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