Hunter Pritchett, exec chef of Luca d'Italia, on bum piss and fried fish
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: I got a cold call last spring from a dude named Aaron, from Montrose, and he made me a bet that his Marai sweet corn would be the sweetest, best corn I'd ever tasted. He brought me a dozen ears, and, holy shit, it was definitely the best corn I've ever had. I instantly turned eight again...eating fresh corn out of my grandparents' garden in southwest Virginia. It's organic, totally edible raw, has a higher sugar content than a Palisade peach, giant kernels, and it's bright yellow -- just amazing. I get it the day they pick it, and I'm counting down the days until it's available; it usually ripens before the Fourth of July. They have a stand at the Mile High Marketplace in the summer, and you'll see it on my menus, for sure.
Favorite spice: When it's cold, I go on a juniper berry kick. It's got such a complex flavor to it: effervescent, citrusy, crisp and clear, like a cold winter day. It's great with game meats, and at Luca, I roast green leek tops, which turn to ash, pulverize juniper berries into it, and then dust our venison loin with it. It's a great contrast to the gamey richness of the meat, and it really makes it different and special. It's also one of the few things that can be foraged in Colorado. I can't pass a tree without grabbing a handful, and anything that's made with gin has to be good.
One food you detest: I fucking hate canned water chestnuts. I'll truly eat anything, but a bleached-white, waterlogged, half-crispy, tasteless sliver that tastes like the can it came in has zero appeal to me.
One food you can't live without: Cheese. It's the fat man's candy.
What's never in your kitchen? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There's a great story behind this one. I had a culinary-school intern who was a week from finishing her tenure here, but she started to slip in her quality of work, so we made her do family meal, and she tried to pull off Dollar Store-quality peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Actually, they were much worse than Dollar Store peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What's always in your kitchen? Sharp knives, sharp minds and spicy green hot sauce.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Be nice, and make it perfect.