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.

Location Info

Black Pearl

1529 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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The only mistake Mitch has made thus far is not going to work under better individuals......  He'd be better eating some humble pie and working in kitchens such as Fruition, Frasca, Mizuna etc not as the chief but as a line cook....  While he's learning important management skills at his present position, the passion is lacking.  If you don't think it is go and eat at Black Pearl one night.  The most telling thing in the interview was that it was his summer externship at a restaurant working under people from Thomas Keller's empire that had him the most fired up....then he had bills to pay and ended up at Hillstone, yawn.    


I don't know Mitch real well, but I've spent some time with him at industry event and I cross paths with him through the normal course of business.  I've found him to be professional, passionate, and funny.  I respect him and his food. 


It strikes me as somewhat sad that a good number of the chefs in the Chef and Tell articles become punching bags for hate driven missives and rants from anonymous posters.  I've traveled to other cities and I haven't found one that exemplifies the philanthropically chef driven culture that we enjoy in Denver.  I applaud the chefs that put it all out there in the interviews - that's part of their DNA - it takes guts and it's why the chefs have been so successful growing our food culture in Denver. 


Why are some of these Westword readers so hateful?  Can't blame the cost of the Westword.  Time to stop the cheap shots!  


I worked with Mitch at the ccg and there is no one harder working or more dedicated than him. The kid works his ass off every day to do a job and am guessing that was the same in school. He is definitely not entitled and has earned everything he has done


I've only interacted with him once, but I thought he was nice and extremely helpful. I don't get all the hate.

ScubaSteve topcommenter

Is this kitchen dude for real?  Insisting that his folks send him to Cornell AND cooking school?  Is this the height of greed , spolied brattiness and immaturity, or what?  He's only 25 years old and has a long way to go in real life. Grow up, dude.


shut up man, what have you accomplished?

LoriMidsonCafeSociety moderator editor

 @steveville No, not quite. It was his parents -- not him -- who insisted on Cornell. He agreed to go on the condition that he could also go to culinary school, because, you know, that was the career he wanted to pursue.

Mantonat topcommenter

 @steveville Last time I checked, you still have to get accepted into Cornell and the CIA. If he's willing to put in the work to be successful at both, and if his family can afford it, how does that make him greedy, bratty, or immature? Not everybody can have a rags to riches story to warm our hearts. Sometimes people with money can also be smart and hard-working.

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