Round two with Taylor Drew, exec chef of Russell's Smokehouse
This is part two of my interview with Taylor Drew, exec chef of Russell's Smokehouse; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: I don't get out to eat nearly enough, but I recently ate at Beast + Bottle and thought it was really good. Everything we ate was well executed, and I really liked how the menu was laid out. The service was very attentive, and the space is inviting, too.
- Foodography from Russell's Smoke House
- Best Chef: A nostalgic look back at our Best of Denver chef winners
- Frank Bonanno heatsup Larimer Square with the addition of Russell's Smokehouse
Favorite cheap eat in Denver: A burrito from Illegal Pete's is always fast, delicious and relatively inexpensive.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: When I was nineteen, I was in the U.S. Navy, and while on deployment on the U.S.S. Enterprise, we stopped for two days in Naples, Italy. The first day I got off the ship, a friend and I started walking, and after a couple of hours (and a couple of beers), we met a guy out in front of what appeared to be a restaurant. There were no signs or big windows with advertisements, but as we entered, we were led through a neat and well-put-together dining room with white linens and ornately folded napkins. Upstairs there were more tables, and we were given a seat at a large table facing the kitchen. The kitchen had maybe three men crammed into it, with every burner and inch of prep space being taken up by something. It was late afternoon and probably far too early for dinner service, but the man who had invited us in spoke with the cooks and popped open a bottle of wine, and soon food came rolling out of the kitchen: freshly baked bread, handmade pastas in different sauces, and amazing meats and cheeses that were all made by the chefs at the restaurant. That afternoon, I ate and drank food that until that point I had had no idea even existed. As my friend and I made our way out the front door, we thanked our host and the chefs, found a taxi and went back to the ship. After that meal, I knew I wanted to eat like that all the time -- but first I needed to know how to cook.
If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? I really like the direction that the food scene in Denver is going, and I think we've embraced a food culture, and that's a great atmosphere for a chef. There's also a shared culture among industry professionals that we want everyone to thrive and succeed, which will only help to make the dining scene in Denver better.
What do you enjoy most about your craft? I love to cook, but really, the reward for me is getting to share it with my friends, family and guests who come to the restaurant, or to my home. That may sound a bit cheesy, but it's true: That's why I cook.
What recent innovation has most influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way? I think that technology in general has really changed the way restaurants operate. From social-media sites like Twitter to the dreaded Yelp, we're more connected to our audience then we've ever been before. For better or worse, we have real-time information about -- and from -- our guests. Utilizing this information properly can make or break some restaurants.