TJ Hobbs, chef of Ghost Plate & Tap, on portion size, pastry and Pepsi

Lori Midson

TJ Hobbs
Ghost Plate & Tap
800 18th Street

This is part one of my interview with TJ Hobbs, chef of Ghost Plate & Tap; part two of our interview will run tomorrow.

TJ Hobbs remembers rushing through dinner to watch The Simpsons. It's not that his parents couldn't cook -- though his dad did a mighty fine job of charring burgers to the point of being inedible, he says -- but food just wasn't the center of his universe. "We had tons of food on holidays, and on Sunday, we'd do a family brunch or dinner, but we weren't obsessed by it," recalls Hobbs, today the chef at Ghost Plate & Tap.

See also:
- Round two with TJ Hobbs, chef of Ghost Plate & Tap
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When he was growing up in a small country town in Minnesota, though, his grandmother had a garden, and Hobbs recounts lugging home more than he could carry. "We'd come back with twenty pounds of tomatoes and cucumbers, and while it didn't really resonate at the time, I have my own vegetable garden now, and I still call my grandmother whenever I have gardening questions," he says. Unfortunately, he failed to call her last summer when he planted eight tomatillo plants, which "took over absolutely everything." Remember that, he advises, if you ever plant a tomatillo plant.

And burgers, he insists, should not be black, the way his father made them. Still, it was those burgers that piqued Hobbs's interest in learning how to cook. "I wanted my burger medium -- not charred -- so I complained one day, and my dad said that if I didn't like his burgers, I should start grilling them myself, so I did. And that's kind of what propelled the fascination with cooking," he says.

He started putting in hours at a local organic farm, then got his first real job at an upscale meat market, where he washed dishes and exchanged pleasantries with customers at the counter. He'd spent three years there, moving up to assistant manager and meat cutter, by the time he trotted off to Colorado for a vacation. He liked what he found here so much that he decided to leave Minnesota behind for 300-some days of sunshine. "I remember snowboarding in my sweatshirt and wearing shorts to the zoo the next day, and I knew that I'd love the climate in Colorado," he says. Plus, "I started discovering how big the restaurant scene was getting in Denver."

Location Info

Ghost Plate & Tap - CLOSED

800 18th St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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I'm sorry, this pisses me off to no end. I'm sorry the term "farm to table" has lost its MARKETING power for you. that it doesn't SELL food the way it did last year. You sir are THE problem in my industry. This should have never been a marketing term...It's too important. We aren't espousing the merits of Farm to Table just to jump on a popular bandwagon! Or to sell more covers in a night. The TERM is important because it associates the two in the general public's mind. And that STILL hasn't set (go to any chain and see) The term exists as a vehicle to associate two interconnected things that have sadly been forgotten. I live very close to Delta county where much of the good food is grown here in Colorado and i can see it plain as day.... since the coining of that term not only have the jaded self important shlock chefs become MORE than rock stars today but our Farmers have become rock stars too (and that's the way it should be) ...and that matters more than your marketing budget my friend... It's not a sales tool...its a freaking MOVEMENT. I have always taken that very seriously, it's a shame so many of our "rock star" chefs have forgotten that in the span of a year. Maybe they should have never trumpeted that principle even with Sysco and Shamrock Foods trucks parked at their back door, maybe the "term" wouldn't have lost it's importance...maybe the people who hear/read it wouldn't think its a joke or a ploy...maybe those same rock star chefs, maybe they'd save a little face now while loosing their precious "movements" in the flashy reflection from their own swollen egos. 


@cheese.cole Reading comprehension, you should try it sometime.  read this again: "Food trend you'd like to see disappear in 2013: The whole "farm to table" moniker -- not the use of local farmed products, but just the saying. We should all be trying to buy and support local and seasonal products as much as possible, but that phrase is being totally overused."

He's saying almost exactly what you're saying, but more intelligently and with less vitriol.  He's saying that it shouldn't be a marketing tool, it should just be the way things are done because it's the right thing to do.  How again is he "THE problem" in the industry?


@cheese.cole Wow, did you miss the mark on his comment. If you actually read what TJ said, he supports the concept whole-heartedly, but it should be the norm already, not used as a marketing gimmick. Sadly, many places are still espousing their "farm to table" to draw customers in. Why? That should be the standard! The movement has come, and those that aren't following it -- well, those are the restaurants that should be called out.

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