Aloft's JP Krause on why Casa Bonita rules
Favorite local ingredient: Grandpa's Gourmet white honey, which you can find at some farmers' markets or online. I worked with the founders during the Feast in the Field event for Douglas County Schools, and not only is the staff friendly, but the white honey is amazing. It's almost the consistency of peanut butter, so when you spread it on your toast, your mouth just melts with the honey.
Favorite spice: Old Bay seasoning. I know everyone uses it for crab cakes, but it's just as good on pita chips, chicken and fried sweet potatoes.
One food you detest: I've never liked the taste of ginger. I know it's good for you, but if even the smallest amount of ginger is in a dish, it's the first thing I taste. I'll eat foods with ginger, but I'd rather not.
One food you can't live without: I couldn't live without Colorado peaches. I've had peaches from all over, and I can definitely say that we have the sweetest and juiciest peaches in the country. I love the fact that when you eat a ripe Colorado peach, you need to change your shirt because of how much you dribble. I also like to think of them when I describe myself: Colorado native, sweet and really compatible.
Food trend you wish would disappear: I'm so tired of hearing about cupcakes -- the shows, the small shops, the mall stands, you name it. I tip my hat to the 5 percent of cupcakes that have amazed me, but they mostly have too much frosting, the designs aren't that special, and they aren't healthy. I've done some volunteer work with the Chefs Move! to School program, and two of the big focuses are childhood obesity and childhood diabetes. As a society, we should be more conscious of the food trends we teach our children.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: You have to have passion. Cooking is like a wonderful wife -- and let me add that Monika, my wife, is amazing -- but you can't teach passion, just like you can't teach love, and that's why they're intertwined. You need to be excited to be in my kitchen and really want to spend time together. I tell people that it's hard to keep that passion going when you do the same thing every day, like washing dishes or plating the same dish 500 times, but that's where the love is. You need to live life and bring everything you've learned to your food. If you're not happy, I guarantee that your food will flat-out taste gross, but when you ooze love and you season your food well, you just want to share that passion with the world.
What's never in your kitchen? Brown-gravy mix and garlic-butter spray. Why does a gravy mix have to have over ten ingredients when it's so simple to take drippings, butter, flour and seasoning and make your own? As for the garlic-butter spray, I saw a school lunch lady take a baguette, cut it in half and spray it with the stuff until the grease dripped off the sides -- and that's what she used for garlic bread. That's when all you can say is, "Really?"
What's always in your kitchen? Maggi seasoning, which is similar to soy sauce but much different in flavor. It's amazing in chicken soup, on breaded pork or with potatoes. I also never go without a timer. Considering all the unexpected things that pop up while you're on the job, it's easy to forget about the pecans toasting in the back oven, so it never hurts to have something in place to remind yourself.