Joe Freemond, exec chef of the Cellar Wine Bar, on fresh blood and Denver in a nutshell
Most underrated ingredient: Champagne vinegar. There are many ways to add that little acidic pop that most dishes need, but I really love what champagne vinegar can do. I have a huge array of vinegars that I use, along with the equally underrated lemon juice, but my go-to acid component is usually champagne vinegar. It provides a nice mellow acid, like white vinegar or rice vinegar, but with a really clean flavor that works well with almost anything. I like it because it adds a good flavor without being too assertive.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: I really love the guancie baciate from Il Mondo Vecchio. My time working there really spoiled me, because my refrigerator was always stocked with tons of sausage and salumi, and I always had some guancie to cook with. At this point, I almost never cook with any other type of porky bacon-like product. The guancie is totally essential to many of my absolute favorite pasta dishes, and I can't get enough of the stuff; I even save all of my guancie fat so I can cook with it.
Favorite spice: Coriander. I absolutely love the way it smells when it's roasted whole, and I find myself using it in all sorts of different applications. It's wonderful for pickling, making broths, or adding a slight citrus note to grilled lamb or fish, and I also like using it in desserts for a nice savory contrast.
Food trend you wish would go away: I wish people would get over cupcakes and sliders. I find it utterly ridiculous that people are gladly paying upwards of five dollars for a cupcake; it makes no sense to me. I also think that the whole slider craze has simply gone on for far too long, and I'm sick of seeing sliders on menus all over town. If you want to eat three little burgers, why don't you just order one whole burger instead?
One food you detest: I can't stand marzipan or anything that contains almond extract or flavoring. I love whole almonds, roasted almonds, candied almonds, almonds in almost any other form, but almond extract makes me cringe.
One food you can't live without: I don't think I could ever live without noodles -- and I mean noodles of any kind or variety: ramen, pasta, dumplings, ravioli and everything in between. I also can't live without spicy foods or hot sauce. If I'm sweating, my nose is running and my face is flushed, I'm usually pretty damn happy about whatever it is that I'm eating.
What's never in your kitchen? People who aren't 100 percent dedicated to excellence at all costs and who aren't willing to work together as a cohesive unit.