Round two with TJ Hobbs, chef of Ghost Plate & Tap
This is part two of my interview with TJ Hobbs, chef of Ghost Plate & Tap; part one of our interview ran yesterday.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: I'm a fan of Bittersweet. Chef Olaf has such inventive and inspired menus, and I like that you get to try something new every time you go in. I like the food, atmosphere and service at Charcoal, too, and you can never go wrong at Ya Ya's for bottomless mimosas and their brunch buffet with prime rib.
- TJ Hobbs, chef of Ghost Plate & Tap, on portion size, pastry and Pepsi
- Ghost Plate & Tap Cocktail Shakedown stirs the quest of the perfect beer cocktail
- Chef Christopher Cina lands in the kitchen of Ghost Plate & Tap
Favorite cheap eat in Denver: At Tott Talk of the Thai Asian Grill -- just west of Belmar in Lakewood -- they have some of the best buys in town on their lunch menu, plus it's right in my back yard. And across the street from Tott is my local watering hole, Pirate's Cove, which has two-for-one PBRs on tap for happy hour.
If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? I'd like to see diners making choices that aren't based on "being seen" at the hot spots. Venture out and try somewhere small and funky; go somewhere you haven't been or somewhere your friend hasn't been; find a hidden gem and be the one to talk about it rather than following the herd.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: This is going to sound a little funny, but it would be the meal I had at California Café in Park Meadows. The restaurant is no longer open, but I got my first kitchen job there when I moved to Colorado, and when my family came to visit, we made plans to have dinner there. The chef originally told me that he was going to make a tasting menu for us, but about an hour before dinner I got a text saying that he wasn't going to be able to do the menu because he was understaffed. When we got there, they had decanted a magnum of wine for us. Just when we were about to order, the first course came out...then the second...then the third...then the fourth. Ten different plates emerged from the kitchen without us ever ordering a thing. It was an incredible gesture by the chef to treat my family so generously, and it was totally unexpected. Thanks, Brandon!
Favorite childhood food memory: In eighth grade, I took a baking class, and at the end of the class, we split into teams of four and had a bake-off. My team made a sherbet angel torte and took home first place. That was where -- and when -- my culinary interest started.
Favorite junk food: Swedish Fish. I can't say no. And then I can't stop.
Last meal before you die: A wild-rice brat (or any one of their varieties) from Von Hanson Meats, with sauerkraut, whole-grain mustard, red potato salad and an ice-cold beer.
Best recipe tip for a home cook: I believe in the adage "Measure twice, cut once." Read the ingredients and procedure three or four times and make it right once.