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.

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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