Patxi Azpiroz, chef of Patxi's Pizza, on eating fried worms and pesto pizza proposals
And he continued to do that until clear winners emerged. "That's how we came up with our recipes -- by doing things over and over again until everyone agreed on what their favorite sauce, dough and pizzas were," he says. In the meantime, he and Freeman were scouting spaces in the Bay Area, and by the time they opened their most recent location in California, they had seven Patxi's under their belt; two more California outposts are in the pipeline. "We've been successful because I really do think we have the best pizza on the West Coast," professes Azpiroz. "The passion we have for people and our product is unparalleled, and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen teaching everyone how to make pizza, and people in Denver tell me that they're amazed -- that they don't just want our pizza, but they need our pizza. I like spreading the love."
In the following interview, Azpiroz shares the story of a man who proposed over pesto pizza, blames a children's book for enticing him to eat worms, and insists that Jacques Pépin's apple-slicing skills are worth a YouTube view.
How do you describe your food? In truth, our food is very simple. We source the best and freshest ingredients we can find and make our food with pride and love. That's the foundation on which our entire menu is built. Despite the fact that I eat pizza almost every single day, I still look forward to coming in and making -- and eating -- pizza over and over again.
Ten words to describe you: Curious, picky, stubborn, tenacious, compassionate, trusting, eager, friendly, kind and enthusiastic.
What are your ingredient obsessions? I have three, and not necessarily in this order: cheese, pork and bread. All three of these ingredients have almost infinite flavors, textures and forms, and in that sense, they're a lot like pizza, which is why so many of our pizzas incorporate them. What could possibly be bad about a pizza that has high-quality cheese, nitrate-free, naturally raised pork and a great dough?
What are your kitchen-gadget obsessions? I'm a huge fan of cast-iron and heavy steel cookware, mostly because I love that they hold heat and cook consistently. I guess they're not really gadgetry, though, but my microplane is, and I'm enamored with it. There's something delicious and cool about super-finely grated cheese that just melts into -- and onto -- whatever you're making.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: I'm still new to Denver, but I love the beer culture here. It's been really fun exploring all of the local brews and finding which ones pair well with our pizza. At the moment, I'm really into Odell's IPA. When we first got here to open in Cherry Hills, it was prime Hatch chile season. The ones we're getting through our produce supplier have been amazing, and a definite Denver delicacy.
Food trend you'd like to see in 2013: I'd love it if someone could actually execute a true Basque-style tapas bar, since that's my heritage. San Sebastian is a long way to travel for fantastic tapas, great wine and a warm social environment, and it'd be great to see something like that come to fruition in Denver.