Ignacio Leon, exec chef of Paxia and Los Carboncitos, on the wild rabbit, helping the homeless and Mexican food

What was the last cookbook you bought, and what recipes are you cooking from it? The English translation is "Tradition and History of Our Mexican Kitchen." It looks like an encyclopedia, and it's been tremendously helpful in helping me to learn about the tradition and history of Mexican food. It's where I got the gorditas de chicharrón prensado dish, which is on the Los Carboncitos menu.

Favorite childhood food memory: I have two: My dad had a really large farm until I was about nine years old, so I grew up learning how to cultivate different types of fruits and vegetables. The experience taught me to appreciate different types of food and, more important, where our food comes from. I also loved the beef stew my mom used to make for my family. My brothers and I acquired our love of cooking from her.

Favorite junk food: Pizza. I can have anything on a pizza except pineapple. I confess that I've never been fond of that flavor combination.

If you hadn't become a chef, what would you be doing right now? I'd be a lawyer or a youth coach. I've always been interested in coaching homeless children, and I think playing sports is a great outlet and distraction. In Mexico, once I started working and making money, I would bring shoes and other supplies to the homeless kids in the neighborhood. It brought them so much joy and it was so gratifying that I always thought helping on a larger scale would've been something I'd be interested in exploring as a career.

Location Info

Los Carboncitos

3757 Pecos St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Paxia - Alta Cocina Mexicana

4001 Tejon St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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i know this is a week or so after the fact, but i don't always read westword online as promptly as i should.  i say that to explain why i think duncan smith of dazzle should bring his"hamdog" to texas...no way it wouldn't be a hit. the unofficial state motto is "if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing" -- which, of course, is why coloradans are skinny and healthy and texans are, well, not so much. still, unless you go to louisiana, you'd be hard-pressed to find a love affair with food as intense as texas' is.

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