Daniel Bradley, chef of 5280 Burger Bar: "If you're not willing to give up your life to the craft, don't do it"
This is part two of my interview with Daniel Bradley, exec chef of 5280 Burger Bar; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
Your three favorite Denver/Boulder restaurants other than your own:
I had dinner at Interstate the other night, and I have to say it was amazing, especially the calamari, which was the best calamari I've ever had. I'm also a sucker for the tea sandwiches and pork pâté at Williams & Graham, and I love Pho 555. I mean, who doesn't love pho at 2 a.m.?
Most memorable meal you've ever had:
Years ago, I went to a friend's Mexican restaurant in San Mateo, California, with my granddad. We had a few beers, some really spot-on food, and just talked about life. Three days later, he passed away. I'll always remember sharing that meal with him.
Most underrated restaurant in Denver:
Cafe Max. Although it seems like just a coffee shop, they have a great menu featuring both brunch and dinner -- and they also pour the best coffee in Denver.
Which living chef do you most admire?
Chef Jessica LaForge, my pastry chef at 5280 Burger Bar. She works so hard at making sure our buns are perfect every day, even though the demand is high, and it's tough to keep up with the production. Besides the burger buns, she also makes all the ice cream at 5280 Ice Cream. The flavors she comes up with are so amazing. As a young chef, there's a lot to deal with, and she handles it like a champ. I can't think of another pastry chef I'd rather have on my team. Her assistant is really talented, too, and all three of us have matching cat-themed best-friend necklaces. We're pretty much family.
Who is Denver's next rising-star chef?
Chef Justin Brunson at Old Major. He's doing some really awesome stuff over there, and I'm a big fan of all his charcuterie.
What do you expect from a restaurant critic?
Critics should be honest and put their personal feelings about the owner or chef aside. I've witnessed too many times a critic who dislikes a chef as a person and then seeks to destroy them. Leave the personal politics out of it and just get down to describing the food.
Best recipe tip for a home cook:
Use fresh herbs and have fun. You have to make love to the food. You'll be able to taste the difference.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given?
My girlfriend sends me this orange hot sauce from a taqueria back home. I put that shit on everything.
Favorite culinary-related item to give as a gift:
A paring knife. They're super-useful and also conveniently gift-sized.