Round two with Rob Lawler of the Truffle
This is part two of my interview with Rob Lawler, former chef and the sovereign of cheese at the Truffle. Part one of my chat with Lawler ran yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: I really don't travel much anymore, and certainly not enough to say with any real authority what my favorite restaurant in the country is.
Last restaurant you visited: My parents were in town for Thanksgiving and we went to El Diablo. It was great.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: All the good restaurants are our customers, so it's like asking me who my favorite child is. They're all special in their own way, but when it comes to Vietnamese food, I really love New Saigon. It's always good, I can go there with the kids and no one cares, and it reminds me of the Vietnamese food in San Francisco. Karin is a creature of habit, so we always have to get the Dungeness crab, but they also have phenomenal hot pots. We pig out there.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I think we're doing really well, and it always annoys me when people rant on not having a good Micronesian restaurant or whatever. These people aren't happy with anything, and most likely couldn't cook their way out of a paper bag, even if someone gave them a hot pan and a sharp knife. There are so many innovative and exciting restaurants here, and it's great to see Denver chefs doing their own thing, showing their style and accentuating Colorado produce. It really is a very exciting time in Denver. Still, I'd like to see more independently owned markets, butcher shops, produce markets, cheese shops, bakeries and patisseries -- places that do only one thing and do it really, really well.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Steakhouses. I love a good steak, but why do crowds insist on spending $45 on a ridiculously huge colon-clogging, suffered-in-a-feedlot, corn-fed steak but balk at $30 for a perfectly composed plate of fish or a well-thought-out series of tapas?
Which chef in Denver/Boulder do you most respect? They're all customers of mine, and I love them all, but I will say that neither John Platt, from Q's and Riff's in Boulder, nor Teri Rippeto at Potager get as much recognition as they deserve. The two of them use more local produce than half of the other chefs giving it lip service combined.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? I'd like to cook in the White House, at the Nobel Peace Prize dinner, or for the Pope or some other prestigious occasion, if for no other reason than to have the the bragging rights.
Favorite celebrity chef: Rokusaburo Michiba, the bad-ass Japanese chef from Iron Chef Japan. That man is a bad motherfucker.