anyone. I love the menu, because it's rare that my wife and I can both find multiple dishes that we'd like to share. They've done a wonderful job with creating a space that feels warm and unpretentious, and Brett is just super-talented; his food completes the space.
What do you cook at home that you never cook at the restaurant? Aglio e olio con pomodoro. It's spaghettini with olive oil, garlic, San Marzano tomatoes, crushed red-chile flakes and salt and pepper. When the sauce comes to fruition, it shines and coats the noodles just perfectly, and there's just enough sauce for about two swipes of bread. I know it sounds super-simple, but the flavors are so complex. I love it.