Round two with Patrick Horvat, exec chef of Venue
This is part two of my interview. Part one of my interview with Patrick Horvat ran in this space yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: Marotta's, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. It was where I got my start in the business, and it if weren't for the owners of that place, I probably wouldn't have made it in the business. They taught me a lot and gave me tough love when I needed it.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant: Il Posto. Owner and chef Andrea Frizzi and his staff do a great job. I worked there for about a year and a half and learned a lot about food and cooking, and every time I go back to hang out or eat, they always treat me like family -- and that means a lot. It's nice to go back to a former kitchen and still feel all the love, and those guys are just killing it when it comes to food.
Last restaurant you visited: Izakaya Den, with my wife, a few weeks ago. It was awesome. We'll go back, for sure.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Year-round multi-vendor markets. I grew up in Cleveland, where we have the West Side Market, a culinary mecca that's a hodgepodge of traditional old-world European delicacies ranging from sausages and homemade mustards to pastries and baked goods to seasonal veggies from local farmers. It's only open a few days a week, which adds to its appeal and makes it that much more special when you get to go. I think the farmers' markets here in Denver are awesome -- for the three or four months that we have them -- but something a little more permanent with a lot more vendors would be awesome. If you ever make it to Cleveland, I suggest you check out the West Side Market. It's amazing, and I miss it.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Crappy Mexican food joints. That response is common, I know, but I have to agree. Some of the Mexican places we have here are just awful. Endless chips and three different salsas doesn't mean your food is good, and it's frustrating because I've worked with Mexican guys who bring in food that their wives or girlfriends make, and it's unreal, so I know the culinary talent and traditions are out there -- but for some reason, that talent and those traditions don't seem to make it to the restaurants. Also: What's up with the $1.35/scoop Asian places? That irks me as well.
Which Denver/Boulder chef do you most respect? Any chef who can keep a restaurant going in this economy is pretty bad-ass, in my book. With all of the coupons and daily deals going on out there, it's surprising that we still have so many great chefs and restaurants, with more restaurants opening all the time.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? Jorel Pierce and the boys at Euclid Hall. I've known Jorel for a while now -- we play a good amount of disc golf together -- and I really think the food they're doing is legit and honest. I dig the open kitchen and respect the amount of product those guys crank out every night, always under the watchful eye of the guests. There's no room for error when you're putting on a show like that, plus he's just a cool dude with a wealth of food knowledge -- and the food is stuff I like to eat. It'd be fun to rage it on the line there.