Darrel Truett, exec chef of Barolo Grill, on bacon everything, truffles and "Insalata 21, 31, 41, 51"
This is part one of my interview with Darrel Truett, exec chef of Barolo Grill. Part two of our chat will run tomorrow.
Darrel Truett has spent the entire morning on the horn, negotiating the price of black truffles. They've suddenly jumped from $400 a pound to $1,400 a pound, or so says his wishy-washy purveyor, a guy that Truett now believes is gouging him. He eventually finagles a decent price from another purveyor, though, and moves on to sourcing veal cheeks, which will be part of his menu during truffle week at Barolo Grill, where Truett is the executive chef.
Working for Blair Taylor, who owns Barolo Grill, has its perks, and Truett, who's been cooking in that kitchen for eight years, admits that he has what many would consider one of the most enviable chef gigs in town -- one that gives him the opportunity to play with truffles and travel to Italy once a year on culinary research missions, where he gets to eat at Michelin-starred restaurants and drink expensive bottles of Barolo wines. "I feel like the luckiest person in the world," says Truett, who began his cooking career at fifteen at a steakhouse in Greeley, where he spent the majority of his childhood.
"I started out washing dishes, but I always kept my eye on the line, and eventually I was promoted to pantry. From there, I moved up pretty quickly, eventually becoming the head cook," recalls Truett, noting that he stayed at the beef barn for seven years. "I loved the environment -- cooking isn't your typical job -- and I was having a great time and learning a lot in the process."
And he was working for an owner who not only recognized his talent but strongly encouraged him to refine it. "He thought I was pretty good at cooking -- that the kitchen was running smoothly with me in charge -- so he suggested I go to culinary school," remembers Truett, who agreed and became one of the first students to graduate from the Denver campus of Johnson & Wales, completing a one-year accelerated program in culinary arts.
Truett had the opportunity, too, to do an externship at Charles Court, one of the many restaurants at the Broadmoor, and it was during his time there that he began to fully grasp what could lie ahead. "While I was in that kitchen, I really started to see all the possibilities of what I could do with my future," he says. "I was working with awesome ingredients and a staff that created beautiful presentations, and I knew that I wanted to continue working in a restaurant that provided that kind of attention to detail."