Jesper Jonsson, chef of Randolph's: "Restaurants are so much more than eateries"
This is part two of my interview with Jesper Jonsson, executive chef of Randolph's at the Warwick Hotel; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
What specific requests would you ask of Denver diners?
Being that we've integrated seasonal Colorado cuisine at Randolph's, I would like to ask that Denver diners come back and give us a try. My sous chefs Pierson Shields and Thomas Job and I are really working on challenging flavors, yet sticking to the proven traditions of modern food.
Most underrated Denver restaurant:
I think Tables is an underdog, but the menus are always attractive and well thought through, and the ingredients and dishes are fresh and honest.
Who's the most underrated chef in Denver?
The culinary staff in every restaurant deserves a pat on the back. All of us chefs have been in the trenches working our way up to the title of "chef," and these passionate men and women all deserve a big thank you.
What recent innovation has most influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way?
The return to basics. While there's a plethora of new equipment and gadgets, human innovation far exceeds any piece of machinery available. What can be performed by a skilled and motivated cook blows my mind. Surf YouTube and you'll see what can be done with a paring knife; it's amazing!
What do you expect from a restaurant critic? Food critics have a huge responsibility on their shoulders. Their information has to be well founded and sincere to ensure credibility with readers, and the critic should base their reviews on personal observations not only about food and service, but also on other diners. And in order to maintain credibility, I think they have to be anonymous. I sure wouldn't like to be a food critic myself, even though I judge every bite of food I eat. I just wouldn't want the responsibility of judging any other hardworking chefs out there.
Best recipe tip for a home cook:
Keep it simple -- no more than six or seven ingredients will suffice. Have fun cooking, and share your enjoyment with others. The travel has to be as pleasant as the destination.
What advice would you give to an aspiring young chef?
Pack your bag and leave your ego behind. Knock on the door of the best restaurant you can find and give it 110 percent. You'll know soon enough if you've got it in you to become a great cook. Should you be in doubt, trust me: Someone will tell you. This profession is unique and not for everyone, but if it suits you, nothing compares. I truly believe this was the perfect choice for me, and I've really never wanted to pursue any other career.
What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring kitchen staff?
Character, a good attitude and a solid work ethic. And being a team player is a must. At Randolph's, it's like a big family, and given the amount of time that we spend together, we have to work as a team.