Cory Treadway, exec chef of Wynkoop Brewery, on smartphones, fried squirrel and heaven
This is part one of my interview with Cory Treadway, exec chef of the Wynkoop; part two of our conversation will run in this space tomorrow.
"I was the first white kid -- the first gringo -- to ever roll egg rolls," declares Cory Treadway, recalling his first gig in a restaurant, a Thai joint in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he was born and raised. "The woman who owned the place liked the way I mopped the floors: I didn't use too much water, and I guess she appreciated that."
Treadwell doesn't mop floors any longer (at least, not routinely), or roll egg rolls. Instead, he oversees the mammoth kitchen at Wynkoop Brewing Company, where he's been the executive chef since last August. And the path leading up to his position there took him through some of the best restaurants in Denver.
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But first there was the Outback Steakhouse, where he started out scrubbing plates before he got a big promotion: lurking over the Bloomin' Onion station. "I worked there throughout college, and up until I left, I was the record-breaker for selling the most Bloomin' Onions in one night -- a whopping 250 of them," recalls Treadway, who admits that while the badge of honor made him famous for an evening, he's never had the appetizer since.
After busting out Bloomin' Onions for a few years, he went to culinary school in Louisville, Kentucky, where he also did time as a sous chef at a local restaurant, until he and his then-girlfriend moved to Denver. And that's when he began cooking in big-name kitchens, like the long-gone Mel's Bar and Grill, which in its heyday was Denver's restaurant of the moment. He cooked alongside Frank Bonanno and Tyler Wiard for two years, then took off for Costa Rica for some "reflective" time after he and his girlfriend split up.
In the meantime, Wiard, today the exec chef at Elway's Cherry Creek, departed Mel's to spearhead the kitchen at the now-shuttered Fourth Story, and when Treadway returned to Denver, he joined him as the lead line cook and butcher. A year later, when Bonanno opened Luca D'Italia, Treadway slung his knives over his shoulder and stepped into that kitchen, and then, three months later, hustled over to Goose Sorensen's Solera. Money motivated the change: "I only left Luca because the money was significantly better at Solera, to the tune of $200 more per week," he says.
After three years at Solera, he again fell in step with Bonanno, cooking at Harry's Bar & Grill, a restaurant in Uptown that never really made much of a splash. And when the relationship between Bonanno and his partner went south, Bonanno gave him a heads-up. "He told me to get the hell out of there," recalls Treadway, who landed at Elway's Cherry Creek in 2006, sharing kitchen space, again, with Wiard. "I've learned so much from Frank, Tyler and Goose -- everything from food-and-wine pairings to respect to menu writing and execution -- and I'm really lucky to have worked for all three of these guys."