Aniedra Nichols, exec chef of Elway's Cherry Creek: "Never show fear"
This is part two of my interview with Aniedra Nichols, exec chef of Elway's Cherry Creek; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given?
I've had quite a few, but my most recent toy was a Vitamix Professional Series blender. That thing is awesome. Thanks, Mom!
Favorite culinary-related item to give as a gift:
Everyone needs a good utility knife, so I've given many knives as gifts. I'm also in love with The Flavor Bible and think that everyone should have a copy of that book in their library.
What's your fantasy splurge?
Going to the Orient and eating Asian cuisine for a month so I could experience all the different flavors and cooking techniques they have to offer. I'd finish my tour in Japan by taking the bullet train to the countryside and visiting a bed-and-breakfast, where I'd take in the tranquil scenery while eating ramen.
If you could dress any way you want, what would you wear in the kitchen?
Jeans, a ribbed tank top and Vans.
If you could have dinner, all expenses paid, at any restaurant in the world, where would you go?
I want to go back to Florence and enjoy fresh pasta with braised beef cheeks, a margherita pizza with prosciutto di Parma and arugula, great wine, tiramisu and a double espresso. And I'd want all of this while people-watching.
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring chef?
Watch, listen, and learn from your mentors. We have a lot to offer in the way of advice, because most of us have been doing this for a long time and can speak from experience. It takes a lot of hard work and patience to grow in this industry. Check your egos at the door, take advantage of all the advice you've been given, and learn the tricks of our trades. Most important, have fun where you can, because that's why we do this, right, friends? And know that you'll never stop learning, especially in this industry.
If you could train under any chef in the world, who would it be?
Roy Choi...so long as I didn't give him a reason to yell at me. I'd like to learn more about how his mind works and better understand his vision. He's come a long way in his life and has a great career, and I want to hear his story from his mouth and learn all about how he comes up with his flavor combinations. Plus, he's just so cool.
What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring kitchen staff?
They need to actually prove that they have the skills and attributes that they claim to have. Some people may interview well, but when it comes time to grind, their work can sometimes tell a completely different story, which is why we offer a stage before we hire anyone.