Round two with Josh Barhaug, exec chef of Fired Up

Lori Midson

Josh Barhaug
Fired Up
1135 Bannock Street

Part one of my chef interview with Josh Barhaug, who mans the line -- and pizza oven -- at Fired Up, ran yesterday; this is part two of our chat.

What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: People coming together, trying new things and putting Denver on the map as more of a foodie destination. We all need to work together to achieve this; we all need to be on common ground. Stop all the bullshitting, so food warriors like Anthony Bourdain don't think we're a joke when it comes to food. I mean, effin' Minneapolis beats us out as a better food destination. What more can I say? Love you, Minnesota. But -- really?

What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I know a lot of people say steakhouses, but I'm a sucker for steakhouses. They remind me of my childhood, and who doesn't love an amazing steak? But to answer the question...the obvious vegetarian -- but just the bad ones should go.

Most memorable meal you've ever had: There are several, but the one that stands out the most is when my wife and I had a sixteen-course tasting menu at Joël Robuchon. Everything was just so beautiful and amazing. While you're eating, they push around the most amazing bread cart you've ever seen, which is awesome, but it doesn't help when you have the choice of bacon-infused bread along with so many other amazing choices -- plus a dozen more courses wonderfully awaiting your pleasure. By the time you've totally gorged and start patting yourself on the back because you're so proud of yourself for eating all sixteen courses, they come around with a dessert cart full of housemade truffles and candies and, really, just about everything else you can imagine. And for whatever crazy reason, you keep piling it in like you have a cow's stomach. I didn't know how to say "Please, stop" or "No more." Then again, I really didn't want to.

Favorite childhood food memory: When my whole family is around the dinner table. It hasn't happened in a while. That was great, though, and I was glad to have great experiences like that growing up -- the eating and drinking, and everybody getting along for the most part. I wasn't drinking besides a little bit of peppermint schnapps in my milk to put me to sleep. Different times.

Favorite dish on your menu: Our veal sweetbreads done Buffalo style over celery-root purée, and our Coloradan pizza topped with braised Colorado lamb shoulder, Haystack Mountain goat cheese and wood-fired roasted tomatoes finished with unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil.

Biggest menu bomb: It might be my Seoul pizza with kimchi and marinated short ribs. You either love it or hate it. I wouldn't say it bombed...but I would call it the bomb. Sorry, I had to say that.

Location Info

Fired Up

1135 Bannock St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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ScubaSteve topcommenter

I enjoyed this interview.  I will visit Chef Josh's restaurant.

Mantonat topcommenter

I'll give the guy the benefit of the doubt until I taste the food, but I have a basic distrust of someone who's in charge of coming up with the best possible flavors but who's idea of good flavor is PBR or Coors. I get the idea of being a regular, down-to-earth guy who isn't to pretentious about his choices, but I think it's possible to like good beer without being pretentious.


That said, I will gladly try your kimchi and short-rib pizza, as long as it doesn't have cheese on it. The idea of getting mozzarella and fermented cabbage in the same bite is enough to put me off my lunch.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

Pretty whacky interview but I have to say he's right about his sweetbreads - best thing I've eaten in a restaurant this year.  Need to get back and explore the menu a little more.

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