Sugarmill's Noah French: "When you're dining in a restaurant that's busy, please be patient"
This is part two of my interview with Noah French, pastry chef and co-owner of Sugarmill; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.
Most underrated Denver restaurant:
TAG|RAW BAR. It gets tons of awards and accolades, but somehow people still look at me blankly when I talk about it. I love the cool, urban underground location, and chef Shaun Motoda's lunch rice bowls with sashimi are the absolute best.
Who's the most underrated chef in Denver?
Kelly McGeehan, my assistant pastry chef, is an incredible talent and makes the most insane, inventive custom cakes. She designed and made an incredible birthday cake -- a three-tiered red-velvet cake with cream-cheese icing and red and black fondant -- for basketball star LeBron James just a few weeks ago.
What specific requests would you ask of Denver diners?
When you're dining in a restaurant that's busy, please be patient. The kitchen knows you're there, but unfortunately, the whole dining room can't all get their food at the same time. A restaurant at 7:30 is packed, and yet people still expect boom, boom, boom. We don't want to compromise quality in order to get the food to your table super-fast.
What are your expectations of a restaurant critic?
I appreciate fairness and understanding. I know most critics dine at a restaurant two or three times before reviewing it, which I think is important. I also believe anonymity is critical, because anonymity parallels the true experience that an average diner will have at the restaurant. Critics should be treated the same way that any other guest is treated in order to ascertain what the overall experience is really like.
Would you ever send a dish back if you were dining in a friend's restaurant?
No, I wouldn't send it back. I'd let him or her know on the side, privately, as a common
courtesy if there was something terribly wrong.
Weirdest thing you've ever put in your mouth:
Rattlesnake. It was a little weird, but it actually tasted really good.
What's always lurking in your refrigerator?
A bottle of 2003 Dom Pérignon. I'm waiting for just the right time and just the right girl before I pop the cork.
What should every home cook have in the pantry?
Chocolate. There are so many things to make from that one ingredient. In addition to the obvious uses in desserts, chocolate also enhances chili, is critical for making mole, and it's great just all by itself as a midnight snack.
Best recipe tip for a home cook:
Use the best ingredients you can find. For example, if you're using vanilla extract, splurge to get a good, high-quality brand. It really does make a difference.