Mitch Mayers, exec chef of Black Pearl, on Mohawks and Agio

Most memorable meal you've ever had: When I was twelve, I was in Florence and went to a tiny, family-run restaurant that was recommended to us by a local. The food and ambience were spectacular, and it felt like we were in someone's home. I ate gnocchi for the first time with a Gorgonzola cream sauce with pine nuts and peppers. I remember thinking how simple yet truly outstanding it was. From that point forward, gnocchi has been one of my favorite things to eat and cook.

Favorite childhood food memory: My brother and I used to pull up highchairs from our kitchen island on either side of the stove while my grandmother cooked pancakes. As we sat and watched her cook, she'd alternate between the two of us, giving us steaming hot pancakes absolutely smothered in butter to eat while she cooked.

Favorite junk food: I really love Cheetos and cookies, plus pretty much anything that's fried.

Favorite dish on your menu: Hickory-smoked duck breast. It's served with cumin-perfumed potatoes, sautéed watercress, harissa sauce and quince jam. To me, it's the perfect balance of smoky, sweet, savory and spicy.

Biggest menu bomb: This wasn't on a menu, but when I was young and first getting into cooking, I wanted to prove that you could eat healthy and still make it taste good. Turns out that making a low-fat Alfredo sauce is not the way to go about that. I ended up using about every spice I could think of to try and make it taste good, and it was still disgusting.

Weirdest customer request: While I was cooking in a restaurant in New York, we had a wild king salmon on our menu, and I had a customer request that we smother it in ketchup and bake it in the oven. I'm almost always willing to do whatever I can to make the customer happy, but there was no way I could destroy this beautiful piece of fish with ketchup, so I told the customer we would just simply grill it and they could slather on the ketchup once it got to the table.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: A 100-year-old egg, straight up, in China. The flavor wasn't bad, but the texture was beyond gross.

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Black Pearl

1529 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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9 comments
ml13
ml13

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.    

Derek
Derek

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!  

Hiker2475
Hiker2475

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

cherreturns
cherreturns

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

ScubaSteve
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.

closeyerface
closeyerface

shut up man, what have you accomplished?

LoriMidsonCafeSociety
LoriMidsonCafeSociety moderator editortopcommenter

 @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
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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