Part two: Denver chefs dish on what they wish would disappear in 2012

Thumbnail image for Justincucci1-thumb-565x423.jpg
Lori Midson
Justin Cucci, chef/owner of Root Down and Linger, wants to see less pork belly, truffles, lamb, bisques, cream, offal, veal, French desserts, truffle oil, bacon, innards, butter, French influences and people jizzing in their pants over charcuterie.
As we've discovered in our weekly Chef and Tell interviews, Denver's kitchen commanders are, if nothing else, unapologetically opinionated. We pepper them with dozens of questions, and sometimes their answers are salty -- especially their responses to what they'd like to see less of in Denver from a culinary perspective. We're recapping those answers below; here's to a new year with "less fucking with flavors in food," less "gringofied" Mexican food and Groupon, and fewer "colon-clogging" steaks, egotistical chefs, burgers, molecular-gastronomy, food trucks, and social networking sites that dump on chefs and restaurants.

The first installment of what our local chefs would like to see disappear from our culinary landscape in 2012 ran yesterday. Here's part two.

What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint:

Theo Adley, The Pinyon

This is where I rant. Being called "America's Foodiest Town" by Bon Appetit was the biggest disservice ever paid to the Boulder/Denver dining scene. It's a laughable title to anyone in the industry for so many reasons. Thankfully, we're a community of responsible diners, which is what I interpret a "foodie" to be. But I think that title has made us complacent. It made everyone feel so fucking comfy. We shop at Whole Foods and call it a day; we buy all the "organic" produce Mexico has to offer because we still want peaches in February; we can buy "local" Colorado trout while ignoring the fact that it's farmed by inmates in Cañon City; and we can buy all the sustainable pork or beef from Whole Foods because they wiped out all the local artisanal butchers. Most people shop at the farmers' market to show off their dogs -- not because they actually want to stock up on food for the week. If we want to be taken seriously in the culinary world, we really need to start being more accountable for the products we purchase. We take this very seriously at the Pinyon, but it's a battle almost every time we need to order food.

Valentino Ujkic, Trattoria Stella

Fewer pizza places. My mile-and-a-half bike ride to Stella's involves dodging pizza places that seem to be spreading faster then a venereal disease from Charlie Sheen. Winning! With seventeen pizza places in one small strip of land, anything different would be good.

Mark Monette, Flagstaff House

Less fast food and more high-quality prepared foods.

Chris Cina, Ghost Plate & Tap

Less "farm-to-table," "farm-to-fork," "farm-to-city," "farm-to-chef" lingo, claims and classifications. Do we really need to advertise something we should already be doing?

Robin Baron, Udi's Pizza Cafe Bar, Udi's Bread Cafes (four locations)

Bad fusion food. I just think that people should really know and understand the basics of one cuisine before they create a menu that melds a bunch of different cuisines.

Jared Brant, Park & Co: I'd like to see fewer chefs and cooks with egos. I feel like there are so many kids coming out of the culinary schools here and expecting to be paid $12 an hour because they think they work hard -- or maybe they're all just lazy stoners. But, seriously, the "Denver Five" name just bothers me. I can name five more, ten more, even 25 more chefs that represent Denver. What's up with just the "Five" when there are so many more chefs who are doing such great things? I really like the chefs who have great restaurants and also eat at -- and support -- other Denver restaurants. Chefs like Jeff Osaka and Lon Symensma are always trying out other people's food and supporting new chefs in the city.

Wayne Conwell, Sushi Sasa

Burger joints and cupcake shops. Don't get me wrong: I love a good burger from HBurger, or a moist, yummy cupcake, but don't we finally have enough?


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
Fran_Chesco
Fran_Chesco

I`d like to see more independant restaurants open around the Metro area, not just Denver Central. Which means less chains! Every area you drive has the same crap every few miles! Chef Fran Walker

It's Jenn again...
It's Jenn again...

C'mon guys--Justin Cucci is funny as hell, and his was my favorite interview of the year.

MJR
MJR

Definitely need some good Mexican food in the Cherry Creek area- though I'll probably always make the drive to La Loma for the best chile rellenos ever... as for burger joints, I'm all for Larkburger blowing up. Let's get the rest of the junk out of the mix! HBurger is just a bit too overrated.

GFTW
GFTW

It's sounding like The Pinyon will probably disappear in 2012.

Davelovelace
Davelovelace

I wish for less chefs to come off as total pricks in these interviews

It's Jenn again...
It's Jenn again...

