The Trinity Grille's Patrick Canfield goes after gluten-free diets and admits he doesn't give a rat's ass about reviews
Most of us have scrubbed a few pots and scraped a few plates, but if you eat dinner every night at home, along with your parents and eight brothers and sisters, it's highly probable that the job of dish duty ranks right up there with picking up poodle poop. But Patrick Canfield is a dishwashing master -- in part, he says, because he was frequently late to the dinner table. "We were a clan of nine kids, and we met at the dinner table every day at 8 a.m., noon and 6 p.m., and if you were late, my mother, who didn't believe in not feeding her kids as punishment, instead made you do all the dishes for eleven people, which took...shit, three hours. I was always late, especially during baseball season," he confesses.
But Canfield, who's been cooking behind the burners of the Trinity Grille for ten years, started on his culinary path early, working in restaurants throughout high school. "If I wasn't in the kitchen at home helping my mom, who was the best cook in the world, I was cooking in restaurants to make extra money, because when you come from a family of nine kids, you don't get an allowance," he deadpans.
Money, however, wasn't the only motivator. "I really liked being in the kitchen; I learned a lot and I was good at it," he says. And he got good tips, too, at least while doing time as a short-order graveyard-shift cook at the Waffle House, his first job in Denver after moving here from Detroit the day after he graduated from high school. "I loved it, and I got great tips, because they were largely based on theatrics, and I could juggle eggs like nobody's business -- and the customers, no pun intended, would egg me on," Canfield remembers.
He switched that juggling act for another one at the long-gone Writer's Manor hotel, where he did it all -- the a.m. line, banquets, the night shift and manning the coffee shop. But he left because the "chef didn't know a damn thing," he says. "The chef had a whole box of kitchen tools, one of which was a truffle slicer, and he didn't even know what it was, much less how to use it, and since I'd tapped the minds of all the sous chefs -- and there was nothing more to learn from the chef -- I took off to do something else."