Adam Watts, chef de cuisine of Jax Boulder, on brotherhood, fat and the baggie of weed
All three Jax outposts -- one opened in Fort Collins last year -- are part of the Big Red F empire, which also includes West End Tavern, Lola, Zolo Grill and Centro. Watts says he "loves the people, the freedom and the opportunities" that Big Red F owner Dave Query gives his staff. "I've learned a whole helluva lot since I've been here." In the following interview, Watts weighs in on the guest who asked for a bag of weed with his breakfast, reveals his pet peeves (the roster is lengthy), and explains why home cooks should "Google it."
Six words to describe your food: Simple, classic, honest, rustic, approachable and clean.
Ten words to describe you: Passionate, father, loyal, trustworthy, independent, thoughtful, present, traditional, resourceful and open-minded.
What are your ingredient obsessions? Colorado fruits. We have such a short window of opportunity here because of our sensitive climates, but I really look forward to our fruits every season. Strawberries, cherries, apricots, pears, gooseberries, peaches and apples are always on my radar at the farmers' market. And right now, Palisade apricots are out of this world.
What are your kitchen-tool obsessions? Shark Freestyle classic watches, a Thai mortar and pestle and Grey Kunz spoons. I never use tongs unless I'm plating something finicky; I prefer to work a station with just my spoons, and always have them on me. My mortar and pestle is perfect for making olive oil-based sauces and grinding curries, pistous and even spices. It's in constant use. As for the watch, I use the timer religiously. I'm always timing something that's cooking at the other end of the restaurant, and I can never stay in one place. It ensures that I never overcook or burn anything. Then again, I should never ever say never. Oh, and I can scrub it clean after dealing with seafood all day.
Most underrated ingredient: Anchovies. I love them in sauce bases, pasta, croutons, plain, fresh, cured, grilled, on pizza...the list goes on.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Bob Munson's heirloom pumpkins. Each year I buy one full ton of pumpkins (he weighs them on a semi-truck scale) that I use on my menu for basically the whole winter. They have great longevity if cellared correctly, and the varieties are super fun. Blue hubbards are my favorite, by far. The best part is that you can get them at his farm stand out on East Valmont Road during the entirety of the fall season and into early winter.
Favorite spice: Smoked paprika adds a certain depth and body to a dish that regular ground paprikas can't. I use it in sauces, broths, marinades and in our sausages.