Mitch Mayers, exec chef of Black Pearl, on Mohawks and Agio
What's never in your kitchen? I will never have an employee who's unwilling to be challenged. This industry demands that you push yourself beyond what you think you're capable of, so I'm not interested in having someone who isn't willing to learn and take criticism in order to improve their skills. And I want to surround myself with people who are going to challenge me and the way I think. I'm only 25 years old, and I want to keep on growing as a chef.
What's always in your kitchen? Country music. I'm pretty sure I've converted most, if not all, of my kitchen staff. Okay, so that's probably not true, but at least they put up with it. I grew up listening to country music, and it's perfect to listen to in the kitchen, although I'm sure most chefs would disagree with my choice of Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: We have an entire list of rules written on the wall in the kitchen. The first two are "Eye of the Tiger" and "Shit on your own time." The first one refers to having a goal and accomplishing it -- kind of like going into battle. And the second one means be ready to kick ass and always take pride in what you're doing. I have a few more, including respect the fucking cheese, don't fuck with my spoons, fear the Mohawk and always watch the demon burner.
What's always lurking in your refrigerator? Half-full containers of Thai food and a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda.
What's next for you? Opening Agio, an Italian restaurant in Baker, is the next big step. Steve and I are extremely excited about having a restaurant in the Baker neighborhood that will be different from Black Pearl but still celebrate our principles of sustainable, local, seasonal. Who knows what happens after that? Maybe another restaurant in Denver.