Acorn and Oak at Fourteenth chef Steve Redzikowski: "Food TV is the biggest downfall of our industry"

acorncrew.jpg
Lori Midson
Steve Redzikowski (center) and his kitchen crew at Acorn.

Steve Redzikowski
Acorn
3350 Brighton Boulevard
720-542-3721
denveracorn.com

Oak at Fourteenth
1400 Pearl Street, Boulder
303-444-3622
oakatfourteenth.com

This is part two of my interview with Steve Redzikowski, exec chef of Acorn and Oak at Fourteenth; the first part of my one-on-one with Redzikowski ran yesterday.

Most underrated chef in Denver/Boulder:
My sous chef at Oak, Bill Espiricueta. This cat reminds me of some of my old cooks in New York City, and you'll be hearing about him sooner rather than later. I can completely lose it with him -- I'm crazy -- and seconds later, he's right back in my ear talking about how he wants to make tweaks to this and that. He doesn't take what I say personally, and he always wants to give 100 percent.

See also: Steve Redzikowski, chef of Acorn and Oak at Fourteenth: "Tweezers are just so finicky"

Most underrated restaurant:
All of them. This isn't as easy as it looks, and if you have the nuts to open the door, you've got courage.

What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring kitchen staff?
I don't give much weight to résumés, but I do want a great attitude and a strong, strong, strong, strong work ethic.

What advice would you give to an aspiring young chef?
Put yourself in the toughest kitchens you can find, and work for free, because it'll make you humble and allow you to just focus on food and motivating those around you. And for God's sake, lead by example. Don't be afraid to jump in the dish pit and get a little dirty. If, on the other hand, you're after money, then work at a country club where food isn't the primary focus.

What's the biggest challenge of being a chef?
Bringing in great product and having to pay the FedEx guy. Guests don't understand how much money we pay to have all those nice ingredients shipped to us, and because of the high costs, we need to charge a dollar more here and there.

What cookbooks and/or food-related reading material do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from cookbooks like Culinary Artistry, Jean-Georges's original cookbook and Setting the Table, by Danny Meyers.

What recent innovation has most influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way?
Something old that's new again: the return of wood-fired cooking. Bon Appétit magazine just released its list of the Ten Best New Restaurants of 2013, and about half of them had wood-fired elements. Go figure.


Location Info

Acorn

3350 Brighton Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Oak at Fourteenth

1400 Pearl St., Boulder, CO

Category: Restaurant

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16 comments
Philo99
Philo99

Like the food network or hate it, a restaurant owner would have to be a clueless fool not to acknowledge it's positive affect on fine dining. 

The people showing up at Acorn and paying $19 for an ounce of ham, would never had heard of Iberico if it weren't for the Food Network. The folks paying $90 for a bone in pork shoulder are there because they saw it done by a talented cook on Top Chef.

The reason there are numerous young chefs out there willing to work for free while they perfect their craft, is because they were exposed to the Food Network as teenagers. Nobody in their right mind goes into a field where you pay for culinary school only to come out earning minimum wage, working 60 hours a week. Only people who spent their teenage years doing bong hits and watching Molto Mario are dumb enough to enter that field.


Ignorance is bliss but it's still ignorance.

Chris Cater
Chris Cater

yes. absolutely, Rachel Ray doesn't tip, for starters.....

Chris Winkler
Chris Winkler

The less recognition the food network gets, the better.

Mel Ćurković
Mel Ćurković

I feel that Food TV shows inspire people to learn how to cook at home, which is something Stevie here doesn't want you to do. I'll still try his places though.

Mitch Siff
Mitch Siff

"Chopped" is the most lame show because it features ingredients that no one would ever use.

Mykola Ostrovskyy
Mykola Ostrovskyy

Sounds like more of an advertisement than an interview. The line about food network sounds more like jealousy than anything

Ellen Kessler
Ellen Kessler

Yes. I've learned more about cooking on Facebook and the internet in general than on that crappy network. But I still watch it because I'm a glutton for punishment.

Jon Honegger
Jon Honegger

no. Westword is with the bs coverage of the GABF.

theonegordo
theonegordo

God Bless you.  I hope to meet you.  I will be in; great interview.

davolt13
davolt13

Wonderful profile. Good to see a humble, grounded "cook" credit his staff and his colleagues. Ate at OAK for the first time last week. Steve and his staff have made simple delicious. 

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