Thomas Salamunovich, exec chef of Larkspur (and Larkburger) on farm-to-table fatigue
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: The young greens we grow just outside our kitchen. We have a mesclun mix on the menu at all times during the summer, and right now at Larkspur, we're combining the greens with carrot quinoa, a delicate vinaigrette and a variety of spring vegetables, including artichokes barigoule.
Favorite spice: Tellicherry peppercorns. I cook with them in so many applications, and we sieve a lot of different size grinds to garner consistency. I'm also having fun right now with vadouvan, which isn't really a spice per se, but a slow-cooked mixture of assorted French-Indian spices and aromatics that really add soul and depth to the flavor of a dish.
One food you detest: Anything made without care. It makes me crazy to eat food that was produced without love or commitment. Why do it at all if you can't do it right?
One food you can't live without: So many great items can be made with eggs, which cross over between savory and sweet. I'm in love with aioli, there's nothing so perfect as a simple French omelet, and I love thickening soups with the egg yolk; it adds a great texture on the palate, and it really enriches the soup. The French call that baby Jesus in velvet pants.
Food trend you wish would disappear: I know I'll be maligned for saying this, but I'm so tired of hearing -- and reading -- "farm-to-table" in every conversation and article. Hopefully we all use seasonal ingredients, store them properly, mise en place them properly and finish them à la minute properly. I've been cooking for an extended period of time, and when I was younger, I was blessed to work in great kitchens in San Francisco when farmers first started growing food for restaurants, and we were making dishes with ingredients that had been in the ground that very morning. That was in the early '80s; the "farm-to-table" movement is hardly new.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Andouillette sausage filled with colon and more intestines and offal than one should probably eat in one meal. I didn't enjoy it, nor could I finish it. That's not common for me.
Weirdest customer complaint: A customer chastised us for having garlic in our restaurant. According to him, there's no need for garlic in American food.
Weirdest customer request: When I was at Sweet Basil in Vail, there was a group of extremely wealthy women -- they were decked to the nines -- who called themselves the "Pussy Posse," and they'd came in every Saturday night and make me always prepare potatoes eight ways, all on the same plate, one for each woman in the posse. That's weird.