Beau Simmons, exec chef of Jonesy's, on McNuggets, orgasms and bad-ass steel
This is part one of my interview with Beau Simmons, exec chef of Jonesy's EatBar. You can read part two of our chat tomorrow.
Beau Simmons stretches out in his garden, his face tickled by the leaves of his heirloom-tomato plants. He has 56 vegetable and herb plants sprouting in the back yard of Leigh Jones, the namesake and owner of Jonesy's EatBar, where Simmons is the executive chef. That's a job that's a long way from where his culinary career began. "I started washing blenders at a smoothie shop in Arvada when I was seventeen," recalls Simmons, "and I did a kickass job, so they promoted me to a manager position." He held that until the bagel shop next door wooed him away: "I was eighteen and they wanted to me to run it, plus they were giving me a thirty-cent raise. How could I refuse?"
He stuck around for a year before becoming the "dough boy" at a now-closed Old Chicago in Wheat Ridge, where he designed a dough dungeon, complete "with little rubber skeletons hanging from the ceiling." He played on the Hobart mixer, too, he recalls, "riding it like a mechanical bull." Between diversions, he opened three more Old Chicago stores, "teaching people to make dough the Old Chicago way."
But that wasn't Simmons's dream gig. "After flipping dough all fucking night, I wanted something different, and I was interested in working at a fine-dining restaurant," he says. He landed at Appaloosa Grill -- a mistake, he soon discovered: "The chef and I hated each other, and one night after prepping, cooking, cleaning and closing down the kitchen, I walked out the door, knowing that I'd never walk back in."
Over the next several years he worked in kitchens that were a vast improvement, including that of 240 Union, where he cooked alongside Matthew Franklin, now the exec chef/owner of Farro, an Italian restaurant in Centennial. "I remember asking him if I should go to culinary school, and he told me that I could take all the money that he was giving to me and give it to someone else, or that he could teach me what he knew and I could keep the money that he was giving to me, so I looked at him and said I'd take the bet," recollects Simmons, whose gamble paid off: He stayed at 240 Union for nearly five years, exiting, he says, "only because I wanted to be a sous chef and there wasn't much turnover there."