Round two with TAG Burger Bar chef Drew Archer: "If salt is flavor, then acid is life"

Drewarcher2.jpg
Lori Midson

Drew Archer
TAG Burger Bar
1222 Madison Street
303-736-2260
www.madisonstreetdenver.com

Part one of my interview with Drew Archer, chef of TAG Burger Bar, ran yesterday; this is part two of our chat.

Most memorable meal you've ever had: We never really ate out much growing up, so I don't have many particularly memorable meals from my childhood, but I've had amazing fresh pasta in Italy, fish in Greece and green chile in Santa Fe, although perhaps the most memorable meal I've ever had was in Maine, when I was about twelve. When I was young, all I watched was the Food Network, and one night my mother and I were watching a show on Maine lobsters. Living in Oklahoma, I'd never had lobster and thought it looked like the most amazing thing to eat. Later that year, we actually took a family trip to New England, and while we were there, we drove up to Maine, got a table at a waterfront restaurant, and I ordered my first lobster. It was just as amazing as I had envisioned, except for the fact that the Food Network had edited out all the carnage and guts that come out of whole lobster when you rip the tail off. Needless to say, I wasn't prepared for the real lobster experience, which is what made it so memorable.

See also:
- Drew Archer, chef of TAG Burger Bar, on pointing fingers, Ruffles and bacon
- They may not be French, but TAG Burger Bar's duck-fat fries are definitely decadent
- Noah French, pastry chef at TAG, talks about his new bakery venture with Troy Guard

Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: At Euclid Hall, I love the pig-ear pad Thai. That's the kind of food that proves that someone really wanted to make it, that it's not on the menu because it's expected. Another spot that's amazing is Glaze, a bakery right across from TAG Burger Bar on Madison Street that makes traditional Japanese rotisserie cakes. It's not even worth me trying to explain the process, because I can watch them cook for an hour and still have no idea how it works.

Favorite cheap eat in Denver: I love the happy hour at Machete, in Cherry Creek. They have $2 tacos, and their crispy tripe taco is by far the best taco I've had in Denver.

If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? In honor of Denver Restaurant Week, I would change Denver Restaurant Week. The amount of time and work that goes into a two-week period is insane. I'd love to see it split over two independent weeks -- one in February and one in August.

What do you enjoy most about your craft? The artistic freedom and expression. I was always an art student in high school, and I loved 3-D art -- sculptures, working with clay, architecture -- and if I could go back in time, my AP portfolio would have been food photography. To me, cooking is all about the senses. I want to make you notice not only flavor, but color, texture, height and patterns -- they're all the parts of a meal that people love without realizing they love it.

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? I love getting cookbooks as gifts, and the one that I really looked to when I first started at TAG was The Blue Elephant, an Indonesian cookbook. It was a gift from my wife that she brought back from Indonesia. I owned it for about a year and didn't know what half the ingredients were, but when I started at TAG, I started working with some new ingredients and realized that they were things that I'd read about in that cookbook. I soon realized I could use the book as a tool and as a way to learn about new uses for the ingredients we had in the kitchen that I'd never been exposed to.


Location Info

TAG Burger Bar

1222 Madison St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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2 comments
IsBoulderBetter
IsBoulderBetter

"I don't own an immersion circulator, which happens to be needed for every single recipe in the book... Now I just need to find an excuse to sous-vide burgers as a way of getting my hands on the equipment."

How poor / bad with money are chefs?? In most professions, someone who truly cared about their craft wouldn't blink at spending money to improve their abilities (and achieve their self-professed "goal"). A quality immersion circulator can be had on eBay for <$1k. If nothing else, a chef could buy one, learn its ins and outs for a few months and then resell it for a net cost of $100.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@IsBoulderBetter He's 24. Do you really expect a guy to spend a grand on kitchen equipment at that age? When I was 24, I could barely afford paper plates. I managed a pizza restaurant and it was a huge boon to be able to take home a few of the old but well-seasoned deep-dish pans that the owner was planning on throwing out. What might be a good use of his time without costing any money would be to stage in a kitchen that uses immersion circulators. If he has time, that is. Restaurant employees work long hours for very little money and most of them lack the time and financial resources to experiment in their home kitchens on their own dime.

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