Mitch Mayers, exec chef of Black Pearl, on Mohawks and Agio
How do you describe your food? Complex and creative, but simultaneously simple and approachable. I think I take a unique approach to blending cultures and techniques, but ultimately, the ingredients and flavor combinations are easily enjoyable. I'm all about creating the perfect bite: If you get a little of every component of a dish, each forkful should be balanced and delicious.
Ten words to describe you: Sarcastic, driven, stubborn, dedicated, deliberate, hungry, imaginative, smartass, passionate, observant and caring.
What are your ingredient obsessions? Poblano peppers. I love all chiles, but there's something about poblanos that strikes the perfect balance between sweet and spicy. There are just so many vegetal and spicy levels to them. I also incorporate a lot of cumin into my dishes, mostly because it's extremely versatile and goes well with a large variety of ingredients and other spices. I love it because it adds an earthy and warm aroma to a dish.
What are your kitchen-tool obsessions? My blowtorch -- I love fire. It's mostly why I became a chef. I'm pretty sure there's a bit of a pyromaniac in every chef, and I'm no different. I think we use the blowtorch to plate up every single one of our desserts right now. I also love my pasta machine and ice cream maker, which I got for my birthday years ago from my parents. I love ice cream, so giving a kid an ice cream maker was definitely dangerous.
Food trend you wish would go away: It's hard to hate on food trends too much, because usually one or two things that I like come out of every trend. They force chefs to adapt and learn new principles and techniques, whether it's molecular gastronomy or a dish that's gluten-free. But if I had to choose a food trend that I'd like to see disappear, I guess it would have to be cupcakes. I mean, I love cupcakes as much as the next person, but we have more than enough cupcake places to satiate us.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: We're using yak from Grunniens Yak Ranch in Elbert, Colorado. The flavor of their yak is truly spectacular, and while it's not as gamey as buffalo, it still has that great grassy flavor. In my opinion, it's way better than any beef product you can find.
One food you detest: Pickles. I don't think I ever realized how much I hated pickles until my high-school girlfriend sat and ate a whole jar of them...and then tried to kiss me.
One food you can't live without: I love cheese and ice cream, but I could never live without ice cream. I usually want a bowl of it at the end of most days. There's always an ice cream to perfectly fit my mood, although I'm most partial to chocolate chip cookie dough.