Round two with Jose Guerrero, exec chef of ViewHouse
This is part two of my interview with Jose Guerrero, exec chef of ViewHouse Eatery, Bar & Rooftop; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: Oak at Fourteenth. The pickles, kale salad, flavored spritzers and my son and I sitting at the exhibition kitchen bar: That's a perfect night out for me.
Favorite cheap eat in Denver: I really like Amerigo for its quaintness. When I go, I usually have a salami sandwich and turkey noodle soup for the bargain price of just $7.50.
If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? Denver's dining scene is on the right track. There's a nice blend of concepts in all of our unique neighborhoods, but I'd still like customers to be more critical at the table by holding operators to their promise of a quality dining experience. It's so much easier to hear a sincere compliment then the same old "Everything was good."
Most memorable meal you've ever had: It wasn't an entire meal, but more the moment that really sticks with me. A friend created this roasted butternut-squash soup that had this delicate thyme aroma and was finished with toasted pumpkin seeds. The execution was so on-point and proved that when you cook from the soul, there are no obstacles.
Biggest moment of euphoria in the kitchen: My son, Diego, had just been born and I moved to Puerto Vallarta to take the role of corporate chef of a very well-known restaurant group, so my emotions were high. I stepped into the walk-in for pork belly and had a sudden rush of excitement due to the fact that even though I was so far from Diego, he would be able to experience different cultures because of my career. Understanding different cultures is the foundation of my cuisine.
Craziest night in the kitchen: St. Patrick's Day at the ViewHouse brought hordes of peeps. We had five line cooks, two prep cooks and two dishwashers on the schedule, and when the first ticket rolled in around 9 a.m., it came in as fast as it went out. Just to put the chaos into perspective, we had about 9,500 people through the door, and we didn't step off the line until about one in the morning. It was a madhouse, but I always want my craziest night to be tonight; otherwise, what's the point?
Biggest mistake a chef can make on the line: This actually reminds me of a joke. Why did the chicken cross the road? "Because you didn't fucking cook it!" Use a thermometer if you're not sure. They cost, like, $1.39.
What are your biggest pet peeves? Dirty plates, hot food on cold plates, cold food on hot plates, wet plates, scratched plates, broken plates, soups without undercarriage plates and a kitchen that's not selling plates.