Jeremy Thomas, chef of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, on simplicity, spoons and Sheehan
Thomas wound up back in Evergreen as a consulting chef at Willow Creek, where he stayed for just under two years. "I got to fly-fish every day and forage for mushrooms, and it was a great job, but when my wife, who works for Southern Wine & Spirits, told me that Le Grand was opening in downtown Denver, I knew I needed to get in there," says Thomas. "I knew I was the right guy." And he got the job.
"I love the feel of the room -- it reminds me of Balthazar in New York -- and beyond that, we have a great management team, and I love the wonderful bistro French food," he says. "Our goal is to make this the best French restaurant in the city." In the following interview, Thomas weighs in on simplicity, spoons, and former Westword restaurant critic Jason Sheehan.
How do you describe your food? Clean, fresh, simple and French-influenced, with lots of plays on the classics.
Ten words to describe you: Fun, funny, hardworking, determined, loving, hospitable, genuine, classy, cool and witty.
What are your ingredient obsessions? I love shallots because they're such an incredibly versatile ingredient; I'm obsessed with fish and shellfish because I love to catch them, which is not the point -- the point is that they're healthy and tasty; I like cooking with duck because it's super-French and it's been a favorite protein of mine ever since the first time I tasted it; and I'm a fan of citrus because acid helps to balance dishes.
What are your kitchen-gadget obsessions? Spoons of all types, but especially wooden ones. I like to use them for saucing dishes, basting proteins and for tasting food, of course. I use a fish spat for flipping fish, because if you try to do it with tongs, you wreck the product. In fact, Gordon Ramsay says every time you use tongs to turn fish, God kills a puppy.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: That's a tough call, but like a lot of other local chefs, I'm partial to the striped bass from Alamosa. It's really good fish, especially coming from Colorado, and we're serving it on our Valentine's Day menu. I also love Olathe corn because the growing conditions of hot days and cool nights are ideal for growing good corn, and I like Palisade peaches -- they're super-sweet when they're in season.