Adam Watts, chef de cuisine of Jax Boulder, on brotherhood, fat and the baggie of weed
Favorite childhood food memory: My dad had an old Chris Craft fishing boat that we'd take out on Lake Michigan to day-fish for lake trout and whitefish. We'd get home after dark, but he'd always clean the fish and cook it as soon as he walked in the door. He dusted it in salt, pepper and all-purpose flour, fried it in butter and oil, squeezed it with fresh lemon and served it on a paper plate. I loved it.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: Los Caracoles -- "The Snails" -- in Barcelona, Spain. My wife and I ate there three nights in a row. It's classic Catalan cuisine, but it's the ambience that really makes it. You have to enter by walking through a kitchen that dates back to 1835, and it's super hot, and everyone is cooking on these wood-burning planchas. There are cured hams hanging from every inch of the ceiling, and the food is out of this world. Fresh snails, sardines, paella and crema catalona...yum.
Favorite restaurant in America: The Marshall Store in Tomales Bay, California. It's basically an oyster shack on the bay that sells its own oysters from the Tomales Bay Oyster Company down the road. You just sit out on the patio eating super-fresh oysters, cold beer in tow, and watch the sailboats whiz by.
What's your dream restaurant? Tapawingo -- it's Native American for "place of peace or joy" -- in Ellsworth, Michigan, was basically the French Laundry of Northern Michigan. It was hyper-seasonal, locally focused, chef-driven and a true destination restaurant. There was a talent pool of chefs and cooks picked from the finest restaurants around the country, and it had the heart and soul with all the fine touches. I'd love a destination restaurant with property for farming and the like. I just gotta keep playing my cards right, and maybe someday I'll have my own Tapawingo.
What do you have in the pipeline? My wife, Sarah, and I are proud new parents. Opal, our daughter, just turned six months old, so we've been totally consumed with her. She's wild, wonderful and crazy. I'm also really excited about staging in some cool restaurants; one of my perks/requirements as a chef at Jax is a mandatory push for continued education. Last year, I worked in three separate three-star Michelin restaurants, and this year was a no-holds-barred trip with all the Jax chefs down to New Orleans. Soon, I'd like to check out our own oyster beds, where Jax's Emersum oysters are grown by the Rappahannock River Oyster Company in Virginia; I want to spend a few days seeing the whole process, and it'd be cool to toss in some sightseeing days in between.