Round two with Jonathan Power, exec chef of the Populist
This is part two of my interview with Jonathan Power, executive chef of the Populist. Part one of our chat ran yesterday.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: I don't make it up there often enough, but I love Pizzeria Basta in Boulder. The service has always been spot-on, and they bring some beautiful flavors out of that oven.
Favorite cheap eat in Denver: Hands down, the banh mi from Baker's Palace. It's cheap and delicious and just far enough from my house that I haven't burned myself out on them...yet.
If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? Fewer cynics and more champions of our city. I think the restaurant scene here is growing in tremendous ways. We have a passionate pool of cooks and chefs in this town doing some pretty incredible things, and I firmly believe that as we build a solid community of food lovers and restaurant supporters, we'll continue to become an outstanding food city.
What do you enjoy most about your craft? There's limitless variety in the kitchen. We may cook the same dishes countless times while they're on the menu, but each night, each table and each plate is an opportunity to do it better than before. I love that while I may know loosely what every day holds for me, this craft forces me to constantly be on my toes.
What recent innovation has most influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way? The Internet is this incredible double-edged sword. Having a globally accessible public forum is so good for increasing exposure to wonderful restaurants and inventive chefs, but at the same time, the fact that anyone can use it to say essentially whatever they would like can affect restaurants in ways that just didn't exist before.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? A very good friend and business partner gave me a copy of Modernist Cuisine. It was a great gift, because it's something I never would have bought for myself because of the price tag, but I find it immensely fascinating and useful. It's an excellent resource, and it's been a real education for me on the science of what we do in the kitchen.
Fantasy splurge: A Pacojet. There are workarounds for most of the other gadgets I'd like to have, but the Pacojet makes a product pretty damn difficult to replicate.
Favorite cooking show: I don't own a TV, so I don't have a lot of access to cooking shows, but on YouTube, I love pulling up the old Marco Cooks For... series that was on the BBC. Marco Pierre White is such a personality, and his food was so specific and intentional. It's a great way to spend half an hour, plus the outtakes are amazing.