I've been curious about Justin Cucci's death wish for French style/ingredients since the original story ran--I am interested in knowing why he wishes the death upon those things.

Sharpshooter
Sharpshooter

Robert Bogart, you are my hero! If I hadn't quit running Denver kitchens 10+ years ago because of the shitty wages, crappy bosses, no talent egotistical owners and lack of a future, I'd definitely come and work for you!

It's Jenn again...
It's Jenn again...

Can I getta "AMEN" on the bad Mexican food? Granted, I was spoiled for years eating great Mexican food in New Mexico. That is a magical place in that I could saunter into any high-dollar or low-rent Mexican restaurant and get fantastic food.

Colorado....not so much. The first few places I tried here were disgustingly overpriced, and the quality just wasn't there. Even the carts don't seem to produce tacos worth $1-$2 each.

I content myself with the late-night taco bar at El Diablo.

Mantonat
Mantonat

I want to know why all these chefs keep eating at mediocre Mexican restaurants. There may be plenty of mediocre ones, but there are also plenty of really good ones. If you don't know where the good ones are, ask around. For those of you new to town, here's your first tip: Hacienda Colorado is not a Mexican restaurant.

Steveville
Steveville

Will Cisa, The Corner OfficeI don't see why every menu here has to have sliders on it. They're so overdone, and I've seriously never seen a city with so many menus that have sliders on them. I totally agree with Chef Will. Why chefs, cooks and customers continually call a mini-burger a "slider", I'll never know. If these morons knew what a "slider" really is and how it actualy got its name, either no one would ever order one again, or they'd learn to call it a "mini-burger".

Karen Pittenger
Karen Pittenger

For chicken wings, Marco's Coal Fired Pizza.  Big and baked perfectly, with big petals of delicious onions, spice yourself; for Mexican, the delightfully different El Trompito Taqueria at 1570 W. 70th Ave, and Chili Verde at 3700 Tejon is fine Southern Mexican cuisine.

Sinqua
Sinqua

i work there, it's not likely. you should come in because we rock.

Frenchpressmemos
Frenchpressmemos

Really? That was not my reaction at all. I have had no desire to even try The Pinyon until now- because of those comments. It is all true and the pat on the back and accolades of farm-to-table, organic and sustainable that restaurants give themselves should stop exactly because of what this guy is saying. It is delusional and self-congratulatory without an actual basis. Now- why would they disappear, again?

Andd 1
Andd 1

Theo from the Pinyon and Justin Cucci should get an apartment together. Can you imagine how responsible those two could get with their food sourcing if they combined into one mega douche-force? I can't....I can't even fathom how responsible they could get.

Fran_Chesco
Fran_Chesco

I was eating at a "Mex" joint & asked the food server where she was from, Veracruz, I then asked if this is what they eat there, No. Why is Mex labeled as burrito,taco, etc, like Italian is spaghetti,lasagne,cannoli? There is So much more real food than what we are offered, and regional Mex or Italian.

GFTW
GFTW

Try Casa Bonita.

Mantonat
Mantonat

What are the bad places you've been to?

GFTW
GFTW

What is it?

GFTW
GFTW

Tell us what a slider is then. I goggled and the worst I could find was small burgers that were so greasy they slid around on Navy ships. BFD.

Fran_Chesco
Fran_Chesco

Try the wings  at Moe`s BBQ on Bway!

GFTW
GFTW

Last I checked Yelp and other review sites, The Pinyon's ratings were dive-bombing. And people who've dined there didn't like it, neither the over-rated food or the snotty service. And when I've walked by it, it's usually pretty empty, unlike Frasca down the street. But point taken about sustainability and all that crap, which I don't care about.

It's Jenn again...
It's Jenn again...

I really should visit CB. I've heard there are cliff-divers, and a guy in a gorilla suit. I'm easily entertained.

It's Jenn again...
It's Jenn again...

Let's see--Senor Burritos, El Tajados and El Chapultepec.....I actually haven't been to Casa Bonita yet, but I've been warned that it's not a place to go for the food. I like El Diablo--the mole is a little cinnamon-y but good, the queso fundito is delicious, and the tacos are passably good. They also make a fine margarita, and any sit-down restaurant that will serve my drunk ass tacos at 3 a.m. deserves some love.

Mantonat
Mantonat

You mean you haven't heard the jingle?

GFTW
GFTW

Probably as funky as well!

GFTW
GFTW

Totally. And there's like a roving band, and a scary cave.

GFTW
GFTW

Negatory.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...