Pete Marczyk, chef-owner of Marczyk Fine Foods, sounds off on why food regulation makes him want to throw his baguette
Most underrated ingredient: Olive oil. Taste some really good olive oil, then tell me how often you get that same taste when you're at home or at restaurants. I think people generally, and unfortunately, cheap out on olive oil, but when you buy good olive oil, it's such a big bang for the buck, and it's a simple upgrade from the crap -- only pennies per portion. If you look at olive oil like you look at wine, you get it. I've heard that there's a product available which is 80/20 canola oil blended with some kind of olive oil. This is anathema to me. Buy good olive oil and use it liberally.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: I have two: fresh porcini mushrooms that I pick somewhere west of I-25 -- my specific spots are secret -- and anything grown by Elaine Granata, our local culinary superstar at Marczyk Fine Foods.
Favorite spice: I like cloves with boldly spiced carne asada and pork dishes, but a little goes a long way. Cloves are one of those spices that you can taste just a little, but still make you say, "What is that?" Bay, too, but that's a leaf that qualifies as an herb. Still, the same advice applies.
One food you detest: Breakfast for dinner; it makes me feel unfortunate, and it's just wrong. Plus, cereal and wine do not pair well.
One food you can't live without: Speck, prosciutto, guanciale, country-style ribs, bacon, ham, lard...porchetta -- wait, I know! Pork! You can do so much with pork; it's so versatile, and I'd be lost in the kitchen without it. At the markets, we use exclusively non-confinement fresh pork for all of our recipes. Taste our green chile and you'll get it.
Food trend you wish would disappear: The idea that it's okay to feed kids different food from what adults eat, which isn't a new trend, but it keeps growing. I'm appalled by the fake processed food kids eat at home in the name of convenience and mood management. Take the time to feed kids real food and eat good-quality, real wholesome food at mealtimes. Think about what you're teaching your kids by feeding them that "special" kid food with the cartoon characters on the tube. If anything, our kids should be eating better food than adults. Look at the stats on Type 2 diabetes -- almost totally environmental and totally avoidable. If you aren't outraged, then you aren't paying attention.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: We -- and the world -- need more neighborhood markets. I got into this business ten years ago because I was distressed by the homogenization of our ingredient choices. We're still fighting to create better local supply chains and bring better quality to our neighborhoods, but it's still way cheaper to buy mesclun that's grown, washed, packed, labeled, shipped, warehoused and re-shipped from California than it is to buy it in bulk from a farm in Brighton. We've got to get this sorted out. Charging $8 a gallon for gas would solve that.