Ryan Leinonen, exec chef/owner of Trillium, wants to stage at Le Bernardin
If you weren't a chef, what would you be? A cardiothoracic surgeon, an astrophysicist, or maybe an astronaut.
What's one thing about you or your restaurant that people would be surprised to know? Trillium occupies a space that was a decrepit pawn shop for many years, and the first time I looked at it, I wasn't so sure, but after it we started gutting it, it all came to me -- and came to be, and I was really in love with the location in the Ballpark neighborhood, so I decided to go for it. We demolished the space down to a dirt floor and the walls and then rebuilt it new. We salvaged what we could, like the 108-year-old pine posts and beams, and we refurbished the beautiful brick wall on the north side of the dining room. Our new additions were the five-foot linear fireplace, a "cloud" bar and the open kitchen.
Hardest lesson you've learned: Treat people the way you want to be treated. I worked for some pretty iron-headed, downright mean chefs back in the day, and as a younger cook who hadn't cut his teeth yet, I thought that's how you had to act to be a successful chef. These guys used to throw hot pans, knives, choke cooks out on the line, and take half your paycheck if you burned something. There's something to be said for discipline, but that's not a good way to treat people
What's next for you? Right now I'm focused on all things Trillium: creating a good staff, teaching everything I can to my cooks and looking forward to a busy summer in the Ballpark neighborhood. It's such a great, vibrant area. At some point I might like to do another venture -- who knows? Maybe Denver's first Scandinavian ice bar.
Last meal before you die: Before I die? This assumes I know my death is imminent, in which case, death by foie gras. Consume so much, so rapidly that my heart actually stops and I don't have to face the other death that's coming to me.