Round two with Patxi Azpiroz, exec chef of Patxi's Pizza

Biggest moment of euphoria in the kitchen: With each new restaurant, I have that moment of euphoria. It's like opening night of the theater, and really, a bustling kitchen is live theater in a way. Before the opening night, I always have this inkling of uncertainty as to whether the pizza is going to cook correctly. This was actually a huge uncertainty -- more than normal -- in bringing our pizza to Denver because of the altitude. We came out for a week and rented a test kitchen to make sure the dough would hold up and our Denver guests would get the same Patxi's dough our guests were getting in San Francisco. At a new restaurant, it's not until that first pizza of the night comes out of the oven cooked perfectly and you have the chance to taste it [that you] can you feel the euphoria course through your entire body.

Greatest accomplishment as a chef: Having Michael Bauer, the executive food-and-wine editor and restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, validate the fact that we made great Chicago-style pizza.

What's one thing that people would be surprised to know about you? I think people would be surprised to learn that I'm not a classically trained chef, nor have I attended culinary school. I was actually an English literature major, and I love English poetry, especially Keats. In fact, I originally wanted to be a poet, but I wasn't great at writing down my thoughts. And while I'm still an avid reader, I've always loved cooking and food, and food is such a strong current in literature that I get the best of both worlds.

Last meal before you die: It would have to be something truly decadent. I'd start with a Green Goddess salad and Dungeness crab cakes, then I'd follow it up with an aged ribeye cooked to a perfect medium rare, served with pan-roasted crispy potatoes and creamed spinach. I'd wash it all down with a Pliny the Younger, a great IPA from the Russian River Brewing Company.

If you hadn't become a chef, what would you be doing right now? I think I'd probably be a carpenter, cabinetmaker or furniture maker of some sort. I like the idea of working with raw materials and creating something aesthetically pleasing and useful.

Location Info

Patxi's Pizza

3455 S. University Blvd., Englewood, CO

Category: Restaurant

Patxi's Pizza

185 Steele St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Mantonat topcommenter

"Being from California, I'm really digging the Mexican community and food here in Denver." I love it when people move here with an open mind! So often, people will move to a new city and complain that they can't find food like where they came from. Exploring and finding new variations is part of the fun - which is why it's also really cool to have a place like Patxi's doing something a little different.

Oh, and for tapas and pintxos, try Ondo's in Cherry Creek if you haven't already. The atmosphere is not very traditional, but the food is great. It may not quite capture the spirit of a Spanish or Basque bar, but it's the closest thing Denver has. They at least do the toothpick-counting thing with the pintxos.

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