Aloft's JP Krause on why Casa Bonita rules
This is part one of my interview with JP Krause, exec chef of Aloft Broomfield. Part two of our interview will run in this space tomorrow.
"Right. My name. It's John Patrick, but ever since high school, I've gone by JP, because there are just way too many damn Johns in the world, and every time I'd go to the grocery store, I'd hear someone yell my name and a billion people would turn around. That doesn't happen so much anymore," says JP Krause, executive chef at the Aloft Hotel in Broomfield, where he oversees everything from banquets to the bar menu in the swanky lounge.
But before he named himself JP, he was growing up in Aurora, hanging out in restaurants just about every night with his parents and grandparents. "We didn't have a lot of home-cooked meals in my house -- I don't have any 'My grandma cooked that!' stories -- but the family would get together all the time at restaurants, and I always felt like I'd been transported to another world," remembers Krause, who admits his grandmother still wants to take him to White Fence Farm every year for his birthday. "We didn't eat at the fanciest restaurants, but we went to an awful lot of places, and many of them, like White Fence Farm and Dino's, an old-fashioned Italian restaurant on Colfax, are still family traditions for us."
And so is pizza, which is what lured Krause into the restaurant business. He was fifteen and started scrubbing dishes at an Armando's Pizza in Aurora, but in a matter of weeks he'd been given a solid promotion...to dough-slinger, which had its perks. "Not only did I love to cook and eat pizza, but there was this little window cut-out that allowed people to look in and see me show off my pizza-tossing skills, and I always kinda looked forward to that," admits Krause, who still stuffs his piehole on a regular basis with Chicago deep-dish.
After graduating from Regis High School, Krause hightailed it to San Diego, where he enrolled in a continuing-education culinary program that allowed him to attend classes and apprentice alongside chefs who showed him the ropes. "It wasn't a full-blown culinary school, but I learned a tremendous amount," recalls Krause, adding that it was enough to secure his first job in fine dining at a hotel restaurant in Pebble Beach, where he bounced around every station. "They called it a junior sous-chef job, which is just another name for slave," he jokes, "but the chef wanted to teach me everything, and I wanted to learn as much as I could, and by the time I left, I had really fallen in love with cooking."