Bentley Folse, exec chef of Finley's Pub, gives good cluck
This is part one of my interview with Bentley Folse, exec chef of Finley's Pub. Part two of our chat will run tomorrow.
I suppose my parents liked the car," muses Bentley Folse, whose first name conjures images of a wealthy frat boy who scoots around in, well, a Bentley. "Yeah, whenever people meet me, they think I'm that rich kid," he says, pointing out that the assumption couldn't be further from reality. "My parents may have named me Bentley, but they had an old Ford F-150 that leaked oil all the time. I ain't rich, honey."
But he can cook, which is what he told the guy at a Boulder coffee shop who berated him for his regal name. "I was wearing a collared shirt, and apparently the guy heard me say my name, because the dude totally went off on me, and I was all, 'Look, I'm a line cook, and I work at country clubs -- I'm not a country-club member,'" recalls Folse, who admits that he once tried to "hit on a girl" named Bentley, which "didn't pan out so well."
Despite a few obstacles along the way, his professional cooking career did. He started his time on the line in Louisiana, his home state, and later attended the Culinary Institute of Louisiana, graduating and moving on "to cooking at real restaurants in Baton Rouge," private cheffing and catering. "I've always had a love/hate relationship with being a chef, so I took a few breaks from the restaurant kitchen in my career to cater and cook for families, but cooking is what I do best, and I keep getting sucked back into the industry," he says, adding that when he was going through his "hate" phases, he'd take time-outs to work at bike shops to feed his passion for extreme cycling and dirt-bike jumping.
He got his first taste of Colorado on a snowboarding trip to Steamboat Springs, which included a side jaunt to Boulder. "I was in a cramped Honda Civic with four friends, but I didn't care, because as soon as we got to Boulder, I fell in love with it -- with the atmosphere, the lifestyle, the people, everything," remembers Folse, who eventually moved to Denver after leaving a job as the executive chef of a start-up country club in Baton Rouge.
"I got to Denver and pounded the 16th Street Mall until I got a reasonable call-back for the sous-chef gig at Willie G's," says Folse, admitting that the "whole corporate thing wasn't really my style." He later worked at the Denver Country Club and at Papillon, sharing the burners with Radek Cerny, now the chef-owner of L'Atelier in Boulder. "It was getting all these awards for best restaurant, and I really liked what Radek was doing -- except for the potato baskets -- and I really enjoyed it until I got to work one day and there were two notes on the door, one in English and one in Spanish, that said something like 'We are closed,'" he recalls.