Colin Mallet, chef of Sassafras, on the Denver chef we don't hear enough about
This is part two of my interview with Colin Mallet, chef of Sassafras; part one of our chat ran yesterday..
Describe the biggest challenges facing Denver chefs: The amount of competition is enormous. There are so many new restaurants opening each year, and the challenge to set yourself apart from everyone else is a difficult task.
What do you enjoy most about your craft? Providing happiness through food makes me feel good.
Most underrated Denver restaurant: Sunny Gardens, which a friend turned me on to. It's hands-down the best traditional Chinese food in Denver and my go-to place for delicious takeout when I'm just too tired to cook. I usually get the pork fried rice; I can't live without it.
Who's the most underrated chef in Denver? A chef's name we don't hear enough: Pete List, the executive chef of Beatrice & Woodsley. He has a vast knowledge of so many cuisines and the cojones to put ingredients together that you wouldn't typically see on the same plate. He's a contemporary chef but truly cooks from his heart and for the love of food.
What recent innovation has most influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way? The use of thermal immersion circulators, which protect the integrity of an ingredient by cooking it slowly -- eggs or a duck breast, for example.
Favorite culinary-related gift you've been given: My Misono UX10 Gyoto knife. The owners of Sassafras gave it to me, and it's the best chef's knife that you can get. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love it.
Favorite culinary-related item to give as a gift: Wine. Good wine is just as important to me as good food. I like to give people something slightly obscure; I'm partial to Rhônes.
What's your fantasy splurge? Food-wise, Wagyu beef tartare with seared foie gras, a sunny-side-up duck egg, crispy duck skin and shaved Aiba white truffles. And for the kitchen, I'd love to have a thermal immersion circulator, an anti-griddle and a blast chiller -- in that order.