Round two with David Payne, executive chef of Jelly

Lori Midson

David Payne
Jelly Cafe
600 East 13th Avenue, 303-831-6301
1700 East Evans Avenue, 720-596-4108

This is part two of my interview with David Payne, executive chef of Jelly; part two of our interview ran yesterday.

Favorite dish on your menu: I love our French toast with freshly grated nutmeg, orange zest and a secret liquor: The combination makes it divine to eat. We strive to make it more of a custard than just a piece of bread quickly dipped in eggs and milk and browned on the outside. The texture, when it's prepared right, is so, so, so good.

See also:
- David Payne, exec chef of Jelly, on losing your authority, Rick Bayless and gross sticky goo
- Exclusive first look: Jelly Cafe is now open in the DU neighborhood
- Jelly's breakfast is worth waiting for among hungover hipsters

Biggest menu bomb: I did a traditional ahi tuna salad, but I did it in the wrong restaurant and ended up 86'ing it from the menu permanently.

What's never in your kitchen? Red Tabasco sauce. My dad use to cover all of his food with that nasty, odorous, toxic juice at the dinner table, and despite how hard I'd plug my nose, it seemed to work its way in and make my eyes water. I always use sriracha instead.

What's always in your kitchen? Smoky spices -- paprika, pepper or anything else I can get my hands on. I love being able to impart that flavor indoors during these extended cold days when I can't -- or I'm just too much of a wuss to -- get outside and grill. The flavor makes me close my eyes, tilt my head up slightly and grin as I let the flavor marinate my tongue.

Favorite cheap eat in Denver: China Star, on Colfax near Fillmore. Get the curry lime chicken -- it's spicy and delicious. Even better, delivery takes less than ten minutes. Amazing.

Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: Pinche Tacos, people. That pork-belly taco with pickled garlic cloves and braising juices is just dangerous.

If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? I just want Denver to continue to evolve into a talented food city. I've seen so many restaurants pop up over the past two years since I've been here, and this city is definitely growing. After having worked in many world-class cities, I can even feel it in the quality of people who cook for me. The culture is changing for the better, and it's fantastic to see. And I just want to do my part in making it even better.

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? I got a chef's knife from the owners of Jelly when we opened our Capitol Hill location. It's a nice knife -- an eight-inch Wüsthof with a beautiful wooden handle. But it wasn't the knife so much as it was the sentiment behind the knife. You're welcome, Josh and Christina. And thank you, too.

Location Info


1700 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Coming very late to this one, I know, but... to think, David, you could just be a dentist instead.

ScubaSteve topcommenter

What's in the pipeline? We just opened our second Jelly Cafe near DU, and with the success of this new venture could come more interesting things -- cooking food for beer, not just with beer, sounds great, or something more relaxing, like a wine bar with appetizers, could be just the right thing. Or perhaps a 24-hour upscale diner is just what Denver needs. I don't know -- you tell me. What does Denver need? I'm sure I could make it happen.

That's all Denver needs;  another circus, another zoo.

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