Martin Campos, chef of Comida: "Work your ass off, keep your head down, and keep your cool"
This is part two of my interview with Martin Campos, exec chef of Comida at the Source; part one of our interview ran yesterday.
Your three favorite Denver restaurants other than your own:
Bourbon Grill, because, well, it's bourbon chicken. It's simple and always good, and the fact that you always have to wait for it just makes it that much better. Plus, you get so much food for so little money. I also love Pho 95, which is good at 9:30 in the morning or 11 at night. The pho is just amazing, the dining room is quiet, and you can sit in the corner and have an all-around pleasant experience. And for a nice, family-run restaurant, I like Banzai Sushi. The place is clean, everyone is always working, and the fish is fresh, clean-tasting and always consistent.
Most underrated restaurant in Denver:
Z Cuisine. The menu changes constantly, and it's just a nice forty-seat place with food that's done right, plus there's a good vibe to the whole restaurant. And yet I've never heard a word spoken about the place.
Who is Denver's next rising-star chef?
Steve Redzikowski, the chef of Acorn. His food is incredible, and so is his integrity. He keeps it honest, and he doesn't try to steal the attention; he knows that his staff makes a great restaurant. His food is just phenomenal, and he's just a real genuine guy; there's no arrogance about him. That's not true with a lot of chefs.
Which living chef do you most admire?
Chef Bill Greenwood of Beano's Cabin. He's taught me almost everything that I know. He's brutally honest, but only because he cares so much, and he believes in people and gives them a fair shot regardless of their experience.
Most memorable meal you've ever had:
The one I shared with my parents and sister in Eugene, Oregon, when I was ten. It was my first taste of oysters, crab, lobster and, really, seafood in general. Ever since then, I've been hooked on seafood.
If you could have dinner, all expenses paid, at any restaurant in the world, where would you go?
ElBulli, even though it's closed. That restaurant created an entirely new cuisine with its constant thought processes and practice. Working for six months to perfect a dish and the integrity and hard work that went into every dish is just so impressive.
If you had the opportunity to open your own restaurant with no budget constraints, what kind of restaurant would you open?
I'd probably open a forty-seat restaurant in a place where you can source most of your own products. Having a quiet, peaceful lake where you could fish for what you need would be ideal.
What's your fantasy splurge?
It'd be pretty cool to travel around the world, work in different restaurants and try all kinds of food.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given?
Getting my own kitchen to run is the best gift, in a sense, and having the freedom to organize and set the flow of the back of the house is also one of the best gifts. Knives are always great gifts, too.