Frank Bonanno compares himself to brandy: "I still have a bite, but I'm mellowing as I age"

Frank Bonanno: "I never yell."

The signature signs of a city that's on the culinary fast track reside in its willingness to take aggressive risks, push infinite boundaries and continually adapt to a fickle dining public whose expectations are always on the upswing. Denver is that city -- a major metropolis that refuses to slow down, unleashing triumphant restaurants, watering holes and breweries commanded by innovative masterminds, the likes of which have resulted in a James Beard Award-winning chef, nationally crowned cocktail champions and Einsteins of beer.

See also: Welcome to Westword's 19th annual DISH

As a prelude to the September 22 DISH, Westword's annual celebration of the Denver dining scene, we picked the brains of nearly fifty Denver chefs, all of whom weighed in on Denver's current culinary landscape and the trends that have made their mark this past year. But that's not all we wanted to know: We also wondered which ingredient best personified their personalities and what ritual was an integral part of their daily routine.

Herewith the last batch of dish from Frank Bonanno, Virgilio Urbano, Drew Hardin, Mitch Mayers, Joe Troupe, Pepe Aparicio, Carrie Shores and Crickett Burns. And don't miss part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, part eight and part nine of our DISH chef series.

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It was interesting in visiting the Denver Club, The Petroleum Club and The Brown Palace, that Rocky Mountain Trout was predominately listed. The product popularity has disappeared and perhaps from the idea that the streams and water ways are now more artificially stocked.

If you look at old food purveyor guides, from the earlier 20th Century, you will find reference to Rocky Ford Cantaloupe, Loveland Cherries and Celery from Arvada. Arvada was considered the celery capital of the US for the blanched celery that they produced. When I came here that product was still produced by small growers—it is no more. Loveland Cherries disappeared as from a virus and competition. Rocky Ford cantaloupe may be locally champion but I do not think it has obtained national significance as other products such as Georgia Peaches. Of course, cantaloupes popularity may be on its death bed .

It takes time for food products to gain a uniqueness and Colorado is a fairly new state. It takes marketing and taking the product out from the generic commodity market to a unique value added product over time. So, that Beef is commodity but Angus Beef is value added. Buffalo was not readily and easily available when I arrived but over time, there has been growth in producers but I do not think it has reached the celebrated state of a value added Colorado unique product.

Micro-brews. I pretty much grew up here and the only thing I can think of as "Colorado-style" is when you walk into a chain Mexican restaurant and they have "Spanish rice" on the menu. I've never known what Spanish rice is and I love Mexican food. And everything is "smothered" unless you beg the waitress to "hold the smothering please".

I've never eaten Elk or Bison. Or Rocky Mountain Oysters.

I'm saying "Colorado-style" is the lack of absolutely killer Italian like you'd get in NYC, or New Mexican-style food like you get in NM, or other regional specialties (hot dogs in New Jersey, Philly Cheese Steaks in...what's that city's name...) but boy do we have every chain restaurant in the world!

That said, I think there's great food to be had here. Some of the best beer in the world, as well. But if you're looking for "local regional fare" forget it here.

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