Round two with Garren Teich, exec chef of 1515 Restaurant
This is part two of my interview with Garren Teich, exec chef of 1515 Restaurant; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
Most memorable meal you've had: In Pines Point, Maine, there's a little lobster shack where you can buy a lobster roll for eight bucks and a crab roll for seven, and then walk out to the jetty where there's a bench that looks over the ocean. It's a great experience.
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Favorite cheap eat in Denver: Biker Jim's food cart on the 16th Street Mall. It's close to our restaurant, and the dogs are so good. The reindeer dog, with cream cheese and Coca-Cola onions, is by far the best. I like that his restaurant has even more options than the cart, and I'm working through trying them all. It's definitely unique fare, and somewhere I take all my out-of-town guests when they visit. I know there's something there for everyone and no one will be disappointed.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: I really like the style of food at the Squeaky Bean. They pair very unique ingredients and make them work well together. The presentations are beautiful, too.
If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? I'd like to see diners be more adventurous and open-minded about what they eat. We have some traditional menu items at 1515 that are prepared and presented in a more modern way. It isn't always what the customer expects, but that's the way we do it. We had a poached-pear dessert with frozen pine foam on hazelnut powder and blueberry-and-honey goat-cheese ice cream that was really good, and those who got it enjoyed it, but in the end, not enough people ordered it to warrant keeping it on the menu. I think people aren't always daring enough to try the unfamiliar.
What do you enjoy most about your craft? The fast-paced, ever-changing environment. No day is the same. I get to be creative and experiment with different ingredients and cooking techniques, and Gene Tang, the owner of 1515, supplies me with all these great tools that push me to be innovative.
What recent innovation has most influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way? There have been so many innovations in recent years that have changed how we prepare and cook food and that are allowing chefs to be more creative with their menus -- things like the anti-griddle and thermocirculators, and ingredients like maltodextrin and agar, for example. I know that some chefs are very old-school and against having all these modern tools and ingredients in their kitchen, but some of the top restaurants in the world are progressive-cuisine restaurants.